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M.Sc. Aquatic biology and Fisheries

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 2 semesters
Entry level Bachelor
Cost No tuition fees, only an annual registration fee of ISK 75,000

The University of Iceland (UI) and the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) collaborate to offer a multidisciplinary two-year Master of Science (MS) program on aquatic biology and fisheries, emphasizing freshwater and marine ecology and fisheries in sub-Arctic environments. The program will be offered in 2020 as a specialisation within MS in Biology. 

The University of Iceland (UI) and the Marine Research Institute (MRI) collaborate to offer a multidisciplinary two-year Master of Science (MS) program on aquatic biology and fisheries, emphasizing freshwater and marine ecology and fisheries in sub-Arctic environments. The program combines classroom instruction and hands-on data analysis, field studies and thesis research. The teachers and supervisors are experts at MRI and University of Iceland, in conjunction with other Icelandic faculty and scientists.    Students completing the program can expect to graduate with the conceptual and practical skills necessary to tackle problems in aquatic science and fisheries.

The program is composed of a mix of obligatory and elective courses (60 ECTS) and thesis research (60 ECTS). The program course content and potential thesis projects are designed to take advantage of theoretical and practical  strengths of relevant instructors in fisheries biology and stock assessment, ecological modelling and statistics, limnology, marine ecology, oceanography, population genetics, environmental biology, marine mammals and aquatic birdlife. 

Main theme: 

  • Acuatic Science
  • Stock Assessment
  • Methods in Aquatic Biology
  • Fish Ecology
  • Biometry

Application procedure


The program will be offered in 2020 as a specialization within the MS degree in Biology. Therefore students who would like to apply for this program should apply for a MS degree in Biology and indicate in the statement of purpose that they are applying for the program Aquatic biology and Fisheries. 

Further information on application are here:

Learning outcomes

A two-year theoretical and practical programme of studies in biology at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, School of Engineering and Natural Sciences of the University of Iceland. The programme provides 120 ECTS units of credit and qualifies for the degree of magister scientiarum, MS. The entrance requirements are a BS degree in biology or a comparable qualification, usually completed with the marks 6.5 and higher.

The scope of the research project shall be 60 or 90 ECTS units and the coursework shall be 30 or 60 ECTS units. The MS degree provides access to third cycle doctorate studies.

Type of knowledge

The student possesses significant understanding of problems and subjects, based on the most recent information and research in the field of biology.
The student has acquired knowledge by attending courses and carrying out research in a specific area of biology.

Knowledge, ability and skills

On completion of the master's degree the student should have fulfilled the following criteria in addition to those fulfilled at the former level:

1. Knowledge and understanding
1.1. The student has acquired broader and deeper knowledge of a selected subject area within biology and has acquired systematic understanding of the most recent knowledge within that area and the research methods used.
1.2. The student has acquired deeper knowledge of the application of bioscience in his area of expertise.
1.3. The student has knowledge of the most common instruments of bioinformatics which are relevant to his field of study.
1.4. The student is able to use his knowledge and understanding in a professional manner within his field of expertise.
1.5. The student has acquired the ability to reason and substantiate his opinions about his research work and its relevance to basic knowledge in the field of study.
1.6. The student has acquired the ability to provide a written review of research relevant to his field of study.

2. Practical ability and skills
2.1. The student is able to design, organize, develop and execute experiments in the laboratory or outside in the field bearing in mind the technical, logistical, safety and ethical considerations.
2.2. The student is able to write a research plan or a grant application.
2.3. The student can assemble and develop appropriate biological methods for the purpose of answering research questions within his area of expertise.
2.4. The student is able to describe and explain the basis and limitations of the methods most commonly used in biological research.
2.5. The student is capable of efficiently using all common laboratory instruments used in biological research.
2.6. The student is able to work in a team with others and can contribute to the organization and execution of biological research.
2.7. The student has demonstrated his ability to keep efficient records of research data.
2.8. The student is able to use statistical methods as appropriate to his research.
2.9. The student has demonstrated an ability to provide a written overview of research concerning his field of research.
2.10. The student is able to write scientific abstracts, articles and reports

3. Theoretical skills
3.1. The student can in an independent and professional manner define a research topic, formulate research questions and hypotheses.
3.2. The student is able to formulate new hypotheses concerning his own research topic.
3.3. The student can independently assess which methods are appropriate as well as an approach to the analysis and investigation of problems.
3.4. The student is able to define and describe what is involved in well organized and executed experiments.
3.5. The student is able to make use of appropriate means of data handling, including the use of appropriate software.
3.6. The student has increased and deepened his understanding and acquired a wider view of his field of knowledge than that acquired at the previous level of study.

4. Communication skills and information literacy
4.1. The student is able to organize his work and time, meet reporting targets, work professionally with superiors, peers and assistants, organize his career, write his CV and is aware of his options as regards work and research. The student is able to read scientific articles, can keep proper laboratory record books and is able to write reports and essays.
4.2. The student demonstrates an ability to use information technology, including the use of databases, word processing, spreadsheets, statistical software and web page design and can make use of web-based and other sources of information.
4.3. The student can apply numerical and statistical analysis in the scrutinization of research data and can describe and explain the statistical methods relevant to biology.
4.4. The student is able to discuss science in a commercial context, understands the nature and function of small and medium sized enterprises, multidisciplinary research, ways of applying research licensing, the establishment of start-up companies, the assessment of market potential and the financing and areas of emphasis in research and development.
4.5. The student is able to initiate research and development projects within his field of expertise, to direct such projects and be responsible for the work of individuals and groups.

5. Learning skills
5.1. The student has acquired such learning skills and independence as to be able to undertake further studies, maintain his knowledge and add to it. He is ready to begin studies towards the doctorate at third cycle level.


  1. BS degree in biology or equivalent with minimum average grade of 6.5. In addition to the BS degree there may be some preliminary course requirements before starting the actual MS programme. Students in the MS. programme in marine biology are required to find a supervisor for the project and departmental coordinator/supervisor, before the end of the first semester of study.
  2. All international applicants, whose native language is not English, are required to provide results of the TOEFL (79) or IELTS (6.5) tests as evidence of English proficiency.
  3. Applicants are asked to submit a letter of motivation, 1 pages, where they should state the reasons they want to pursue graduate work, their academic goals and a suggestion or outline for a final paper.
  4. Letters of recommendation (2) should be submitted. These should be from faculty members or others who are familiar with your academic work and qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. Please ask your referees to send their letters of recommendation directly to the University of Iceland electronically by e-mail (PDF file as attachment) to  

ISCED Categories

Scientific modelling