Aquaculture: Sustainable Aquaculture

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc


The Institute of Aquaculture is one of a handful of institutions worldwide wholly devoted to aquaculture science and the only university department of its kind in the UK. The Institute is internationally recognised for both research and teaching, and has more than 70 staff and 80 postgraduate students.

Our goal is to develop and promote sustainable aquaculture, and in pursuit of this, carry out research across most areas of aquaculture science, including:

  • Breeding and Genetic Improvement
  • Nutrition
  • Health
  • Welfare & Behaviour
  • Aquaculture Systems


Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Full-time, Campus based
  • Start date:


    The course is available on a block-release basis (by selecting individual or a series of modules) over a period not exceeding five academic years.

  • Course Director: John Bostock
Download postgraduate prospectus

John Bostock

University of Stirling

Course objectives

Students will gain background knowledge in the principles of aquaculture and key factors influencing the viability of aquatic animal production systems, including an understanding of aquatic animal biology, environmental issues, nutrition, reproduction and genetics, disease and health management.

The course provides advanced knowledge in chosen areas - from advanced broodstock management, aquaculture policy and planning, livelihoods analysis, geographic information systems, environmental management and biodiversity, feed formulation and resources, economics, marketing and business studies, shrimp culture, aquaculture engineering, aquatic animal health control, epidemiology, and ecotoxicology.

Students will be able to appraise aquaculture operations and contribute to management decision-making. The student will have the skills necessary to establish, manage and appraise aquaculture enterprises and development projects from within the industry or public sector.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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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.

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: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements.

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

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

Application procedure

Applications should be made online using the "APPLY" button on this web page. You will need to submit a CV and personal statement, along with electronic copies of your academic certificates and transcripts. You are also asked for relevant academic or professional references. 

Fees and costs

2018/19 Overseas £18,970
2018/19 Home/EU £6,300

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

This course is currently approved for PTFL (Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan) funding from SAAS.

Other sources

Further possible sources of funding may be available via our Scholarship Finder.

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The MSc course at the Institute of Aquaculture is highly modularised and is designed to give considerable flexibility for learning, while maintaining a high standard of training. This structure allows students to make more subject choices which will benefit their future career and also have greater flexibility of learning over time. There is a number of degree outcomes available. These differ primarily in their defined path of required modules - specialised outcomes have more compulsory modules where the Sustainable Aquaculture degree has greater choice. The degree outcomes are:

  • Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Aquaculture
  • Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma in Aquaculture and the Environment
  • Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma in Aquaculture Business Management
  • Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma in Aquaculture and Development

The full Masters course for each degree outcome is divided into six taught modules, containing 12 subject areas, or topics, and a single research project module. The overall course is divided into three parts:

Foundation modules (September to December)
There are three compulsory modules consisting of six topics of study, taken consecutively, giving instruction in basic aquaculture concepts and skills. Successful completion of all foundation modules will qualify you for a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Aquaculture. Students select a particular named degree outcome at the end of the foundation modules. Topics of study within the advanced modules are then chosen appropriately.

Advanced modules (January to April)
You must choose three advanced modules which cover six from 12 topics of study offered (choices are dependent on the final degree outcome to be awarded). Successful completion of the advanced modules, subsequent to the foundation modules, will qualify the student for a Postgraduate Diploma in a selected named degree outcome.

Research Project module (April to August)
The Research Project module is completed in a subject area which complements the chosen course of advanced study or your named degree outcome. These projects can be lab based, field based, or involve a desk study analysis/report. Successful completion of the module, subsequent to foundation and advanced modules, will qualify the student for an MSc in a selected degree outcome.


Delivery and assessment

In addition to lectures, tutorials and seminars, a number of assignments must be completed. Laboratory-based practical sessions and fieldwork are also important elements of the course. Taught module assessment is continuous, involving short tests, seminars, essays, practical reports, critical and computational analysis, field assignments and set project reports. The Research Project module is examined through a written dissertation, a press release and seminar presentation which is delivered to peers, supervisors and the external examiner.


Foundation modules 

  • Principles of aquaculture (Topics: Aquatic animal biology & health and Aquatic animals in the environment) (AQUPG1X)
  • Aquaculture husbandry (Topics:  Aquatic animal nutrition & food safety and Aquatic animal reproduction & genetics) (AQUPG2X)
  • Aquaculture systems (Topics: Aquatic animal production systems and Aquaculture in practice) (AQUPG3X)

Advanced modules (choose three from six)

  • Environmental systems (Topics: Environmental management and Environmental systems modelling) (AQUPG1Y)
  • Husbandry for aquaculture development (Topics: Practical feed production and Broodstock management & genetics) (AQUPG2Y)
  • Aquaculture health control (Topics: Epidemiology and health control and Ecotoxicology) (AQUPG3Y)
  • Aquaculture business design & management (Topics: Aquacultural engineering and Business & financial management) (AQUPG4Y)
  • Global aquatic resources (Topics: Non-fish aquaculture and Aquaculture-fisheries continuum) (AQUPG5Y)
  • Aquaculture and society (Topics: Policy, planning & management and Livelihoods & aquatic resources management) (AQUPG6Y)

Research Project module

View module information

Recommended reading

An excellent starting place for background reading prior to the course is the library of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation publications as this covers a wide range of topics, geographical, species and system contexts.

Modes of study

A variety of teaching approaches are used in the course. In addition to lectures, workshops, seminars, case studies, field and laboratory exercises, 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. 

Study method


Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Example Aquaculture MSc Timetable week - Reproduction


The Sustainable Aquaculture programme involves intensive teaching and study. A standard day involves lectures, practicals, tutorials or group work between 09:30 and 16:30, 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. 

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


The Institute of Aquaculture, with a rating of 2.45 in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), was graded the top Aquaculture department in the UK.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Study abroad opportunities

The Sustainable Aquaculture programme involves a research project of approximately three months duration. This can be carried out in Stirling, or with partner organisations in Scotland and other countries. In recent years, student projects have been hosted in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, USA and New Zealand.


The Institute has been closely associated with the global expansion of aquaculture initially through developing and improving the existing production systems and the development of new farmed species.

In recent years our research has focused on increasing the sustainability and security of aquaculture development and practice, and improving the efficiency of utilising natural resources.

This gives our students the unique opportunity to be associated with these activities and obtain an insight into all aspects of aquacultural sciences and development worldwide.

Our students

Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. Many have first degrees in natural sciences, whilst others have qualifications in agriculture, engineering, business and finance or information technology. Many have some prior work experience and we welcome more mature applicants looking for a step-change in their career. The diversity and experience of students on the programme contributes substantially to everyone's learning and ensures the programme is relevant to, and connected with, the global aquaculture industry.

Our MSc Aquaculture programmes are also very International. In 2016-17 there were 42 MSc students across our programmes from around 25 different countries. This involved students from Europe, the Near/Middle East, Africa, Asia, The Americas and Australasia. Student numbers for Sustainable Aquaculture are typically between 20 and 30. 

Here are some comments from previous students on this programme:

Julien Stevens (USA), Kampachi Farms, Hawaii:

by getting to know professors and industry contacts you are going to build a great network of people to work with in the future,  and as well your class mates are going to be some of those important people professionally for the years to come.



Benjamin Weis (Germany), Scottish Sea Farms, UK:

The best thing about studying at Stirling was the opportunity to get an insight into aquaculture in many different ways, not only salmon aquaculture but all over the world and different species.



Ben Lambden (UK), New England Seafood (UK):

The best aspect of the course for me was the mix of practical and theoretical teaching.



Our staff

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

Professor Trevor Telfer (Environment); Professor Brett Glencross (Nutrition); Professor David Little (Aquaculture and Society); Professor Jimmy Turnbull (Health and Welfare); Professor Herve Migaud (Reproductive Physiology),  Dr David Penman (Genetics and Reproduction); Dr Michael Leaver (Ecotoxicology), Dr Stefano Carboni (Non-fish aquaculture); Dr Oscar Monroig (Nutrition); Dr Bruce McAdam (Environmental Modelling) and Mr John Bostock (Systems and Business).



Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This course has run for over 30 years and has trained over 700 students from all over the world. The comprehensive nature of the course and our close links with UK and overseas industry allows good potential for employment in any aspect of commercial aquaculture. Approximately 30 percent of our students follow a direct route into industry including production, the supply sector (feed, health, equipment and systems), or post-harvest (processing and marketing).

Additionally, the course is an excellent grounding for research and further education, often building on the dissertation, and about 30 percent of graduates choose this route. Links with government departments throughout the world allow many of our graduates to establish careers in aquaculture development and aquaculture management in developing countries.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

We have designed our taught postgraduate courses so that, in addition to learning about your specialist discipline, you will 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 will develop capabilities in the following areas:


  • 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

The majority of our MSc research projects are developed in association with industry and are aimed at solving problems for the aquaculture industry. We also have an informal internship programme with industry, which will involve suitable students in real commercial projects. In the past these have included development projects in Thailand and Vietnam, investigating carrying capacity for Indonesian aquaculture, and working with aqua-treatments within the pharmaceutical industry.

Industry connections

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.

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