Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management

Oceans and Lakes


The interuniversity Master’s programme in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management (colloquially: Oceans and Lakes) offers a multidisciplinary approach to marine and lacustrine systems. As such, it integrates physical, chemical, geological, ecological and societal aspects and encourages students to also consider conservational and sustainability features. The students are provided with a strong fundamental and applied knowledge and are prepared for an active role in the scientific research and management of marine and lacustrine systems.

In this joint programme on aquatic systems, three universities - the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the Universiteit Antwerpen (UA) and the Universiteit Gent (UGent) - are combining their expertise. Many other experts and institutions are also collaborating on this programme, adding even more knowledge and knowhow.


The programme attracts an international group of students and professors. The various professional, educational and cultural backgrounds of the students and professors demonstrate the global context of future marine and lacustrine research and management. Case studies are held on the local and national policies and management practices from the country of origin of the students and professors. This allows for different perspectives on the field of marine and lacustrine research and management.


The Biology deparments and diverse research groups of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp continuously develop and maintain innovative and internationally recognised research programmes. Most research programmes are international collaborations, and all three departments are participating in various international research networks.


This 2-year Master's programme offers a unique combination of study in the marine and lacustrine field. It provides insight into the diversity and complexity of life and processes in marine environments and lakes, and offers skills to study and manage them. This combination of disciplines makes the programme unique in Europe.

The programme adopts a multidisciplinary approach, integrating physical, chemical, geological, ecological and societal aspects, and encourages students to also consider aspects of conservation and sustainability. It comprises management and policy as well as commercial aspects of aquatic ecosystems and law. Since admission is allowed to various science-related Bachelor's degrees it may offer a unique opportunity to re-orientate your study career, and to broaden your horizon and meet people with different backgrounds.


This Master provides an insight into the diversity and complexity of life and processes in oceans, seas, lakes and estuaries. This is realised through a balanced mix of formal teaching and practical exercises. Practical skills are developed during lab and field training sessions, as well as individual and group assignments, report presentations and discussion seminars. In addition, fieldwork is an essential part of the programme, with visits to marine research centers, excursions, internships and so on. The Master's thesis consists of an individual research project, and aims at high research standards, which are field- or laboratory-based and include governance and policy analyses.

The course programme consists of 6 parts:

1. Core courses (39 ECTS)

2. In-depth courses (6 ECTS)

3. Broadening courses (6 ECTS)

4. Supporting courses (9 ECTS)

5. Choice of one major (30 ECTS):
Major 1: Biodiversity and Ecology
Major 2: Conservation Biology and Ecosystem Management
Major 3: Environmental Impact and Remediation
Major 4: Earth System Sciences

6. Master's Thesis (30 ECTS-credits)

The diversity of professional, disciplinary and cultural backgrounds of both students and lecturers ensures that the programme has a truly unique international character. For more information:


Classes will take place in all three cities of the participating universities (Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent). Full time attendance and an active participation in lectures and practical exercises, field courses and excursions is required. Transportation costs for travel by public transport between the tree universities can be reimbursed.

The departments at all three universities have a whole host of research projects and collaborations from which you can benefit. That means you might spend a few months abroad in the framework of your Master's thesis. You can also include a semester in another (European) country in your study programme or do an internship abroad. 

Within Europe, the programme has Erasmus+ mobility agreements with the following universities:

However, multiple possibilities also exist for stays outside of Europe.

For more information you can contact:

Exchange Coordinator Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management:

Coordinator Internationalisation - Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences:


Direct admission to the programme is granted to holders of a Bachelor in Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Chemistry, Geology, Geography and Geomatics, Bioengineering Sciences, Environmental Sciences.

For other Bachelors in science and applied science, applications will be assessed on the basis of the applicant's academic records and skills by the Oceans and Lakes Steering Committee.

Application-based admission

Admission is based upon acceptance of the application (proof of meeting the academic and language requirements, satisfactory background,...). All necessary information regarding the admission requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on the application page

Language requirements

In order to be admitted, students need to be proficient in English.

All necessary information regarding admission and language requirements and application forms can be found on

VLIR scholarships

VLIR-UOS funds and facilitates academic cooperation and exchange between higher education institutions in Flanders (Belgium) and those in developing countries, which aims at building capacity, knowledge and experience for a sustainable development.

The VLIR scholarship programme is particularly designed for people from developing countries who already have professional experience and occupy key or strategic positions at an institution in their native country. The opportunities for knowledge application and transfer after the Master student returns home are an important scholarship selection criterion. Other admission requirements refer to: age, education, motivation, language, gender, financial resources. Only students who are nationals from a country in the VLIR country list can apply for the VLIR-UOS scholarhsip. For more details on the application procedure and forms, please consult the VLIR-UOS website at

The Master's programme aims at providing its students with a strong fundamental and applied knowledge for scientific research and management of marine and lacustrine systems. It prepares you to play an active role in research, policy and management. This multidisciplinary Master’s diploma is your ticket to a fascinating professional world and can be the start of an international career. The integration of knowledge from across various disciplines is valuable, and you can contribute significantly in various jobs that are concerned with marine and lacustrine domains anywhere in the world.

Needed: people with expertise in the area of sustainable utilization and management of marine and lacustrine ecosystems

Due to the increasing pressure on the natural marine and lacustrine ecosystems, there is an ever-increasing need for highly educated and trained people to collaborate, from their multidisciplinary expertise, on the sustainable utilization and management of these ecosystems. This offers many challenging prospects for the future.

As a Master with expertise and experience in marine and lacustrine science and management, you are a scientist who has the underlying foundation and the necessary capacities to contribute to the most up-to-date forms of education, pure and applied research and policy-supporting assignments.

Career guidance? VUB Career Center is your one-stop shop!

The VUB alumni are known to be critical, independent and open-minded people. Even then your first steps on the job market are not always easy. The VUB Career Center gives you that extra push you need to make it work. They offer individual advice on career opportunities and can help you to pimp your cv, or prepare for your first job interview. And you don't have to wait until after graduation. Pay them a first visit during your studies to find out what the job market has to offer you.

Student life

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a dynamic and modern university with three campuses in the Brussels-Capital region. The main campus in Etterbeek offers high-quality education and research in a green and stimulating environment. With all fields of study being represented there, you can go above and beyond your own discipline. At our student restaurant, you will easily find an engineering student standing next to a future philosopher trying to decide together between a pasta meal or the vegetarian selection of the day.
Our students do not feel like they are just a number in a long row of unknown students. They have good relationships with their lecturers and assistants who have an open-door policy where students with questions are always welcome. Small group workshops are also used to ensure close interaction and hands-on experience. Educational assessment conducted annually indicates that our students are “satisfied” to “very satisfied” with 90% of their courses.

Lecture halls and laboratories are furnished with the most up-to-date equipment. Modern sports facilities, including gymnasiums, fitness rooms, tennis and squash courts, and a swimming pool, can be found on campus.

For more information on student life in Brussels and at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, go to

City life

Brussels is the capital of Europe, but it wasn't always. Actually, Victor Hugo was amongst the first pro-Europeans who redeemed Brussels' geographical location ideal to be the capital of Europe.

You will encounter a strange mix of skyscrapers and small curving streets, of bourgeois and bohémien, of oui and non. It will get you lost, but it does so with everyone.

Brussels gives you what you expect from a real city: high buildings, busy traffic, an underground art scene, eccentric old ladies dressed in drag, bars on every corner, and a lot of love from the locals. Brussels is officially a bilingual city, which means that everywhere you go you'll see signs in French and in Dutch (and very often in English too). However, you'll find that most people in Brussels are native French speakers rather than Dutch speakers.

Here, in our belle Bruxelles you'll discover one of the greatest cities in Europe...

Brussels is a challenging city which you can explore endlessly, but you have to take some time to discover its true face. For a push in the right direction, take a look at the following pages:

I began my science career in Durban, South Africa where I studied a BSc in Environmental Science with a focus in marine sciences. I wished to study a master's degree in Europe to improve my educational portfolio and also for personal growth. A major factor for me in choosing this programme was the fact that it runs jointly at three well known universities in Belgium. The programme also offers a variety of courses in different marine fields, with the opportunity for different field work experiences. The international flair of the programme helped me to develop skills to work in harmony with people from different cultures and backgrounds, a key skill needed today in a constantly changing world. Oceans and Lakes also allowed me to make lasting international connections, meet leaders in different fields and opened up doors which I would otherwise not have known exist. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Environmental Science at Brunel University in London. This PhD is helping me to further my education in ecotoxicology and aquatic pollution, a subject I found a passion for when studying the courses from the Environmental Impact and Remediation Major in the Oceans and Lakes programme.
Georgina Collins, alumna

I have been living close to the sea my entire life, and I always assumed that the sea would play a role in my work. After studying Nautical Sciences, I came across the MSc in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management. This programme allows me to study the biological, physiological and chemical process in oceans, seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes. I also learn how they should be protected and managed. The programme combines the expertise of researchers at three universities in Belgium. Theoretical seminars are alternated with practical lab work or excursions to local ecosystems or institutions. I would recommend this programme to everyone with an admiration for the oceans and what lives in it.
Rainer Renquet, alumnus



I come from Uganda and during my studies there focused on fisheries and aquaculture. That is when I gained a passion for aquatic sciences. I was inspired by the Limnology research that has been done on various freshwater lakes in Uganda, and some of the co-authors were Belgian scientists. I corresponded with them and finally decided to apply for the Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management. I am happy I did and would recommend this programme to everyone who wants to gain more knowledge on aquatic ecosystems and their sustainable management.
Angela Nankabirwa, alumna

I studied Biology in Rome with the aim of going abroad to study the marine environment and really touch with my hands what it means to work in this field. The Master in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management at VUB fitted perfectly with what I was looking for. Not only does it allow you to acquire a strong knowledge of both marine and freshwater ecosystems, but the international nature of the programme opens you up to different cultures and traditions and gives you the possibility to see the world through their eyes. Studying at VUB was a completely different academic experience than I was used to. It taught to me to cope with what is ‘new’ and ‘different’ and broadened my mind. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Marianna Pinzone, alumna

The Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management has given me the opportunity to be successful in life and gave me friendship worldwide. The courses and practicals have increased my knowledge significantly and enlarged my connection to the other scientists in my field of expertise. By following the Oceans & Lakes programme, I also had the opportunity to start a PhD. And since I am a pioneer in my field of expertise in my country I can look forward to a new career as lecturer at the Malagasy Marine Institute which will start as soon as I finish my PhD. Therefore I am right to say that the Malagasy students in my home country will also benefit from my training in the Oceans & Lakes programme.
Hajaniaina Andrianavalonarivo Ratsimbazafy, alumnus and PhD student

Having done terrestrial forestry for my Bachelor's degree, it would be difficult for someone else to comprehend how I fitted in Marine Sciences. My first day in class seemed adventurous, but I was able to appreciate better the uniqueness of the marine ecosystem. The programme has a wide scope and as such at least every single aspect important for me as a research scientist is adequately tackled. It has now become quite easy for me to interact with other scientists from the same line and share ideas. At higher levels of learning, one can then decide to specialise further depending on personal interests. I am now finishing my PhD and still apply most of the techniques gained during my Master's degree. The Belgian interuniversity programme has matured me into a confident young scientist with vast knowledge that would help sustainably manage our natural resources. This is particularly important for my country Kenya, that is still struggling to foster development amidst environmental degradation.
Judith Okello, alumna and PhD student

I chose to do the Oceans & Lakes programme, attracted by its multidisciplinary and hands-on approach. I finished with a broader scientific scope, a newly discovered passion for science policy and I fell in love with Belgium! Oceans & Lakes also opens up the job market in Belgium for you. With the knowledge, competences and skills gathered, and the experiences working with people from different cultural and scientific backgrounds, I was able to quickly adapt to the policy and management environment, but keeping a much respected scientific background, really much welcomed by my employer. As society is steadily increasing its appreciation towards the ocean and its interactions with land, the Oceans & Lakes programme already prepares you for becoming the ultimate 21st century scientist.
Ángel Muñiz Piniella, alumnus and science officer at European Marine Board