School of Biological and Marine Sciences

MSc Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries

The aquaculture and fisheries sectors make essential contributions to global food security and nutrition, contributing >175 million tonnes of production valued at over $400 billion. These sectors 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.

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.

Virtual drop-in sessions

Find out more about postgraduate study in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at our virtual drop-in session.

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.
  • Named among the top 5% of global universities for our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are ranked 4th in relation to SDG 14: Life Below Water, recognising the quality of the University’s marine research and teaching, and 15th in relation to SDG 13: Climate Action, measuring our research on climate change, use of energy and preparations for dealing with the consequences of climate change (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022).
  • Ranked top 15 in the UK and top 100 globally for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings 2023
  • 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 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.
  • Follow the taught programme with an optional 6-12 month industry placement in a zoo or aquarium. Applications for these opportunities are open to students who have achieved a merit or higher within their first semester. This placement provides an opportunity to further develop your expertise in context.
  • 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 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.
    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 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. 

    Optional modules

    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. 
    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.
    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. 
    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.

    Optional second year

    Core modules

    Masters Placement (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).

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 And Fisheries Programme Specification September 2024 7669

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

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £10,500 £11,000
International £18,000 £19,800
Part time (Home) £580 £610
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.

Tuition fee discount for University of Plymouth graduates

If you studied your undergraduate degree at Plymouth, you may be eligible for a fee discount if you complete your postgraduate studies here as well.
  • 10% or 20% discount on tuition fees for home students 
  • £2,000 discount on tuition fees for international students 

Student prizes and honours

Each year we are pleased to offer a number student prizes funded by our industry partners available exclusively to students on this programme:
The DSM Excellence in Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries Award
Awarded to the student who has achieved the overall highest grade on the programme. Value: £2,000.
The Leiber Sustainability in Aquaculture and Fisheries Award
Awarded to the student who has achieved the highest grade on the Sustainable Fisheries module. Value: €1,500.
The Lallemand Innovation and Impact in Aquaculture and Fisheries Award
Awarded to the student who has been deemed to produce the most impactful and innovative dissertation. Value: €1,500.
Additionally, each year, a number of small scholarships (worth £500–£1,000) are attached to selected industry-sponsored dissertation projects. 

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all taught postgraduate students undertaking a placement year will be calculated as 20% of your course's 'home student' tuition fee.
 Learn more about placement year 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 Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information 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 weeksof 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 in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. 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.
Green and brown algaes on field in Indian Ocean, during low tide near Zanzibar
MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems
Sustainable aquaculture facilities

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
MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems

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.


Meet our school technical staff   

Our technical staff are integral to the delivery of all our programmes and bring a diverse range of expertise and skills to support students in laboratories, workshops, and the field.