Master of Science in Aquaculture
The MSc Aquaculture calls upon the UGent and European aquaculture expertise to educate and train students and scholars from European and third countries in order to stimulate transfer of knowledge to and from Europe, nurturing in this way a sustainable development of aquaculture in these countries. We offer a long-standing worldwide reputation in the field of education and training in aquaculture.
The increasing consumption of aquatic products in the European countries has drawn much attention to the development of a sustainable aquaculture and fishery sector. Declining fishery catches and changing consumer requirements for a diversified range of safe, high-quality farmed aquatic products has inevitably lead to regional and national specialisation in research as well as in education. Due to the diversity of aquaculture and fisheries, education in this sector calls for a multidisciplinary approach.
Also in non-European countries (including ‘Third Countries’) the demand for aquatic animal products is rising, putting pressure on the natural resources. Hence in these countries the interest for aquaculture products is high (Far East, Africa) and is already the subject of a fast developing economic activity (Far East) or has the potential of becoming so (Africa). World statistics do indeed indicate that aquatic food is traded very intensively. It is estimated that 50 % of the total aquatic production is crossing national borders. The MSc Aquaculture calls upon the UGent and European aquaculture expertise to educate and train students and scholars from European and third countries in order to stimulate transfer of knowledge to and from Europe, nurturing in this way a sustainable development of aquaculture in these countries.
The Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center of Ghent University, Belgium has a long-standing worldwide reputation in the field of education and training in aquaculture.
The objectives of the programme are:
- to deliver researchers able to perform and design research in various aquaculture fields;
- to deliver experts who can draw and implement strategies for future development in the aquaculture industry;
- to form key persons who can act as a nucleus in their local environment through dissemination and teaching their acquired knowledge;
- to deliver academically trained staff for the aquaculture industry.
The admission requirements vary. Depending on your preliminary training, you are either able to enrol directly, or there are additional requirements.
The Master of Science of Aquaculture is a two-year programme at an university level on the most important aspects of aquaculture for both marine and freshwater organisms. In the first semester, basic knowledge such as biology, physiology, microbiology, statistics, informatics are broadened and/or refreshed. The second semester of the first year focuses on specific aspects in aquaculture such as larviculture and larval food production, fish and shellfish production techniques, algae culture and farm management training.
The whole first semester of the second year students follow specialised courses on diseases, genetics and management at Ghent University. This master’s programme is organised solely in English and receives a diverse international audience. Several guest speakers and practicing scientists and scholars from other European institutions (and abroad) contribute to the programme. The Faculty of Bioscience Engineering has a wide range of bilateral agreements for both student and lecture exchange with universities all over the world. This offers opportunities for integration of the UGent Aquaculture curriculum with the curriculum of other universities teaching aquaculture at the MSc level, leading to a higher variety of specialised courses, internships and dissertation work. The many excursions to different fish and shellfish farms in Europe will give the student a better understanding of the industry. Students have the opportunity to follow a farm training in marine or freshwater farms or research centre. Specialised courses such as Aquatic Farm Management Training, Fish Culture Techniques, Management in the Aquaculture Industry ... compare the European situation with the situation in the student’s country of origin..
Students can choose the topic for their master’s Dissertation (thesis) in a broad range of disciplines in which the scientific staff of the master’s programmes is active. In general, the students become involved in ongoing research within the research laboratories of their promoter(s). They can however also propose their own research topic. Thanks to our extended international network, students can perform their master’s dissertation work in laboratories in other (non-) European countries. Students have to conduct research with the appropriate expertise in order to contribute to the development of a particular research domain. The ultimate goal is to initiate students into research at an academic level so that, upon completion of their master’s programme, they are able to carry out scientific research in a proper way. Specific requirements will be mentioned in the practical procedure.
Aquaculture is a diverse and dynamic industry. It depends on knowledge from a series of disparate disciplines (e.g. biology, engineering, marketing), and it is constantly evolving, drawing on new technologies and the outputs of a range of R&D activities. Consequently, there is a need of highly trained and skilled personnel with specific but varying skills in order to be able to exploit existing aquaculture potentials in a profitable and sustainable way, therefore it is essential to educate and train these aquaculture specialists of the future at European universities. Europe also needs to educate and train students and scholars from third countries in order to stimulate transfer of knowledge to and from Europe.
At Ghent University, we strive to educate people who dare to think about the challenges of tomorrow. For that purpose, we provide education that is embedded in six strategic objectives: Think Broadly, Keep Researching, Cultivate Talent, Contribute, Extend Horizons, Opt for Quality.
Ghent University continuously focuses on quality assurance and quality culture. The Ghent University's quality assurance system offers information on each study programme’s unique selling points, and on its strengths and weaknesses with regard to quality assurance.
Ghent University's Education Objectives
Unique Selling Points
- Research-embedded approach: since 1991, our programme offers education in state-of-the-art aquaculture knowledge thanks to the broad base of in-house research excellence acquired by lecturers of Ghent University’s Aquaculture R&D Consortium, and by contributions from a series of invited experts from renown European aquaculture institutes.
- International dimension: our team has successfully run numerous aquaculture education and research projects on all continents for the past 30 years. Our programme’s strong international dimension is reflected by the cosmopolitan student intake. The learning path also offers opportunities for an inspiring international experience through the partnership with Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and Can Tho University (Vietnam) as well as internships and/or master’s dissertation work at one of our many international partners in Africa, Europe, Asia or Latin-America.
- Multidisciplinary character: aquaculture is a relatively young, diverse and dynamic industry, highly dependent on innovation in its various disciplines. This programme combines thorough teaching of fundamental aspects (biology, statistics, physiology, ecology, …) with in-depth research-based education in the most recent advances in specialized aquaculture aspects (health management, aquatic resource management, microbial management).
- Tailored didactic methods for knowledge transfer: the programme features a wide range of traditional and modern didactic tools chosen in function of maximal efficiency for the transfer of knowledge and skills. Besides classroom teaching (about 35%), course units rely on guided self-study, practical exercises, study visits and excursions, peer-to-peer teaching, role play, etcetera.
- Applicability: The IMAQUA programme prepares its students for successful careers at the highest level in European and international aquaculture research and industry as well as in policy-making. This is substantiated by the achievements and profiles of our alumni.
- Preparatory course:we offer students the opportunity to participate in BePREP, a preparatory summer school prior to the academic year. The BePREP summer school combines refresher courses on basic themes (mathematics, chemistry, statistics) with introductory sessions on student life in Ghent/Belgium, administrative issues, cultural competencies, basic ICT and laboratory skills. Last but not least, the programme fosters a sense of community among international students at our faculty as well as with its student support staff and fellow Flemish students.
- Staff approachability: the relatively small group of students (around 20) engenders a low student/staff ratio. All involved staff are very approachable – both teaching staff regarding academic issues as well as administrative, technical and other supporting staff regarding any practical problem or issue a student may encounter. Students interact with the staff in both a formal and informal way to discuss research, as well as academic and practical matters related to studying in Belgium.
- Student involvement:students and assisting staff actively contribute to quality assurance of the programme. The annual (anonymous) course feedback by students is compulsory, and the feedback is communicated to the lecturer and the Director of Studies. Recurring substandard course feedback leads to corrective actions. IMAQUA lectures are typically assessed at least as “good” but predominantly as “very good” or “excellent”. Our Programme Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss matters related to the quality and organization of the programme. Student representatives make up at least 1/3 of the total members and have voting rights.
- Expert teaching staff: through its groundbreaking research on larviculture and novel microbial management tools, our team has earned worldwide recognition in its discipline. Lecturers in the programme are international leading researchers in aquaculture or related fields, are engaged and motivated and come from a wide variety of disciplines.
- Student support: programme management, the faculty and the university provide a range of supporting services and staff for students such as the faculty Ombudsperson, welcome days, social events, a buddy system, student counselling, career advice, alumni services, university medical and psychological service, etcetera.
- Albeit not mandatory, the work placement are considered an integral part of the Master’s programme. As the work placement is believed to be a unique opportunity to gain professional expertise, build networks, learn to apply acquired knowledge, and sharpen interpersonal and other generic skills, students are strongly stimulated to pursue work placement options.
- The heavy study load has repeatedly been mentioned in course feedback by students. Written exams, still the most common form of assessment, result in a study load mainly towards the exam period while the frequent assignments also burden students in the course of the academic year. We advise lecturers to assign more weight to assignment results and less on the final exam to achieve a better balance between end-of-term and continuous assessment.
- Students are typically requesting more hands-on training. The inauguration of new facilities in September 2016 already made more own experimental work by students possible. To further meet the students’ appeal, a concept for an ‘experimental playground’ is examined, meaning that students can freely use the experimental set-up for research questions raised in consultation with a tutor.
This study programme is accredited by the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (Dutch: NVAO). Accreditation was extended following the positive outcome of the institutional review in 2017. Programme quality was validated by a quality review, i.e. a screening of the Education Monitor by the Education Quality Board. The Quality Assurance Resolution (in Dutch) can be found here.
This information was last updated on 01/06/2021.
In case of questions or suggestions with regard to the publicly available information, please contact the study programme.