School of Biological and Marine Sciences

MSc Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries

Aquaculture and fisheries are intertwined; sharing the same environment and frequently interdependent on one another. Ensuring that aquatic farming practices, and wild fish populations, are sustainably managed is essential to support the needs of our growing population and to protect our aquatic ecosystems. The fisheries and aquaculture sectors make essential contributions to global food security and nutrition, contributing >175 million tonnes of production valued at over $400 billion.

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 socio-economic factors.

Meet the lecturers

Register now and join our virtual drop-in session to speak with our postgraduate programme leaders. Find out more about course content, placements, industry links, and more.

  • 17 May 2023, 13:00–14:00 (UK time)

Find out more about this event

Key features

  • Our MSc Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries 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 these fields.
  • Choose specialised modules and draw on the expertise of internationally recognised research-active staff. We are ranked 1st globally in relation to SDG 14: Life Below Water, recognising the quality of the University’s marine research and teaching and 19th in the world in SDG 2: Zero Hunger, recognising our research and teaching on hunger and food sustainability (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021).
  • Gain experience from a range of field trips, including the possibility of a residential field course, typically to Greece or Scotland (or an alternative field course), to restocking hatcheries, farms and other related facilities.
  • Join a rich research community working and undertake your research project and technical training with our state-of-the-art facilities including aquaria, wet labs, marine station, nutrition and feed analytical suites and teaching laboratories.
  • Benefit from our strong relationships with government agencies, leaders in industry and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), advancing your technical and scientific knowledge.
  • Graduate opportunities include various career paths within the aquaculture industry, government organisations, NGOs, research and development and sustainability bodies. Previous graduates have progressed into careers in these fields or PhD programmes in the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • Core modules

    Health and Production in Aquaculture (BIO504)

    This module addresses the biological, chemical and physical factors that affect the health of freshwater and marine organisms. The curriculum will include an evaluation of sustainable approaches towards enhancing health and production levels through the use of conventional and novel techniques. Developments in disease management, genetic improvement, nutrition and water quality optimisation will be included.

    Sustainable Fisheries (BIO5132)

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

    Research Project (BIO505)

    Students will design, conduct and report an original piece of research on a subject relevant to their named MSc Programme.

    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.

    Seafood Processing – Current Perspectives (BIO5209)

    Several factors influence the quality and sustainability of 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.

    Optional modules

    Select two modules from four options:

    Managing Marine Ecosystems (MAR530)

    The module will provide students with an understanding of marine ecosystems and their vulnerability to anthropogenic threats. Anticipatory and responsive management measures will be discussed, including relevant marine conservation agreements, legislation and policy.

    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.

    Remote Sensing and GIS (MAR518)

    This module introduces the principles of geographical information systems and remote sensing of marine, polar and coastal environments. Field data will be acquired using GPS and radiometric instrumentation. Emphasis is placed on the critical evaluation of remote sensing data and analysis tools in varied scenarios and on developing practical computing skills.

    Aquarium Health and Nutrition (ANIM5012)

    This module addresses the fundamentals of preventative health and nutrition in the context of aquariums as businesses and centres for education, research and conservation. Particular focus will be placed on exemplars of taxa-/species-specific conditions and on understanding how environments and diets may be managed to minimise health risks to animals.

    Optional Placement Year

    The optional placement year will be available to students achieving a Merit (60% or greater) in Semester 1 modules.

    Masters Placement Preparation (APIE500)

    This module is aimed at students who will be undertaking an industrial placement as part of their Masters programme. It is designed to assist students in their search for a placement, and preparation for the placement itself.

    Masters Placement Preparation (APIE501)

    This module enables students to take a 6-12 month placement linked to their programme. Assessment is based on Progress Reports, Regional Tutor evaluation, Employer evaluation and self-evaluation via reflective report (or portfolio).

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

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home N/A £10,500
International N/A £18,000
Part time (Home) N/A £580
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, 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.
<p>Green and brown algaes on field in Indian Ocean, during low tide near Zanzibar<br></p>
<p>MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems<br></p>
<p>Sustainable aquaculture facilities</p>

Hear from our graduates

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
<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.