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Aquaculture MSc

Course Description

Aquaculture is defined as the production of aquatic plants and animals for human consumption. Under the pressure of the increasing world population on the one side and the stagnating or even declining fishery landings on the other side, aquaculture is considered as the only option to respond to the growing demand for healthy and sustainable seafood. Commercial aquaculture is a relatively young, diverse and dynamic bio-industry with growth figures exceeding any other traditional primary production sector.

Modern aquaculture is a strongly research-driven bio-industry requiring constant innovation and highly skilled entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is also a very diverse discipline with a wide range of involved species (plants, molluscs, crustaceans, fish), climates, environments (freshwater, brackishwater, marine), and exploitation modes (developing versus developed economies; subsistence versus business aquaculture).

The MSc in Aquaculture, established at Ghent University in 1991, offers a constantly actualised programme that balances a broad multidisciplinary approach and an in-depth research-based training. It prepares its students for fulfilling leading roles in scientific research, as well as in policy-making as aquaculture businesses.


The programme is conceived along a gradient of increasingly specialized and research-driven courses across the four semesters of the two years’ programme. In the first semester basic knowledge related to topics such as biology, microbiology, aquatic ecology, statistics is consolidated, broadened and deepened, in order to come to a homogeneous profile of the students.

The following semesters focus on specialized aquaculture-related topics underpinned by the expertise of the ARC (especially in terms of live food production and applications and larviculture microbiology). The programme is concluded with the fourth semester, which is available for thesis work. Thesis work is generally integrated within ongoing research projects, thus providing the student with a broader context of current research and applications.

Students advance their presentation techniques, communication skills and other generic skills through a variety of for teaching forms other than classical classroom teaching (e.g. practical exercises; case-study approaches, group work, lab work reporting).

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the programme, the graduated student:
-Possesses a broad knowledge at an advanced level in a number of basic disciplines (biology, ecology, pathology, genetics, zootechnology, nutrition, management, economics and statistics) relevant to aquaculture.
-Understands the processes ongoing in different forms and systems of aquatic production.
-Has acquired a broad knowledge on the production of aquatic organisms.
-Can identify and analyze the interactions between aquatic biological production systems and their environmental context, and can implement potential mitigating interventions.
-Can identify and analyze the interactions between aquatic biological production systems and their socio-economic context, and is familiar with the practicalities and organization of commercial ventures.
-Understands the ethical issues of animal production and experimentation.
-Can design and implement strategies for future development in aquaculture.
-Has acquired a scientific approach to formulate and test hypotheses to design research protocols, and to collect and analyze data.
-Is able to interact with peers, with various stakeholders in the aquaculture sector, and with a general public concerning personal research, thoughts, ideas, and research proposals, both written and orally.

Other admission requirements

The applicant must be proficient in the language of the course or training programme, i.e. English. The English language proficiency can be met by providing a certificate (validity of 5 years) of one of the following tests: (TOEFL/IELTS predictive tests and TOEIC will not be accepted):
-ACADEMIC IELTS 6,5 overall score with a min. of 6 for writing
-CEFR B2 Issued by a European university language centre
-ESOL CAMBRIDGE English CAE (Advanced)

Visit the Aquaculture MSc page on the University of Ghent website for more details!

Student Profiles

VLIRUOS - No. of awards TBC

MotivationIt is essential that the motivation and the career goals of the candidate focus on development relevant goals which are dealt within the master programme. Not only previously obtained academic results are key, but also the potential of the candidate to act as a 'change agent' in the home country after completion of the master programme. Professional experiencePreference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate a higher possibility of implementing and/or transferring the newly gained knowledge upon return to the home country. GenderThe selection committee will aim at a relative balance between the number of male and female candidates awarded a VLIR-UOS scholarship. Regional balanceThe selection committee will aim at a diversification of candidates from different countries and continents. The selection committee will also aim to award at least 50% of the available scholarships to candidates coming from Least Developed Countries or Other Low Income Countries (defined by OESO-DAC for ODA recipients), given that there are sufficient qualitative candidates from these countries. Social backgroundIn case of two equally qualified candidates, preference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate that they belong to a disadvantaged group or area within their country or an ethnic or social minority group. Previously awarded scholarshipsPreference will be given to candidates who have never received a scholarship to study in a developed country (bachelor or master).

Value of Scholarship(s)



a national and resident of one of the following at the time of application:
Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Niger
Asia: Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Palestinian Territories, Vietnam
Latin America: Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru
The maximum age is 35 years for an initial masters and 40 years for an advanced masters.
Priority to candidates who are employed in academic institutions, research institutes, governments, social economy or NGO’s, or aim a career in one of these sectors.
Rrelevant professional experience and a support letter confirming (re)integration in a professional context.

Application Procedure

Do respect the deadline of 1 March 2017 for scholarship application.If you have filled out the application form for admission to the IMRD-consortium, you could already indicate whether or not you wish to be taken into consideration for one of the scholarship programmes of IMRD (VLIR-UOS, Erasmus Mundus, Consortium scholarship).For applying for a VLIR-UOS scholarship: Master of Science in Aquaculture: First register and then fill out the application form Master of Science in Food Technology: First register and then fill out the application form

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have at least a Bachelor's degree of min. 3 year with good overall scores (at least a second class upper or equivalent). Applicants must be able to demonstrate through their transcripts basic science training in at least 5 out of 7 of the following fields: (i) Mathematics, including basic statistics; (ii) Physics; (iii) Chemistry; (iv) Biochemistry; (v) Biology; (vi) Microbiology; (vii) Engineering. Some background in aquaculture is recommended too. See course description for further admission details.

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Recipient: University of Ghent

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