Doctoral Programme on Marine Ecosystem Health and Conservation (MARES)

General information

MARES is a Joint Doctoral Programme on Marine Ecosystem Health & Conservation funded through Erasmus Mundus. The programme is offered by a consortium of 24 partners originating from 14 different countries. MARES will focus on six scientific and applied fields, all dealing with the effects of the impact of humans on the natural marine environment. These fields will be fully integrated in a three-year doctorate programme under joint supervision.

  1. Future oceans: temperature changes - hypoxia - acidification
  2. Understanding biodiversity effects on the functioning of marine ecosystems
  3. Biological invasions
  4. Natural resources: overexploitation, fisheries and aquaculture
  5. Ocean noise pollution
  6. Habitat loss, urban development, coastal infrastructures and Marine Spatial Planning

MARES also offers a Training Programme for its doctoral candidates. The MARES programme defines a common foundation in which all doctoral candidates must build on regardless of research topic and institutions. This common foundation is the following:

  • Research periods with at least two MARES partner institutions
  • Co-tutelle, resulting in a Joint Doctoral Degree
  • Obtaining 24 credits in training: at least 10 credits in transferable skills and 10 credits in advanced research topics
  • Attending and participating in at least two MARES Annual Meetings
  • Attending and participating in at least two international scientific conferences (with a poster or oral presentation)
  • Having at least one publication accepted in a peer reviewed journal.

In this wasy, MARES doctoral candidates will be involved in common activities, giving them opportunities for networking with other doctoral candidates, other academia, research organizations and enterprises. Based on this partnership, an important ALUMNI post-doc organization can be launched with trained leaders in Marine Ecosystem Health and Conservation.

The MARES Doctoral Training Programme is offered  as well to other doctoral candidates, outside the MARES doctoral programme, that would like to attend the MARES courses. The training catalogue is published separately in the European Marine Training Portal. For more information please see:

All MARES doctoral candidates will study with two of the partner institutions and will be awarded a joint Ph.D. degree (Doctorate in Marine Sciences). MARES works with pre-defined Doctoral Subjects. Applicants apply for a certain doctoral subject which has its research scope, partnership selection and supervisors pre-defined. These doctoral subjects are created by the future supervisors. Doctoral candidates are expected to write a more detailed Doctoral Research Proposal in the first month of the start of their activities, which is then re-evaluated by the MARES Scientific Board. 

Contact Person: Mares Secretariat (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.


Venue: Ghent University (Coordinator)
Ghent, Belgium

Marine Biology Section
Krijgslaan 281, Campus Sterre - S8
B-9000 Ghent


Open from
1 Sep 2014 to 1 Dec 2014


Study Requirements
A prerequisite for admission is that applicants have a Master degree in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography, Marine Sciences, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, or other equivalent degrees with a minimum of 60 credits for the Master degree. In fact a minimum requirement of 240 ECTS combining the B.Sc. and M.Sc. (or equivalent to 4 years of graduate studies with thesis) is eligible. This includes Bachelor of Honor degrees, as long as these included a thesis and took 4 years of full time study. 

Language Requirements
A recent (max 3 years old) proof of knowledge of the English language is also a requirement (CEF-level –C1). The following proofs of English will be allowed*:

  • A recent TOEFL Certificate: minimum score: 570 points (Paper) or 87 points (Internet)
  • A recent IELTS Certificate: minimum score: 6.5
  • A recent First Certificate in English of the University of Cambridge
  • A recent Certificate of a University Language Centre testifying that the student masters the necessary knowledge of English to function academically (specify CEF-level) - C1 level
  • A recent proof that the candidate followed at least 2 Years of higher education taught in English

*If you are unable to provide the test result or certificate for one of the above language tests due to time constraints (if the test itself takes place after the application deadline), then you need to upload a proof of registration for one of these tests instead. You then need to send us the test results by email as soon as you receive them. Note that you will have to prove that you meet the language requirements before we can definitively award a fellowship.

Application Procedure:

The Call for Applications for Doctoral Candidates for MARES' Fifth and last call has been opened on September 1st 2014.

The PhD Subject Catalogue of this Edition (nr.5 / 2014) contains thirteen phd subjects that applicants can apply for. Applicants have to indicate a first choice subject and may indicate a second choice subject. We expect to have around 6 scholarschips available. The exact number of available scholarships will be communciated by the funding organisation EACEA around January 2015.

Applications will be open for 3 months until December 1st 2014. 

Applicants have to register an account, fill in an online application form , upload the required documents and submit the form before the deadline in December. It is not necessary to do everything in one session. The application form will save all inputted information, so it's possible to continue completing this form at a later date. For the application you will need to find at least two referees who are willing to write a recommendation letter (MARES template information). You will receive a confirmation email that we have received your application. This email will contain the application form as a pdf-attachment.

Grant Opportunities:

Each year MARES will receive 8-10 EM PhD grants. Usually 9 grants are available and these are split as follows:

An Erasmus Mundus grant can be broken down into several components: Employment Budget, Bench Fee Budget and Travel Fee / Installation Costs Budget

MARES aims to attract PhD candidates without a MARES EMJD grant but with other grants (for example a national PhD grant). For this type of candidate only a yearly contribution to the MARES fund has to be paid (240 euro), they also need to fulfill the MARES requirements in order to receive a MARES PhD. These types of candidates will have equal rights in the MARES network and thus will have access to the same facilities as MARES candidates with an Erasmus Mundus grant. A major advantage of participating in MARES without a MARES PhD grant is that these candidates will have access to dedicated MARES trainings at much lower costs than other (non-MARES) candidates.


All doctoral research projects in the MARES doctoral programme include a mandatory collaboration between at least two partners. Therefore, institutional mobility and placements of minimum 6 months is already foreseen at the start of the doctoral period by involving at least two MARES partners per doctoral subject. Each doctoral proejct involves at least two higher education institutions, which enables the awarding of a Joint Doctoral Degree.


Academic level: PhD
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