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Aquatic ecosystems are under continued and growing threats such as habitat loss, invasive species and pollution. To conserve, manage and provide responsible and sustainable solutions to these threats requires a fundamental understanding of the structural and functional elements of ecosystems, from shallow lakes to the open oceans.

Our Aquatic Ecology by Research programme provides comprehensive practical training by application in the laboratory or field, rather than by formal tuition in the lecture theatre. This format places special emphasis on developing practical skills and the transferal of science to hands-on conservation and applied research. QMUL is home to a leading research group in aquatic ecology, which means you will receive expert supervision and have access to advanced research facilities.

You will take three taught modules and conduct a nine-month extended project, an integral part of this programme as it will help you develop the skills required to progress onto further academic or applied research. During the research project you will be co-supervised by either established PhD students or potential employer organisations. You will also be encouraged to publish your project work.

Research and teaching 

You will have access to analytical research facilities within our Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment, developed from an investment of £1.8 million in analytical equipment and specialist laboratory facilities. You will also have access to the Freshwater Biological Association’s River Laboratory on the River Frome in Dorset, through our River Communities research group, and to mesocosm and temperature controlled facilities at QMUL. 

By choosing to study at a Russell Group university you will have access to excellent teaching and top class research. You can find out more about our research interests and view recent publications on the School of Biological and Chemical Science's Aquatic Ecology Research group page.

Facilities and events

Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment (CATE)

CATE at QMUL is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and the School of Geography.

CATE builds on existing research strengths in areas of environmental research such as biogeochemistry, freshwater and marine ecology, terrestrial ecology and conservation. These facilities are used either in the formal teaching of this programme or are available for individual research projects.


If you have any questions about the content or structure, contact the programme director Dr Christophe Eizaguirre

Taught modules

Your taught modules take place in blocks of two weeks of full-time teaching (normally 9am-5pm), followed by weeklong study breaks for independent learning and coursework. This structure allows for an intensive learning experience, giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their subject. 

  • Ecosystems Structure and Functioning
  • Quantitative Techniques for Surveying and Monitoring in Ecology
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics: 

Research Project and Dissertation

In addition to three taught modules, you will conduct a nine month extended project aligned to one of the following active research areas:

  • Impacts of invasive species, particularly crayfish or amphipods, on UK waters
  • Climate change and sentinel species / ecosystems
  • Methane and its role in food webs
  • Biogeochemical cycling and up / downwelling in lotic ecosystems
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
  • Physiology of aquatic organisms in a changing climate
  • Conservation genetics for species management

Student handbook

Find out more about this programme in the Aquatic Ecology student handbook.

Learning and teaching

Our Aquatic Ecology by Research programme combines traditional lectures and practicals with a diverse range of learning formats. Group work, student presentations and open discussion/debate are an integral part of the programme, giving you the chance to develop communication and team-working skills. We take pride in cultivating a close-knit and friendly working relationship between academics and students on this programme. You will benefit from small group teaching, normally no more than 15 students in each seminar, allowing for a more intensive learning experience and increased interaction.

Teaching and assessment

You will take three taught modules in semester A; these will be assessed through a mixture of reports, essays, practicals, presentations and multiple choice questions. These three modules make up 25% of your final grade.

Your taught modules take place in blocks of two weeks of full-time teaching (normally 9am-5pm), followed by weeklong study breaks for independent learning and coursework. Most modules are taught through lectures during the morning, with practicals, seminars, discussion groups and workshops taking place in the afternoon. You will also have opportunities for fieldwork, including a weeklong field course, which usually takes place in Cumbria.

You will spend the rest of the year on your research project and dissertation, which is 75% of the final grade. This typically involves field sampling, experimentation, laboratory work and data analysis.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £10,100

Part time £5,050

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £20,850

Part time £10,425

Graduate employment

The range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities, has enabled students to enter careers such as:

  • NERC funded CASE PhD studentship - Environment Agency
  • Internship - NERC
  • Curator - Natural History Museum
  • Community Learning and Engagement Officer - London Wildlife Trust
  • Aquatic Ecologist field post - Consultancy firm Ahern Ecology
  • Fisheries Ecologist - Brown May Marine
  • Research Chemist - Xention
  • Research Scientist - Phosphonics
  • Ecotoxicologist - ADAS UK Ltd
  • Consultant - HR Wallingford
  • Technical Officer - Environment Agency
  • Research Intern - Zoological Society of London

Visit the MSc Aquatic Ecology by Research page on the Queen Mary University of London website for more details!




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