Do you want to help find new solutions to manage our marine natural resources?

This programme is studied on campus.

Run in collaboration with staff at Marine Scotland Science, this MSc programme will provide you with an appreciation of the key issues that are central to the management of marine resources, practical skills and field work experience that you can apply to real world situations and opportunities to expand your professional network.

Taught by renowned researchers and leading practitioners you will gain valuable insights into marine ecosystems in Scotland and internationally. You will learn to analyse and interpret marine data sets, understand relevant policy, write professional reports and apply your knowledge and skills to the challenging task of managing marine resources.

Studying at world class facilities, you will have the opportunity to undertake field research in marine ecology at several stations like Oceanlab and Cromarty Lighthouse. There are also opportunities to carry out research in partnership with professional agencies such as Marine Scotland Science (MSS), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

This MSc is aimed at individuals with a relevant undergraduate degree who wish to gain specialist knowledge and technical skills. The programme will benefit individuals looking to progress to PhD level and those already working in marine sciences who are keen to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

The taught part of our MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology programme requires students to take eight compulsory courses over two terms. In addition, students will also choose from a diverse range of elective courses according to their individual learning objectives. For example, you can choose to enhance your skills in marine data analysis and Geographic Information Systems, or deepen your knowledge of the key components of marine ecology and ecosystems.

Compulsory Courses

Marine & Fisheries Ecology, Conservation and Management (15 credit points)

Using the North Sea as a case study, one of the most well studied marine ecosystems, students will critically evaluate key issues related to the conservation and management of marine resources. Lectures from marine ecologists, industry consultants and government scientists working in applied marine management provide insights into current issues. Practical work provides training in data recording and analysis and the feedback received on your scientific report will strengthen your written communication skills. Class debate will provide an opportunity to strengthen your critical thinking skills and support the development of strong oral communication skills.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Population Ecology (ZO5304) - 15 Credit Points

The course is structured as a series of weekly themes, which each reflect areas of current research in animal ecology. The content of the course is research-based, drawing on case studies from research-active staff within the School of Biological Sciences. The topics cover a range of ecological and spatial scales: from single species’ population dynamics to community dynamics, and from local to macro-scale processes, with a focus on the application of current ecological knowledge and theory.

View detailed information about this course

Experimental Design and Analyses (BI5009) - 15 Credit Points

This course is uniquely tailored for biologists and will provide students with the required background theory and practical skills relevant to modern ecology and biology. The unique format of example-led lectures and real-world based practicals will provide you with a foundation to become confident and proficient in analysing real data. Throughout this course, we will introduce you to using the programming language R to implement modern statistical modelling techniques. You will use the flexible linear and generalised linear modelling frameworks to analyse biological data with emphasis on robust and reproducible research methods.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Statistics for Complex Study Designs (15 credit points)

This highly regarded course will take your understanding of statistics to the next level and provide you with the skills and confidence to analyse your complex biological data. Through a combination of lectures, computer based practicals and group work you will gain an understanding of how to deal with pervasive issues in the analysis of real world biological data such as heterogeneity of variance and spatial and temporal non-independence. Hands on computer tutorials will allow you to apply statistical models using modern statistical software (R) to real data, collected by researchers to answer real biological questions.

Molecular Ecological Techniques (15 credit points)

The course will develop the student’s awareness of how molecular genetic techniques, including modern ‘omics technologies, can be used to inform our understanding of aspects of ecology, evolution, population biology and conservation science. The course will describe the underlying central dogma of molecular biology that explains how genetic diversity arises and can be harnessed as molecular markers. It will then review the contribution of molecular genetics in individual, population and species level studies.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Applications of GIS (15 credit points)

This course will give you an understanding of fundamental concepts in geographical information systems (GIS), an appreciation of the ways in which GIS can be used in ecology and environmental science, and practical skills in using ArcGIS software to answer questions and solve problems in a spatial context. The course is designed to broaden your portfolio of research skills and enhance your employability. Most of the activity involves practicing on a range of real-world examples from research in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, before choosing a case study and devising your own questions to demonstrate your command of the conceptual underpinnings and proficiency with the software.

Fisheries Science (15 credit points)

The course, which includes a significant contribution from Marine Scotland’s Science’s Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, introduces students to the essential elements of fisheries science. It consists of three main sections: fishing technology and behaviour, fishery independent methods, and stock assessment techniques. Ultimately it will equip students with the basic knowledge and skills required to assess the abundance and distribution of fish and to understand key elements of the provision of advice for fisheries management.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Optional Courses

Sustainable Aquaculture (15 credit points)

Lectures by research staff working in aquaculture provide you with specialised knowledge in a range of current issues, including growth, nutrition, health and disease resistance, genetics and environmental interactions. Preparation for seminars and the essay allow you to direct your own learning and explore methods and current advances in your chosen topic. Participation in the seminars helps you to develop your communication skills and provides you with feedback on your understanding of the issues.

Marine Environmental Impact Assessment (online) (15 credit points)

In recent decades, concern about environmental damage in different parts of the world has led to public pressure on governments to regulate ‘developers’ and others so as to minimise adverse environmental effects, while allowing economic activities to continue. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been developed as a critical component of the approach to achieving sustainable development.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Marine Spatial Management (ZO5518) - 15 Credit Points

You develop an appreciation of the level of understanding of the physical and biological oceanography, biodiversity, trophic interactions, species survival and reproduction issues required to implement spatially explicit, sustainable ecosystem-base management, conservation and effective marine spatial planning.

Lectures from marine ecologists, industry consultants and government scientists working in applied marine management provide insights into current issues.

Practical work provides training in use of R, Excel, data analysis and strengthens your written communication skills.

Group and individual working strengthen your critical thinking and problem-solving skills and support the development of strong oral communication.

View detailed information about this course

Ecology, Conservation and Society (EK5510) - 15 Credit Points

Six themes that reflect current theory and practice in the interface between ecology, conservation and society are explored through structured in-class activities challenging you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives.

Case studies drawn from different disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, economics, human geography, philosophy) increase capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems often framed as ecological.

Four short discussion essays are required; you will get detailed feedback for improving your writing skills.

Weekly student-led discussions allow you to develop your capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning, and skills in facilitating discussion.

View detailed information about this course

Marine Conservation Management (ZO5009) - 15 Credit Points

Effective engagement with conservation of marine biodiversity requires an open mind, creativity, patience and an appreciation of shared learning. This course is structured to help you develop those essential skills while building your understanding of current issues in marine conservation and how conservation professionals engage with these issues.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 3

Semester 3

The School has a strong research culture and this environment is important in engaging your enthusiasm for your research project. This is an excellent opportunity to carry out pioneering research, often as an active member of an existing research group. A member of staff in the School usually supervises the 15 week research project, although it is possible to carry out research projects under the supervision of staff out with the School, e.g. at the Marine Scotland Science, Marine Laboratory.

Compulsory Courses

Examples of previous projects:

  • Coral reef monitoring in Mauritius
  • Habitat modelling of Basking Sharks
  • Estimating human-dolphin interactions using spatially explicit models
  • Dialect evolution of call-types in North Pacific Killer Whale populations
Research Project / Dissertation (ZO5902) - 60 Credit Points

The three-month individual Research Project can cover any area of applied marine and fisheries ecology and is undertaken under the supervision of a staff member who is expert in your chosen field. Many projects are also done in collaboration with an external organisation. The project provides opportunities for you to develop your abilities and skills, generate hypotheses and design ways of testing them and to analyse, report and discuss your findings. You will learn to take responsibility for implementing your own plans and modifying them as necessary. The project is written up in the form of a scientific paper manuscript.

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Our Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology taught programme combines traditional lectures and practicals with a diverse range of learning formats. Student debates and group working are an integral part of the programme, enhancing communication and team working skills.

The programme provides many opportunities to engage with staff from Marine Scotland, SNH and JNCC, as well as professionals from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector representing environmental consulting firms and fishing interests. Workshops dedicated to developing generic professional skills, such as how to write a C.V., are held every second week as part of the Personal Research Development course.

Aberdeen is well situated for providing students with learning opportunities outside the classroom, including:

  • Outdoor field work at the University’s field stations and research sites
  • Tours of marine industry facilities, including aquaculture farms and fish markets
  • Access to laboratories that monitor water quality, fish health and fisheries
  • Tours of Marine Scotland’s fleet of research vessels
  • Safety at sea certification

The research project is the ultimate learning experience, drawing together the knowledge and skills you have acquired to address a specific research question under the supervision of experts in the field. Projects can be field-based, laboratory-based or desk-based according to individual learning objectives.

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research

Assessment Methods

The degree programme is assessed using a diverse range of formats including written reports, oral presentations, practical write-ups, group reports, management plans, literature reviews, project plans and the research project report. Academics provide detailed, individual feedback.

Why Study Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology?

  • You will develop quantitative skills such as statistical and mathematical modelling, making you more attractive to prospective employers.
  • Aberdeen is the centre of a diverse range of marine activities and the programme offers interaction with a range of industries from aquaculture to offshore oil and gas.
  • Courses are delivered by internationally renowned academics, government scientists, teaching fellows and marine resource managers.
  • You will gain essential research skills including project planning, literature reviewing, data analysis and interpretation which will be beneficial to your future career.
  • Study at world class research facilities such as Oceanlab located on the Ythan Estuary, the Lighthouse field station in Moray Firth, Bettyhill and Eynhallow.
  • Guest lectures from NGOs, the fishing industry, government agencies and staff from Marine Scotland Science.
  • You will have the opportunity to engage with Marine Scotland staff, go on tours of their fleet of research vessels and collaborate with them for research projects. A number of our graduates have gone on to work for Marine Scotland after completing their degree.
  • The University of Aberdeen is ranked number 1 in Scotland in terms of overall research excellence in the fields of earth systems and environmental sciences (REF 2014).
  • Aberdeen is one of the best places in the world for dolphin spotting and is also home to the largest dolphins in the world.

What Our Students Say

Anna Harte

Anna Harte

Anna Harte

One of the first things you'll do on the MSc is the field trip to the Lighthouse Field Research Station at Cromarty. The trip is a great way to get to know your new coursemates, with a boat trip out into the Firth and scavenger hunt around the town!

Eilidh Siegal

Eilidh Siegal

Eilidh Siegal

This course has allowed me to pursue research in marine mammals and provided me with an excellent background knowledge in marine ecology. I used to dread any statistics or GIS, but this course has been ideal for building up these technical skills!

Janne Haugen

Janne Haugen

Janne Haugen

I chose the University of Aberdeen for two reasons. Firstly because the structure of the program seemed to be a good fit for me and secondly, the people I spoke to before arriving were really helpful and quick to answer all of my questions.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

A UK 2:1 honours degree (or international equivalent), in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, or other relevant subject; applicants with a 2ii (or equivalent), particularly with some relevant experience, may also be considered. We also consider individuals with degrees in a wider range of disciplines who are clearly motivated by the programme and have some relevant experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £10,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £21,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

The following options are available to support your studies.

  • Tuition Fee and Living Cost Loans - SAAS loans up to £10,000 for eligible students
  • Aberdeen International Masters Scholarship - £2,000 tuition fee discount for eligible students
  • Alumni Discount Scheme - 20% discount for our alumni
  • Scottish Fishermen’s Trust - up to 3 bursaries of £1000 each for students undertaking their research project in an area related to SFT business (fisheries, offshore energy)
  • Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre - 2 awards are available to cover MSc fees for 1 academic year. Successful applicants must commit to a project relevant to the aquaculture industry in Scotland

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


This programme has an established track record of graduates securing exciting jobs in marine sciences. This success is due in part to the University’s focus on applied skills and expertise that are closely aligned to employers’ needs. You will also benefit from enhanced career opportunities and develop an invaluable network of contacts that will help you to establish your career in related industries.

There are a range of career options available to you upon completion of your studies including Fisheries Manager, Marine Resources Manager, Environmental Assessor, Marine Renewables Consultant as well as further study towards a PhD.

Our graduates work for many organisations including NAFC Marine Centre, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Marine Scotland Science, Marine Conservation Society, British Antarctic Survey, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Scottish Natural Heritage and the BBC.

Career Opportunities

  • Environmental Assessor
  • Fisheries Manager
  • Marine Renewables Consultant
  • Marine Resources Manager

Programme Overview

Dr Tara Marshall describes how our MSc will give you knowledge and skills to apply to real world situations.

Watch video

Research Impact

Professor Paul Thompson and his team have been instrumental in mitigating the impacts of offshore installations on marine mammals in EU protected areas.

Watch video

What our Alumni Say

Godwin Amu Otogo

Godwin Amu Otogo

Godwin Amu Otogo

Job Details
Assistant Research Fellow
Graduated 2013

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme was one of the main reasons for my choosing to study at Aberdeen. I feel that the MSc has enhanced my career greatly.

Edward Wright

Edward Wright

Edward Wright

Job Details
Project Officer for the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme
Graduated 2013

The benefit of this MSc is that academic staff are involved in a wide range of world leading marine research. This exposure to many areas is particularly good if you don't know what you want to do beyond "marine or fisheries science".

Our Experts

The programme will be delivered by an experienced, multidisciplinary team of internationally renowned researchers in applied marine and fisheries ecology. Scientists from Marine Scotland also contribute to the programme, enabling students to learn about marine resource management from the Managers themselves.

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


Image for Lighthouse Field Station
Lighthouse Field Station

Lighthouse Field Station

The Lighthouse Field Station is located in Cromarty, at the tip of the Black Isle. It has the dual aim of undertaking and supporting research and integrating this work into teaching and outreach activities.

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Oceanlab is a field research station located on the banks of the Ythan estuary overlooking Forvie National Nature Reserve. Staff and students based here are heavily involved in international projects and research expeditions.

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Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX