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Masters Degrees (Coastal And Marine Tourism)

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Galway’s identity is intertwined with the coast. The Discipline of Geography, with strong links with The Ryan Institute which identifies marine and coastal processes as a Priority Research Area, is delighted to offer a brand new structured postgraduate programme in NUIG. Read more


Galway’s identity is intertwined with the coast. The Discipline of Geography, with strong links with The Ryan Institute which identifies marine and coastal processes as a Priority Research Area, is delighted to offer a brand new structured postgraduate programme in NUIG. This programme is designed to train skilled personnel, who can advise on, organise and regulate an informed development of coastal and marine resources and activities in Ireland, the European Union and worldwide. Ireland’s coastal and marine environments are a vital natural resource. This value is reflected in a broad range of current EU directives and strategies aimed at taking full advantage of these resources while also enhancing our natural environments. The Irish Government has recently launched an integrated plan (Our Ocean Wealth), seeking to put into operation these EU policies for our coastal and marine resources. While rapid growth is expected as these new plans come into action, they are not without risks. A recent report by the Marine Institute outlined some challenges: a need to develop our environmental understanding; the challenge posed by climate change; protecting biodiversity; enhancing monitoring capability; greater integration of science, management and advice. The key to achieving the true sustainable development of our coastal and marine resources may be through new educational programmes. On the one hand, facilitating existing managers and planners through targeted learning in this expanding field, while on the other hand, training our current students to be the future decision-makers in these coastal and marine environments.

This is a highly opportune time for an MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments: physical processes, policy and practice. This MSc programme, theoretically informed and with a strong field-based and applied focus, is offered in direct response to newly emerging discourses on the long term health of coastal and marine environments. It seeks to challenge and facilitate students to engage with but go beyond established scientific conceptual and theoretical perspectives, engage new ways of understanding the complexities of our evolving physical coastal and marine environments, and develop critical insights that can support policy and practice in sustaining these increasingly vulnerable environments.


The MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments is a full-time postgraduate course delivered over 3 semesters (12 months). The programme was devised by a team of academics from the Discipline of Geography who have been involved in priority EU-funded and US National Science Foundation (NSF) research on contemporary and future challenges facing coastal and marine areas, including the ANCORIM (Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management) (INTERREG) and MARNET (Marine Atlantic Regions Network) (FP7) projects, as well as local and national-level projects on the same. The team is engaged in a broad range of scientific investigation of the physical environment, with an excellent international publication record. Students will become active members of ongoing research programmes and will learn the research and publication process.

There is a strong focus on the formulation of coastal and marine policies and strategies; the identity and role of stakeholders; the nature and impact of local, national and European governance; and the historic and contemporary approaches used to understand the physical processes that control the characteristics of our coast. Development of skills is supported by a significant focus on practical and field-based learning, including short field courses in Ireland and work placements.

It is directed at graduates from Geography, Natural Sciences and other related disciplines in the social and natural sciences, and at professionals in the field who are interested in furthering their knowledge of coastal and marine environments. Students will be required to conduct socially relevant research that addresses the roles of agencies and policy structures in coastal and marine environments.


With coastal and marine resources increasingly promoted as being central to revitalising the Irish economy, the coming years will require well-informed and educated leaders who understand the complexities of the interaction between the economy and health of these environments. This, added to the broader national and European focus on the coastal zone and the urgent need for more Higher Education courses which recognise the renewed importance of sustainability of coastal and marine activities and the multifunctional facets of these areas, should present graduates of this course with opportunities across various fields ( coastal and marine science, environmental consultancy, local/regional/state management agencies, government and policy institute research, politics and governance of the environment, sustainable energy, research laboratories and programmes, teaching, heritage, tourism, etc.). The work placement programme will aid in professional development and offer links with potential employers, giving our students realistic and desirable career opportunities, and built-in work experience upon graduation.

PhD Entry: the MSc Programme can be used as a platform for potential doctoral PhD candidates for research programmes in Geography and our partners in NUIG, especially the Ryan Institute, and abroad. This will encourage the growth and visibility, at home and abroad, of the coastal and marine priority theme research clusters in NUIG.

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This MSc programme is delivered by the International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) at our Orkney Campus. It has been designed to promote an integrated, participatory approach to nurture and strengthen quantitative skills in science and environmental graduates using locally relevant issues. Read more

Integrative Marine Data Skills

This MSc programme is delivered by the International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) at our Orkney Campus. It has been designed to promote an integrated, participatory approach to nurture and strengthen quantitative skills in science and environmental graduates using locally relevant issues. It will build a broad understanding of marine ecosystems, ecosystem services and associated management issues. Teaching is strongly reinforced with laboratory, fieldwork and project work, with emphasis placed on simulating real work situations. Strong links with industry partners, policy-makers and regulators ensure relevance within this sector. It will produce students who are quantitatively competent and literate, capable of interpreting and communicating findings, with work-ready skills (field and industry) to facilitate employment in a competitive marketplace where demand for data-savvy students is high.

Course content

Semester 1:

Advanced Research Skills 1 – Data Collecting and Handling (core)
Data is increasingly important in today’s society with huge quantities generated by the maritime sector to address a range of environmental and economically important issues. However, a specific set of skills are required to handle, extract, manipulate, analyse and communicate these data sets. Students will collect data across three platforms: shoreline, oceanic and remote, providing work-ready technical, laboratory and field skills. This course will build quantitative confidence and competency, providing graduates with the skills essential to understanding, responding to, and mitigating today’s environmental challenges.

Advanced Research Skills 2 – Statistical and Numerical Techniques (core)
The ability to problem-solve, think critically and apply mathematics has been severely eroded across education sectors, with this deficit being transferred to the working environment. Skills in numeracy, data mining, data management and modelling have been highlighted as being in demand. This course will utilise environmentally relevant, local long-term data sets collected in Advanced Research Skills 1 to strengthen skills in data analysis using a range of methods. This course is not targeting students with a strong numerical or modelling background, instead it aims to build confidence with analytical techniques and provide a broad, yet solid depth of knowledge.

Oceanography and Marine Ecology (core)
This course will give an understanding of the science of waves and tides, and how this affects efforts to exploit energy from these resources and to develop other maritime industries. The challenges and impacts associated with engineering operations in the marine environment are examined. Marine ecosystems and ecosystems services are also studied and how these are impacted by human activities.

Introduction to Marine Planning (core)
Introduces students to the emerging policy and practice of marine planning (global and regional). It examines political, jurisdictional and rights issues in the introduction of economic activities into the marine commons (the ‘Blue Growth Agenda’). The framework of marine legislation is explained and methods of conflict resolution are explored. A series of international case studies will identify the various tools and techniques being used around the world to manage human activity and balance conservation interests with demands for economic growth.

Semester 2:

Case Study and Project Design (core)
This course will facilitate the interpretation and communication of data and promote teamwork skills and engagement with a broad range of end-users, fostering responsive management skills. It is an essential follow-on core component from Advanced Research Skills 1 and 2 in Semester 1 to further consolidate the quantitative learning experience and promote synergies with local industry, stake-holders and communities. The course will capitalise on the strong networks already in place at ICIT with staff, local industry and community groups.

GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists (optional)
Geographic Information System mapping is a tool which is now widely used by both developers and regulators in the management and development of marine resources. Within the context of Marine Spatial Planning the use of GIS has rapidly become the standard means of collating and analysing spatial information regarding resource use. This course will explain the principles and provide hands-on experience of applying state of the art mapping software in project based case studies.

Environmental Policy and Risk (optional)
This course explores the legal and policy context of marine governance. You will gain an understanding of international law, particularly the Law of the Sea, property rights and how these relate to different energy resources. The course examines regulatory issues at the international, European and UK level, as well as risk assessment and management in the context of marine developments. A practical EIA exercise is undertaken.

Practical Skills in Marine Surveying (optional)
Students entering employment in marine conservation or marine resource management are often required to plan or manage surveys of the marine environment in the role of either client or contractor. Diving is often the most effective method for conducting surveys to monitor or map marine biota. This course will provide students with the requisite knowledge for designing and managing such projects utilising scientific diving techniques.

Marine Environmental Monitoring (optional)
This course will provide an understanding of: the scientific background of natural processes in estuarine and coastal environments as a necessary prerequisite for understanding monitoring and management; the fundamentals of the design and applications of environmental monitoring programmes; the role of impact assessment in resource management, conservation and pollution control and legal framework supporting this process; and the importance of the scientific dimension underpinning estuarine and coastal management.

Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management Field Course (Malaysia) (optional)
(Additional fee for flights and subsistence)
Students will experience different techniques used for surveying and monitoring coral reefs, to provide an understanding of the sampling and other issues which influence choice of method. It will provide students with an impression of the environmental pressures affecting reef habitats as a result of climate change, tourism related development, and of the range of management measures which may be introduced to promote sustainable use of reef resources. It will familiarise students with the main forms of fish, coral and invertebrates which characterise reefs. In addition, the course gives the chance to examine other marine habitats that are often closely inter-related with reefs: e.g. sea-grass beds.

More information:


Fees and Scholarships


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The MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management (MAM) is a two year programme, which comprises of 120 credits (ECTS). Students learn to manage living resources in all types of water bodies, natural or man-made. Read more

MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management

The MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management (MAM) is a two year programme, which comprises of 120 credits (ECTS). Students learn to manage living resources in all types of water bodies, natural or man-made. The programme provides understanding of the biology and ecology of aquatic organisms and water bodies.

Programme summary

Oceans, seas, estuaries and lakes are major providers of ecosystem goods and services such as food, tourism and coastal protection. In many cases, exploitation levels have bypassed the carrying capacity of these ecosystems, leading to devastating effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. To preserve marine biodiversity and its ecosystem functions, innovative and sustainable solutions are necessary. Therefore, there is a need for young professionals who know how to take an integrative approach to marine ecosystems management.

The MAM programme starts with courses that give a common basis on aquaculture and marine resource management. In these courses, you will learn the principles of marine ecology and the governance of marine systems, the biology and ecology of aquatic organisms and the role of science in public policy processes. Within the Aquaculture and Marine Resource master programme, you can choose one of three specialisations: Aquaculture, Marine resources and ecology, Marine Governance. Graduates are skilled in techniques and methods for analysing and solving biological environmental problems in aquatic systems by looking at the organisms and the communities including ecological, management and social aspects.


All students acquire a thorough understanding of processes governing life in any type of water body. In addition, students can choose to put more emphasis on any of the following aspects: ecology, natural resource management, capture fisheries or aquaculture. Depending on the specialisation the topics differ.

This specialisation deals with the culture of numerous aquatic organisms (such as finfish, shrimp, shellfish, ornamental fish, corrals, sponges and algae) in a wide range of culture environments (from sea enclosures to semiextensive ponds and high-tech recirculation systems). Production methods should be sustainable, guarantee the health and wellbeing of the culture organisms, be economically viable, socially accepted, and result in safe and healthy products. This can only be achieved through knowledge and skills in aquatic production ecology based on knowledge of biological, physical and chemical integrity of water bodies and insight in economic and social driving factors.

Marine Resources and Ecology
This specialisation focuses on the sensitivity of marine communities in relation to human interventions, including climate change, fisheries and habitat destruction. You will learn to address limiting factors in order to be able to contribute to an improved biodiversity, environmental quality and sustainability of marine ecosystems. To do so, it requires insight into the ecological processes that form the basis for marine food chains, the interaction between species and the functioning of the different ecosystems.

Marine Governance
The main focus of this specialisation lies on the sustainable governance and economics of marine and coastal systems. The goals and strategies of commercial enterprises, non-governmental and governmental organisations and international institutions are analysed, and their effects are evaluated in relation to both organisations and ecosystems involved.

Your future career

The interest in sustainable management of the seas and coasts is booming, while there are only few professionals available with an integrated and specialised training in this field. Numerous types of specialists are needed, including technical specialists, researchers, consultants and project leaders in commercial, governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Alumna Pascalle Jacobs.
"I had already graduated as a terrestrial ecologist before I started the Master Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management. I started the MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management mainly because I saw a lot of potential in marine research. I did my thesis at IMARES and after my graduation they gave me the opportunity to work there as a PhD on a research project. In my research, I look at if and to what extent big amounts of young mussels attached to ropes or nets (mussel seed collectors) change the environment. These young mussels eat a lot so one of my research questions is if this grazing affects the amount of food available for other animals."

Related programmes:
MSc Animal Sciences
MSc Biology
MSc Environmental Sciences
MSc Forest and Nature Conservation.

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This multidisciplinary programme is designed to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills required to take up the exciting job opportunities arising from the recent adoption of marine spatial planning and related developments in marine conservation and the maritime industries. Read more
This multidisciplinary programme is designed to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills required to take up the exciting job opportunities arising from the recent adoption of marine spatial planning and related developments in marine conservation and the maritime industries.

Marine spatial planning is now developing as a key component of marine management. It aims to deliver a more organised sharing of sea space between demands as diverse as nature conservation, tourism, ports and shipping, renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture and mineral extraction. It seeks to integrate social, economic and environmental uses of the coast and sea.

Marine planning is being taken up by coastal nations around the world, including Australia, China, the United States of America, South Africa and several European nations, such as Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Some nations, such as the UK, now have statutory provisions for planning their coastal and marine waters and bodies and procedures for preparing marine plans and implementing them. All European Union coastal states are now required to introduce marine planning, following a Directive passed in 2014.

So there is a growing demand for professionals who understand marine science and management on the one hand, and spatial planning, as has long been practised on land, on the other. This postgraduate programme bridges the gap between these two disciplines, and equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to embark on a career within marine management.
This programme leads to the award of a Master of Science degree. It is a full-time, one-year course, though it is also possible to study part-time over two years, combining studies with other responsibilities. This is the first programme of its kind to be accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute as a specialist Masters course. Gaining the degree is a step towards professional membership of the Institute.

Here is a selection of the topics recently chosen by the MSc students for their dissertations:
• Implementation of Marine Spatial Planning in Portugal
• Global food security: finding space for aquaculture
• Stakeholder Participation in Marine Planning in the UK
• Success factors for offshore wind energy
• China’s system of Marine Functional Zoning
• Assessing the value of sand dune systems in the North West of England
• Stakeholder involvement in the Irish Sea Conservation Zone project
• Reducing the impact of offshore wind farms on seabirds
• Mitigating the impacts of tidal barrages

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