MSc Applied Aquatic Biology

General information

The world’s aquatic ecosystems and environment are increasingly under threat. Pollution, overfishing, global climate change and many other impacts have highlighted the importance for us to understand their function at all levels, from the molecular to the global. This is what this course sets out to do and thanks to the close proximity to many types of temperate marine habitats and internationally protected conservation areas, this master offers the perfect location for investigation. On this course you can:

  • Research at our internationally-renowned Institute of Marine Sciences or carry out microbiological work at the University’s Field Centre for Environmental Technology at Petersfield Sewage Works
  • Rear coldwater species for restocking programmes or trial fish food at Sparsholt College’s National Aquatics Training Centre
  • Study abroad through Erasmus or various other conservation and research schemes

You will cover a variety of aspects in ecosystem function and management, aquaculture, ecotoxicology and pollution, and advanced laboratory and field skills. A large amount of your time will also be spent on the research project that will enable you to apply the skills and knowledge you have gained. Hands-on laboratory-based work teamed with field trips means that practical learning underpins the theory learned in lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You’ll also find that some aspects of your course may be taught online using the virtual learning environment. The units that you will study are:

Ecosystem Function and Management: This unit examines ecosystem processes and their management in the context of exploitation and anthropogenic impacts. You will cover topics including ecosystem services, nutrient cycling, anthropogenic impact (e.g. climate change, fisheries, environment and alien species), and coastal zone and resource management.

Ecotoxicology and Pollution: This provides an introduction to environmental toxicology using model and non-model organisms.

Aquaculture: This unit focuses on the principles of aquaculture production, global production and diversity of aquaculture species. It is taught by academic staff and staff from the National Aquatics Training Centre at Sparsholt College. Areas covered include larval culture, diseases and pathology, feeding and growth, reproductive manipulation, and business and management.

Research Toolkit: This covers a range of key professional skills for research methods (communication skills, ethics and report writing), advanced field skills (boat sampling, taxonomy, and marine and freshwater sampling methods), advanced laboratory skills (genomics, monitoring and pollution monitoring methods) and remote sensing technology (such as GIS).

Research Project: Your final project allows you to select from a range of marine and freshwater projects provided by staff within the School, government research laboratories, NGOs and private research companies. During the project you will write literature reviews and develop skills in data analysis and presentation.

Learning outcome:

What opportunities might it lead to? You’ll be taught by leading international researchers and the course has been designed with strong input from outside agencies including environmental consultancies, a range of government bodies and industry. This ensures your training links directly to UK and international employment opportunities.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • consultancy work
  • government-based research
  • conservation
  • teaching
  • further study

Career prospects. Once you have completed this course, you will be particularly well placed to enter a wide range of interesting and rewarding careers in the UK and abroad. We will ensure you have all the relevant knowledge and skills that employers require, giving you the opportunity to either pursue a scientific career, enter the teaching profession, or further study should you want to continue your research.

Benefits of post graduate study. Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.


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

0511 - Biology", "0512 - Toxicology", "0521 - Ecology", "0831 - Aquaculture


Venue: University of Portsmouth
Portsmouth, United Kingdom

School of Biological Sciences
University House, Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP



UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: 2017/18 entry: full time: £6,400, part time: £3,200 p/a*

International students: 2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400, part time: £7,200 p/a*

*Fees are subject to annual increase

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure. Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment. 

For optional programmes of fieldwork costs will be in the region of £800 - £1,000.


Degrr Requirements
A 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Professional experience and other qualifications may be taken into consideration for applicants not meeting this requirement.

Language Requirements
English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Application Procedure:

Apply directly using the online application form. Your application will be received by the University's Admissions Team before being transferred to individual departments for consideration and processing. It is also possible to submit a hard copy application. Documents required for application:

  • Completed application form
  • Personal Statement / Statement of Purpose
  • Proof of degree and grades (officially certified and translated copies)
  • Proof of English language level (e.g. IELTS Certificate)
  • Two references on official headed paper, one of which should be an academic reference.

Grant Opportunities:

The University website offers several opportunities for postgraduate funding and international funding

Full time course is eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan
Part time course is eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan


Academic level: Master


You will be assessed using a range of methods from exams to coursework and presentations, with great opportunities to present your final-year projects to industry and researchers from other departments and organisations.

Qualification: Master of Science

UK Credits
Occupations (not validated):
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