Aquaculture, Environment and Society MSc

Course code D435

What is special about this course?

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society* STAR (EMJMD ACES-STAR) offers specialised training to deliver highly skilled graduates capable of addressing the challenge of food provision for a growing world population and ecosystem restoration at a time of climate change. 

Food security and ecosystem restoration, through aquaculture, is of global importance and, in the face of declining resources, aquaculture will have an increasing demand for people with in-depth knowledge and practical expertise to enable this major industry to produce nutritious, high-quality, affordable foods and other products. Graduates will be capable of addressing these challenges and will have exciting international career opportunities.

The sustainable development of the aquaculture industry in Europe has become essential for improving the competitiveness of this sector internationally. There are, however, many major scientific, technological and social obstacles to overcome. Students will be equipped with the necessary skills to tackle these obstacles in the years to come.

*subject to re-validation

Special features

  • The course is delivered by an international team of experts at European Centres of Excellence in teaching and research including Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI; University of Crete (Greece); and University of Nantes (France)
  • The course language will be English although students are encouraged to learn Greek and French
  • 64+ associate institutes are an integral part of this course, providing guest scholars with international reputations, 5* research facilities and industry-based dissertation placements
  • The course gives students an opportunity to study for 6 months in three European countries and offers an unparalleled insight into aquaculture practices and policies across Europe and beyond
  • You will gain research experience through a dissertation, linked to an industrial partner and hosted by an ACES-STAR partner, with supervision from experts in the field
  • You will benefit from strong peer-group support and networking, developed throughout the programme as you move around the partners as one group during the first three semesters
  • Scholarships are available on a competitive basis. Any student can apply for a scholarship, and applications from EU and particularly non-EU candidates are welcome

Entry requirements

  • The EMJMD ACES-STAR programme has a truly global focus and looks to recruit students from all over the world. Candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in one of the fields of environmental or social sciences, as well as a good level of English (at least IELTS 6.5 or equivalent). Basic French is recommended (although not essential, as intensive French language classes are provided) for day to day living in Semester 2. Admission is granted on the basis of a competitive selection procedure
  • The course is open to international students who are able to study at SAMS UHI with a standard visitor visa, which allows students to study for a period of 6 months in the UK before moving to the University of Crete

Access routes





To achieve the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters degree, you must successfully complete 3-5 modules (each worth 5-10 ECTS, equivalent to 10-20 SQCF) at each of the partner institutions, and a research dissertation (30 ECTS or 60 SQCF).

Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI modules (Semester 1 - first September):

  • Overview of global aquaculture (core)
  • Environmental interactions of aquaculture (core)
  • Governance and management (optional)
  • Innovation, technology and systems (optional)
  • Managing biological lifecycle: micro- and macroalgae (optional) 

University of Crete modules (Semester 2):

  • Managing lifecycles in captivity: finfish biology, nutrition, reproduction and rearing (core)
  • Fish welfare and diseases management (core)
  • Fish quality – environmental and genetic components (core)
  • Environmental impacts for aquaculture projects (core)
  • Entrepreneurial and professional skills (core)

University of Nantes modules (Semester 3 - second September):

  • Shellfish lifecycle (core)
  • Marine product safety (core)
  • Refinement and development of marine natural products (optional)
  • Food composition, trophic transfer and human nutrition (optional)

You must also complete a dissertation module (Semester 4):
You may choose to study this module at SAMS, the University of Crete, the University of Nantes, or at any of our 64 affiliated partners

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • You will learn through a combination of face-to-face lectures and tutorials, as well as online study via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE). The course is delivered by world-class researchers and guest lecturers from academia, business and industry

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 2 years


Where can I study my course?

  • Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI

Start date

  • September 


Please note fees are in Euros and will be charged based on the current exchange rate.

  2023-24 2024-25
Students normally domiciled in Scotland or the European Union/EEA (outside of the UK) €2500 per annum (€5000 for the full programme) €2500 per annum (€5000 for the full programme)
Students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK €2500 per annum (€5000 for the full programme) €2500 per annum (€5000 for the full programme)
International students €5000 per annum (€10000 for the full programme) €5000 per annum (€10000 for the full programme)



Erasmus Mundus Scholarships are available for this programme, which cover tuition fees, insurance, travel, and monthly subsistence costs.

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre scholarships are available to cover tuition fees.

Please see website – for full details.

Additional costs

Additional costs will apply to students without the Erasmus Mundus scholarship and will include: clothing (lab coats); relocation costs between Host Partners (approximately £150); and travel insurance costs.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On successful completion of the programme you will receive a Joint Masters Degree from the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Crete, and a single degree from the University of Nantes. In addition to these qualifications, you will also receive a diploma supplement from each core partner. You will emerge with detailed knowledge of the global aquaculture industry and with the benefit of practical work experience in this sector.

Our alumni are typically employed within three months of completing the course. Approxiately 50% secure PhDs internationally and 50% go on to be employed within the sector. Employers have included:

  • World Fish
  • Marine Harvest
  • Scottish Seafarms
  • SAMS Seaweed Academy

Roles within the industry have included:

  • Hatchery and farm management
  • Policy development
  • Environmental management

For more information, please visit the careers and employability page at:

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Apply for Aquaculture, Environment and Society MSc

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2024

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.