MSc Aquatic Pathobiology

Study the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of aquatic animal diseases in cultured organisms.

Aquatic Pathobiology

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2023
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 27 months
  • Mode of study part time, full time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

Food from aquatic systems is essential for much of the world’s population. However, with wild catches of seafood declining in many places, aquaculture is playing an increasing role as an alternative source of high-quality, nutritious food - and as an employer. Controlling disease is important to the ongoing success of this industry.

Our Aquatic Pathobiology postgraduate degree gives you a unique opportunity to study the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of aquatic animal diseases in cultured organisms. You’ll study at the Institute of Aquaculture, one of the top institutions in this field. The Institute is internationally recognised for both research and teaching and has more than 70 staff and 80 postgraduate students. This Masters in Aquatic Pathobiology has been taught at the Institute for almost 40 years and is the only postgraduate degree of its kind in the world.

The course combines high-quality, practical work and field visits with class-based training in aquatic disease diagnosis and health management challenges drawn from real industry situations. You’ll also develop an understanding of the biology, husbandry and environment of farmed aquatic species.
The course can also be seen as preparation for anyone who plans to do a PhD in aquatic animal health or disease.

The Institute of Aquaculture has received the UK’s most prestigious academic honour – the Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019. The honour recognises outstanding work that shows quality and innovation, and delivers real benefit to the wider world through education and training. It recognises our pioneering work in the world’s fastest-growing food production sector and our bid to tackle global hunger.

 

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Top reasons to study with us

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Faculty facilities

The Institute of Aquaculture aims to provide the highest standard of facilities in an ever-changing commercial, academic and regulatory environment. We have freshwater sites in Central Scotland, tropical and temperate freshwater recirculation systems in Stirling and marine facilities in the West of Scotland.

The Institute provides analytical laboratories in all the key priority research areas, including:

  • genomic, molecular and bioinformatics
  • microbiology and immunology
  • imaging facilities
  • nutritional analytical services
  • water quality services

Research overview

In REF 2021, we were ranked 1st in the UK for impact and 9th overall for research in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Sciences, with 100% of the University's Institute of Aquaculture research having outstanding impact, the highest possible rating. 100% of our research environment is world leading or internationally excellent.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Other routes of entry

If you don’t currently meet the academic requirements for this course, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need for direct entry.

Explore INTO Stirling programmes to see the pathway and pre-masters routes available for this course and others at the University of Stirling.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill 
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 59 in each sub-skill
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition Test 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall with a Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
  • LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator - High Pass overall with minimum 25 in each sub-skill

Last updated: 23 August 2022

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The full Masters course is divided into six taught modules, and a single research project module. The overall course is divided into three parts:

Foundation modules (September to November)

There are two compulsory modules, taken consecutively, which give a broad introduction to aquaculture science and practice. The first focuses on aquaculture species, systems and environments and their interaction in relation to fish health and welfare. The second module considers aquaculture as a commercial activity, its governance and insights into aquaculture in practice. This is important for understanding the context within which fish health management decisions must be taken.

Advanced modules (November to April)

There are four advanced modules which cover essential diagnostic skills for viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, treatments and toxicology, epidemiology and overall health control strategies. Any three of these modules may be taken as a Postgraduate Certificate in Aquaculture Health Management. Completion of all four advanced modules together with the two foundation modules can be recognised with the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Aquatic Pathobiology.

Research Project module (April to September)

The Research Project module involves independent research in many areas of aquatic animal health. These projects are mostly laboratory based and often result in peer-reviewed publications. Successful completion of the module, following the foundation and advanced modules, will qualify you for an MSc Aquatic Pathobiology.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2022). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

Research-led teaching is at the core of your learning as our staff conduct world-leading research in Aquatic Pathobiology. Our teaching makes use of both our campus-based teaching facilities and online learning environment. In addition to lectures, online materials, workshops, seminars, case studies, field and laboratory exercises, and a number of minor projects are assigned throughout the course. These are an integral part of the teaching and will involve the students working alone or in groups. These projects may require a written outcome or a presentation to peers and other staff and students. 

Fieldwork

There will be a number of field exercises throughout the course, which include visits to Scottish aquaculture production sites, as well as the external marine and freshwater facilities of the Institute of Aquaculture.

Assessment

Taught module assessment is continuous and consists of assignments in a range of formats, including short tests, poster and platform presentations, essays, practical and project reports, and field assignments. The Research Project module is examined through a reflective diary maintained throughout the research project module, a written dissertation, a press release and a seminar presentation, which is delivered to peers, supervisors and the external examiner.

Classroom hours

The Aquatic Pathobiology course involves intensive teaching and study. A standard day involves lectures, practicals, tutorials or group work between 9.00 and 6.00pm, with assignments taking additional time in evenings or weekends. There are sometimes field trips which may start earlier or return later or involve several nights away from Stirling.  

Key staff

Teaching on the Sustainable Aquaculture postgraduate course draws on the wide range of expertise available within the Institute of Aquaculture. Module and topic leaders include:  

  • Dr Armin Sturm (Foundations of Aquatic Production) 
  • Dr Amaya Albalat (Aquaculture in Practice)
  • Dr Johanna Baily (Aquaculture Diagnosis Skills 1 Histopathology and Viral Disease)
  • Professor Mags Crumlish (Aquaculture Diagnostic Skills 2)
  • Professor James Bron (Parasites and Treatments)
  • Professor Jimmy Turnbull (Aquaculture Health Control)]

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

  2022/23 2023/24
Students from the UK£9,850£10,350
Students from the Republic of Ireland£9,850£10,350
Overseas (non-EU) students£23,325£23,825
European Union students£23,325£23,825

Students from the UK

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Students from the Republic of Ireland

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

European Union students

EU Postgraduate Scholarship

Eligible EU students will automatically receive our EU Postgraduate Scholarship, which provides a 40% fee discount on full-time, on-campus postgraduate degrees at the University of Stirling.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Overseas students (non-EU)

We offer a range of funding options for overseas students.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £11,570 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,025 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

Funded places from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

There are 8 fully funded places on the Aquaculture MSc courses for the academic year 2022/23. These places are supported by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) with funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

Other sources of funding

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

European Union and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

This course has run for almost 40 years and we’ve trained over 200 students (in combination with Aquatic Veterinary Studies) from all over the world. As a graduate, your expertise will be relevant to a wide range of potential careers in aquatic animal health. Your selected career path will depend on your personal interests, as well as your previous experiences. Graduates have gone on to work as aquatic health consultants, with government fisheries departments and as managers of seafood farms and aquaria.

The course provides training for those who wish to pursue a PhD, especially in aquaculture, aquatic health, fisheries and aquatic resources management.

In combination with the Aquatic Veterinary Studies degree these are the destinations of our graduates over the last five years:

  • About 30 percent have gone on to a PhD or further research
  • Around 20 percent work in government fisheries departments
  • About 15 percent are university lecturers
  • The remainder are managers of farms or aquaria or have other similar types of employment

Our career services is 1st in Scotland, top 5 in the UK and top 15 in the world (UK International Student Barometer (ISB) Benchmark and Global ISB Benchmark 2018)

Employability skills

We have designed our postgraduate taught courses so that, in addition to learning about your specialist discipline, you’ll be exposed to, and trained in, a number of skills which are not specific to aquaculture but which employers increasingly expect. During your course you’ll develop capabilities in the following areas:

Academic

  • Researching information
  • Information retrieval
  • Evaluative and analytical skills
  • Problem solving
  • Experimental design and statistics
  • Computing modelling

Communication skills

  • Oral presentation skills
  • Scientific and business report writing
  • Presentation of reports and research findings
  • Writing for a range of readers
  • Dealing with people, interviews
  • Teamwork, group-work, leadership

Personal management skills

  • Time management
  • Organisation, planning and prioritisation
  • Working under pressure
  • Working to deadlines

Companies we work with

We work closely with the aquaculture industry in more than 20 countries, including every major company in Scotland, giving many of our students an opportunity to carry out industry-based research projects. During the course there are visits to various companies. Lectures and workshops in a number of modules are given by aquaculture professionals from Scotland.

What our students said

Lucia Drabikova
Lucia Drabikova
MSc Aquatic Pathobiology
MSc Aquatic Pathobiology covers rather inspiring underwater life topics which is my ever-lasting dream of working in the environment of animal health. It successfully links research and industries. The advantages of studying at Stirling is the wide applicability of the course in the industry. It also allows me to network with aquaculture experts and make contacts with industrial representatives.
Read Lucia's story
Eziama Ngozi
Eziama Ngozi
Nigeria
MSc Aquatic Pathobiology
I decided to apply for scholarships to pursue the study of aquaculture and discovered that MSc Aquatic Pathobiology at Stirling is one of the courses sponsored by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. I was attracted to the course as it is one of a kind worldwide, a course offered only at the University of Stirling, and the modules of the course perfectly aligned with my future career.
Read Eziama's story

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