School of Biological and Marine Sciences

MSc Sustainable Aquaculture

Aquaculture is recognised as the fastest growth sector of agribusiness. Today, 50% of the fish we eat are farmed and by 2030 it will be 60%. Our multidisciplinary approach places emphasis on the sustainable use of aquatic and marine resources for commercial exploitation of food and products. Discover the scientific rationale for improving aquatic animal health and production, reducing environmental impact, and addressing the socio-economic factors.

Apply for 2023 entry

Join this exciting course from September 2023.

Key features

  • Our MSc Sustainable Aquaculture programme provides you with an opportunity to engage with world leading research, with access to outstanding aquaculture facilities and immersive field trips that will give you the tools to make the most of the global career opportunities in this field.
  • Develop an appreciation for the growing aquaculture industry within a sustainable agenda for meeting the needs of culturing fish, crustacean, mollusc, aquatic plants and invertebrates for their products.
  • Choose specialised modules and draw on the expertise of research active staff with proven track records of teaching and national as well as international recognition in their fields.
  • Gain experience of the aquaculture industry from a range of field trips, including the possibility of an overseas residential field course, typically to Greece or Scotland (or an alternative field course), to hatcheries, farms and other related facilities.
  • Join a rich research group working on various aspects of nutrition, health, disease, behaviour, microbiomes and welfare of species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs of commercial relevance.
  • Undertake a variety of projects and technical training with our contemporary facilities such as wet labs/aquaria, nutrition and feed analytical suites as well as teaching laboratories, molecular biology and an electron microscopy centre.
  • Gain access to expertise from leaders in industry and commerce in a variety of aquaculture systems, advancing your technical and scientific knowledge.
  • Benefit from our strong relationships with government agencies, commercial enterprising and advisory organisations.
  • Join our well established postgraduate environment where PhD students interact and engage in related specialised areas to foster a sound academic forum for sharing ideas and technical knowledge.
  • Graduate opportunities include various career paths within the aquaculture industry as well as associated fields relating to fish and shellfish health, welfare and research. Previous graduates have progressed into careers in these fields or PhD programmes in the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Course details
  • Programme overview

  • You’ll learn about the scale and nature of the global industry and the challenges required to develop sustainable solutions. The programme reflects key aspects of fish, shellfish and algae production relating to modern aquaculture practices with emphasis on nutrition, feed management, health, welfare and sustainable technology. It also incorporates the socio-economic and geo-political developments in this expanding area as well as marketing and enterprise. Topics include: fish nutrition, feed technology, fish and shellfish health management, disease prevention and genetic improvement of stock for aquaculture; management of fish production, ornamental fish culture and global demand for aquatic trades in captive fish species; environmental and legislative regulations in different countries and the problems of aquaculture expansion in rural areas; economics of the marine environment; seafood processing; and a research project leading to your dissertation.

    Core modules

    • Health and Production in Aquaculture (BIO504)

      This module will address the biological, chemical and physical factors underpinning the health of organisms (including algae, invertebrates and fish) reared in freshwater and saltwater. The curriculum will include an evaluation of sustainable approaches towards enhancing health and production levels through the use of conventional and novel approaches. Developments in disease management, genetic improvement, nutrition and water quality optimisation will be included.

    • Research Project (BIO505)

      Aspects of animal management will be studied encompassing the relationships between ethological concepts and techniques, learning, training, and enrichment.

    • Sustainable Use of Resources in Biological Systems (BIO5125)

      This module provides a framework for the analysis of resource utilisation and management in biological systems. Students will study example systems appropriate to their programme of study to allow them to evaluate the extent to which resources are used sustainably

    • Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods (BIO5131)

      The module provides the research- and communication-related skills that biology postgraduates require to carry out an original research project at the forefront of their academic discipline. Emphasis is given to the philosophy, design, ethics and management of research, effective communication to a range of audiences, and advice on career management and presentation skills involved in job applications and interviews.

    • Contemporary Issues in Aquaculture (BIO5208)

      This module will address the key conceptual issues in aquaculture towards promotion of sustainable solutions to the key problems and issues facing this industry in the early twenty first century.

    • Seafood Processing - Current Perspectives (BIO5209)

      Several factors influence the quality and sustainable to foods from primary production along the added value chain from the aquatic systems into consumers. In addition to the study of systems and mechanisms, there will be also opportunities to develop creativity, and technical skills necessary to provide solutions for efficient and sustainable production systems.

    • Economics of the Marine Environment (MAR507)

      This module will provide students with a clear overview of the problems associated with economic activity in marine environment and the potential solutions to these problems.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Sustainable Aquaculture programme specification_6903

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements


A 2:1 or equivalent preferably in a Biology, Environmental Science, Zoology, Marine Biology related subject. We will consider a 2:2 or equivalent or other relevant awards. If you don’t have any recent formal qualifications, we may accept workplace experience.


If you are an overseas applicant you can check the compatibility of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through Ecctis, which provides an advisory service.

If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5 (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element).

For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £9,400 £10,200
International £16,700 £18,000
Part time (Home) £500 £570
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

Aquaculture Scholarship Programme 

Each year we are pleased to offer a number scholarships funded by our industry partners for students on this programme. These scholarships are typically valued at £1,000 each and are funded by companies such as Biomin GmbH, Lallemand SAS and Leiber GmbH. Please contact Dr Daniel Merrifield for further details on scholarships available this year.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

The University applies a discretionary alumnus reward where alumni meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • A 20 per cent discount on home tuition fees.
  • Or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Discover more about our programme

Our MSc programme is unique in its ethos and content for the promotion of aquaculture, based on sound principles adhering to scientific and ethical concepts relating to resource utilisation, animal welfare and human requirements.

You’ll learn about the scale and nature of the global industry through specialised modules and packages.

Learn more about sustainable aquaculture
<p>Getty images 589120498 fish</p>

Field trips

We undertake a number of field trips as part of the programme which provide you with a unique insight into the industry, building upon the learning material delivered within the MSc.

Find out about the trips we undertake

<p>MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems<br></p>

Research opportunities and facilities

You will join a rich research group containing postdoctoral research fellows, PhD students and masters students working on various aspects of nutrition, health, disease, behaviour, microbiomes and welfare of species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs of commercial relevance.

Learn more about our research opportunities and facilities

<p>Getty image</p><p>Sustainable aquaculture systems</p><p>fish farm</p>

Let our graduates inspire you

Career opportunities on every continent

The masters programme provides students with a real advantage in preparing for their future career in aquaculture. The world class research and teaching at the University of Plymouth gives a real advantage to the students in the commercial world

Dr Ralph Bickerdike, Head of Fish Health and Welfare at Scottish Sea Farms

Discover more about the range of career opportunities available to our graduates
<p>MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems<br></p>

Our partners

The MSc is greatly enhanced through our wide network of links and partnerships with organisations that contribute to the programme through guest lectures, offering placements, supporting research projects and hosting field trips.