Aquatic Food Security



Food security is a complex issue of global significance and understanding the role and contribution of seafood within food security is an emerging research area. Seafood products are provided by both aquaculture and capture fisheries and are one of the most highly traded food products globally. Including seafood in our daily diet provides an affordable source of macro and micronutrients required for optimal human health and development.

This course is designed to introduce the global issues affecting seafood production and trading, and will promote an understanding of the key factors affecting aquatic food production, post-harvest protocols, post-mortem metabolic events and microbial/chemical processes key for food safety and quality. Sensory assessment and shelf-life extension technologies will also be covered. The course will also examine other key issues in seafood trading such as traceability systems, certifications as well as the impact of governance and legislation on the global seafood sector.

This is the only aquatic food security MSc currently available in the UK. It will comprehensively follow the food chain from production through to consumer health and welfare.

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: MSc
  • Study methods: Full-time, Campus based
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Rachel Norman
Download postgraduate prospectus

Rachel Norman

University of Stirling

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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.

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

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

This course shares some modules with the MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture and there is flexibility within the system to change the degree title depending on what advanced modules are taken. The course is divided into four taught modules, containing 18 subject areas or topics, and a single Research Project module. The overall course is divided into three parts:

  • Semester 1 - Foundation modules
    There are two compulsory modules consisting of six topics of study, taken consecutively, giving instruction in basic aquaculture concepts and skills. Successful completion of both 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.

  • Semester 2 - Advanced Modules
    In order to graduate with an MSc in Aquatic Food security students must take a module in Food Quality and Safety for the first six weeks and can then chose one module from three for the second six weeks of teaching (choose from Animal Health and Breeding, Aquaculture Development and Numerical Skills).

  • Semester 3 - Research Project module
    Projects can be lab based, field based, or involve a desk study analysis/report or mathematical modelling exercise. Successful completion of the module will qualify the student for the MSc in Aquatic Food security.

Delivery and assessment

In addition to lectures, tutorials and seminars, a number of assignments must be completed. Laboratory-based practical sessions 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 written dissertation and seminar presentations by both supervisors and an external examiner.


Foundation modules:

  • Principles of Aquaculture (topics: Aquatic Animal Biology and Health, Aquatic Animals in the Environment, Aquatic Animal Nutrition and Food Safety) 
  • Aquaculture Production (topics: Aquatic Animal Reproduction & Genetics, Aquatic Production Systems, Aquaculture in Practice)

Advanced Modules:

  • Food Quality and Safety (topics: Seafood Safety and Quality assessment, Spoilage and Sensory Assessment, Global Certification, Food Chain and Legislation)

One of

  • Animal Health & Breeding (topics: Broodstock Management & Genetics, Epidemiology & Health Control, Ecotoxicology)
  • Aquaculture Development (topics: Policy, Planning & Management, Livelihoods & Aquatic Resources Management, Business & Financial Management)
  • Numerical Skills (topics: Handling data, statistical analysis, using mathematical models) (AQUPMM)

Research Project module

Modes of study

Full-time study or discontinuous study by block release. 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.

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 .


This MSc brings a unique perspective to the expertise that already exists in Stirling on global seafood production. It is the only MSc in the UK that focusses on how seafood can contribute to global food security.

We have a number of links in the production, processing and retail industries and this will provide students with the opportunity to interact with industry and potentially carry out a project which is of direct relevance to the sector.

We also have links within Asia and Europe which will allow the opportunity to undertake the Research Project overseas.

Academic strengths

The Institute of Aquaculture 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 reducing the environmental impact of these activities. In addition, we have recently invested in new posts in Aquatic Food Security whose activities also include research into food safety and quality post harvest, aquatic animal nutrition, as well as developing mathematical models of production systems. We therefore have expertise that covers the whole production cycle from farm to fork.

The Institute of Aquaculture is internationally recognised for both research and teaching and is one of only a handful of institutions devoted to aquatic food security. The goal is to develop and promote aquatic food security building on the Institute staff expertise in sustainable aquatic animal production. 

Our staff

Professor Rachel Norman
Rachel has a first class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Stirling and also did a PhD in Liverpool in which she used mathematical models to understand infectious disease dynamics and control. She spent a year in the Zoology department at Oxford University using mathematical models to understand the dynamics and control of Lymphatic filariasis. She came to the Computing Science and Mathematics department as a lecturer in 1996 and since then has been working closely with biologists on models of wildlife diseases. In particular for the last 10 years she has focussed on models of aquatic parasites. In January 2013 she was appointed to the chair of Aquatic Food Security and has been looking at how seafood can contribute to the global issue of food security.

Dr Mags Crumlish
Mags’ research includes the identification and characterisation of microbial diseases affecting farmed aquatic animals. She is particularly interested in understanding the pathogenesis of bacterial infections affecting farmed fish and shellfish. She gained her PhD at Stirling where she continued her research in disease identification and diagnosis leading to the production of vaccines against bacterial infections. She has a keen interest in microbial food safety.

Dr Amaya Albalat
Amaya has a background in fish and crustacean physiology. Her main interests are a better understanding of animal physiological responses in situations of stress, infection, fishing and aquaculture practices and their impact into the post-mortem metabolism and ultimately seafood quality. She conducted her PhD in the University of Barcelona and during the last eight years she has work in the University of Glasgow.

Dr Anthony O’Hare
Anthony is a physicist by background with interests in emergent phenomenon in complex many-body interacting systems, game theoretic approaches to dynamic interacting systems and the simulation of non-linear mathematical model Prior to taking up his position of lecturer in Aquatic Food Security, he completed several years of postdoctoral research in the Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health in the University of Glasgow investigating the transmission dynamics of bovine Tuberculosis within the UK.

Dr Oscar Monroig
Oscar works in fish nutrition with special interest in Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) biosynthesis in farmed species, in particular understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the LC-PUFA biosynthesis and genetic improvement of Atlantic salmon stocks. He has already spent some time in Stirling on a Marie Curie fellowship. Immediately before coming to Stirling Oscar has been working in Spain.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Demand for well qualified postgraduates to contribute to food production and the supply chain will continue to increase in line with demand to double food production over the coming decades. This course provides each student with the appropriate knowledge and practical experience important for a career in aquatic food security. The course has been developed to provide students with core knowledge and practical skills on aquaculture, food safety/quality, numerical analysis and legislation appropriate to aquatic food security. These skills will be equally applicable to those wishing to pursue an academic career as well as those seeking employment in Government or industry. 


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

This course has been developed to provide students with core knowledge and practical skills on aquaculture, food safety/quality, numerical analysis and legislation appropriate to aquatic food security. These skills will be equally applicable to those wishing to pursue an academic career as well as those seeking employment in Government or industry.

Industry connections

We have a number of links in the production, processing and retail industries which provides students with the opportunity to interact with industry and potentially carry out a project which is of direct relevance to the sector. We also have links within Asia and Europe which allows the opportunity to undertake the research project overseas.

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