Study programme

IMBRSea covers a wide, yet consistent, range of subjects within the marine sciences and biological resources. With an emphasis on marine biological and ecological processes, the programme links biology of marine organisms and environmental studies with subjects in marine policy and planning.

The subjects are covered through Thematic Modules in Specialization Tracks to prepare the next generation of scientists who need to understand the marine ecosystem functioning and conservation of biodiversity to work in biological resources exploitation and management. IMBRSea offers a unique combination of Courses, Professional Practices, Annual Symposia, Joint Schools, Thesis subjects in an integrated programme to learn how to develop blue biotechnologies in a sustainable way.


Frequently asked questions: 

Until when can I change my Specialization Track?

During the selection process you indicate your preferred specialization track within IMBRSea (choice 1 and 2). You will receive an e-mail from the coordination office confirming your track. In specific cases and with a good motivation, you can still change this track until September 1st, taking into account the availability in the tracks. After this date, you can no longer make changes to the specialisation track since the track is mentioned on the final diploma and diploma supplement.
The specialization track defines your pathway throughout the programme in terms of mobility and course selections. You basically remain in the same 'coulored band' during the entire programme.


Do all universities offers the same transferable skills?

No. The transferable skills depends on your first semester university choice. Each university offers different courses options for the students to take as their extra course (3 ECTS), you should check each university to choose the best option for you. 

Is the summer school only 10 days and we have the rest of the summer off?

Yes. The summer school usually takes place in August for 10 days. IMBRSea students have summer vacations for the whole month of July and depending on their third semester and summer school options, few more days between the summer school and the beggining of classes. 

Are there limits as to how many students can be selected for a certain track? If conservation is the most popular track will there be more competition for those spots?

Yes, there are limits on the number of students for each track. They will be chosen based on their application ranking and then allocated on their first or second track options.  

Will you be able to switch tracks if a track is full?

No. Only if there are still available spots at the university from the track you want to change your second semester to.  For example, you were in the conservation track going to Ghent University on the second semester and you want to change to the management track, and go for University of Oviedo. If there are still spots open on the management track and for Oviedo then, only then, you can change your track before the deadline on October. 

Are students given separate or one Diploma having all the names of the universities after the program?

After graduating, the students will have one Diploma with all the 10 Universities from the Joint Degree and the name of the track you chose. 

Are students taught different languages apart from the official language of instruction?

No. All courses are taught in English, no matter in each Country the University is located at. The same goes for the Summer School.  

Common Elements (Compulsary)

Fundamentals module (30 ECTS)

Partners involved in the Fundamentals Module of semester 1 are:
Ghent University (Belgium) - UGent
Université de Bretagne Occidentale (France) - UBO
University of the Algarve (Portugal) - UAlg
University of Oviedo (Spain) - UniOvi

Students select 1 university and spend the entire first semester there.

The first semester, regardless of your study location, offers the following courses:

  • Marine policy and governance (3 ECTS)
  • Marine genomics (3 ECTS)
  • Quantitative methods in marine science (6 ECTS)
  • Oceanography (6 ECTS)
  • Marine ecology (6 ECTS)
  • Marine GIS and spatial planning (3 ECTS)
  • Transferable skills course (3 ECTS)

 More information about these courses can be found here.


Professional Practice (12 ECTS)

During the second half of the second semester, students undertake a Professional practice at one of the partners (main or associated). The Professional Practice (12 ECTS) should not exceed 2 months and should contain a workload of at least 240 hours. 

 More information about the Professional Practice can be found here.

Joint School (6 ECTS)

The Joint School is an integrated activity, organized and delivered by teachers representing each Partner university. This event lasts for 10 days and takes place in August between Year 1 and Year 2.

 More information about the Joint School is available here.

Thesis Preparation (6 ECTS)

The thesis preparation module at the end of the third semester is offered in the format of an online course entitled "Introduction to Research Practice: project management, data management and scientific communication" and is tailored via a series of assignments to the individual student situation and their Thesis project. Within this module students acquire project management, data management, research proposal writing and scientific communication skills.

 More information about this course is available here.

Thesis (30 ECTS)

Thesis work is an integral part of the IMBRSea Master programme and is credited for 30 ECTS. All students undertake their thesis work during the fourth semester, at one of the IMBRSea partners or members of the consortium. During their thesis work students will focus on a specific research topic for a given amount of time. Students work independently albeit under supervision of a thesis supervisor and promoter. Through the thesis work, students are able to apply the knowledge and techniques they gained during the courses in the three previous semesters.

 More information about thesis work can be found here.

Annual Symposium

The Annual Symposium, organized every year at the end of June, is a programme-wide activity that both first and second year students attend. This is, amongst other activities, the forum for presentation and evaluation of the Master Thesis research (thesis defense).
First year students present their professional practice experiences. The Symposium also offers first year students the opportunity to see which choices are offered for their Thesis research.
Associate Partners and other non-HEI actors are encouraged to participate and take the opportunity to hold a professional (job) fair to attract students and future employees. At the symposium short training workshops offered by these Associate partners will be organized.
The Symposium is concluded by the official Graduation Ceremony for the second year students.

Specialization tracks (One to choose)

Marine Food Production

Learning outcomes

  1. The graduated student understands biological principles of culturing marine organisms for food or products; 
  2. The graduated student understands vectors of disease/parasites and principles of managing marine animal health in culture; 
  3. The graduated student understands challenges and societal conflicts arising from increased production of food and products from the marine environment

Courses and mobility

  • Year 1 partners involved: GMIT (Applied genetics and animal welfare in production) & UPV/EHU (Animal Health)
  • Year 2 partners involved: UAlg (Biotechnology) & UiB (Food production)
  •  Overview of the courses: more info

Employment sectors

Graduates with this Specialization Track will be competitive applicants and attractive to employers for jobs in the aquaculture sector as employee or self-employed in production, managerial, sales or technical roles; in the seafood processing and technology sector; in national or regional planning offices (evaluation of site licenses); in animal feed/pharmaceutical and aquamedicine companies; for further veterinary training; with NGOs for food security, food safety and authenticity. 

Management of Living Marine Resources

Learning outcomes

  1. The graduated student understands and is able to apply quantitative methods of population assessment, including survey methods, data collection, analysis, and assessment models; 
  2. The graduated student understands the ecological principles governing variability in marine resource availability and its sustainable exploitation; 
  3. The graduated student is able to identify the major stakeholders and the conflicts arising from exploitation of marine resources in Europe.

Courses and mobility

  • Year 1 partners involved: UniOvi (Living resources) & UAlg (Fisheries)
  • Year 2 partners involved: GMIT (Ecosystem based fisheries management), UiB (Food production) & UiB (Operational marine science)
  •  Overview of the courses: more info

Employment sectors

Graduates with this Specialization Track will be competitive applicants and attractive to employers for jobs in fisheries research (as scientist or technician) at national and international fisheries institutes; regional fisheries management boards; advising bodies to commercial fishing companies and associations; consultancy companies (e.g. development of fisheries management plans); environmental impact assessment; climate change effects, as database manager; fisheries monitoring; conservation; fisheries advisory bodies (at NGO or government ministry level);  regional planning offices (coastal zone planning); mineral and oil exploitation companies; NGOs for food security, food safety and labeling, and authenticity; lobbying.

Applied Marine Ecology and Conservation

Learning outcomes

  1. The graduated student understands the principles of ecological interactions and how they shape the marine communities and their response to environmental pressures; 
  2. The graduated student is able to evaluate and assess anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems, services and resources, and to identify mitigation and remediation measures that can be taken on short and long terms; 
  3. The graduated student is able to implement restoration and conservation initiatives, together with the design and analysis of environmental monitoring schemes. 

Courses and mobility

  • Year 1 partners involved: UGent (Experimental Marine Ecology) & UNIVPM (Marine Conservation)
  • Year 2 partners involved: GMIT (Tools for Marine Conservation) & UPMC (Impact assessment, mitigation and Conservation) & UiB (Operational Marine Science)
  •  Overview of the courses: more info

Employment sectors

Graduates with this Specialization Track will be competitive applicants and attractive to employers for jobs in compliance/observer activities for offshore oil and gas companies, marine construction, dredging and pipe/cable laying; marine renewable energy sectors; NGOs; lobbying; marine spatial management/planning.


Marine Environment Health

Learning outcomes

  1. The graduated student knows the sources and response pathways of pollutant exposure for marine organisms; 
  2. The graduated student can design and implement testing programmes with appropriate methodology for monitoring marine ecosystem health within the regulatory frameworks; 
  3. The graduated student is able to apply molecular biology and biotechnology techniques to problems in ecotoxicology, water quality and to find remediation solutions. 

Courses and mobility

  • Year 1 partners involved: UNIVPM (Ecotoxicology) & UPV/EHU (Animal health)
  • Year 2 partners involved: UAlg (Biotechnology) & UPMC (Impact assessment, mitigation and conservation)
  •  Overview of the courses: more info

Employment sectors

Graduates with this Specialization Track will be competitive applicants and attractive to employers for jobs in environmental biotechnology; environmental monitoring; aquatic (eco)toxicology; environmental research; environmental consulting; environmental compliance inspections; governmental research 

Global Ocean Changes

Learning outcomes

  1. The graduated student understands basic physical, geochemical ocean system dynamics; 
  2. The graduated student is able to identify processes involved in local and regional changes for zones that are particularly affected by climate change, such as the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean-Atlantic biogeographical transition zone; 
  3. The graduated student understands the main drivers affecting at all scales the marine biodiversity, and is able to tackle the key challenges to diminish threats on evolving marine species and communities. 

Courses and mobility

  • Year 1 partners involved: UPMC (Global Change and Functional Biodiversity) & UGent (Experimental Marine Ecology)
  • Year 2 partners involved: UiB (Operational Marine Science) & UPMC (Numerical methods for marine science)
  •  Overview of the courses: more info

Employment sectors

Graduates with this Specialization Track will be competitive applicants and attractive to employers for jobs in modelling in environmental consultancy companies and government research institutions; data management in research projects; scientific or technical roles in geophysics and climate related institutions (e.g. IOC, ICES).