Scholarships announced for Europe’s top-rated aquaculture master’s degree

The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and Erasmus Mundus are funding scholarships on the 2023-2025 Aquaculture, Environment and Society (ACES) Joint Master Degree programme.

Students on this two-year programme study at three centres of European excellence in aquaculture research: Nantes Université, University of Crete and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a partner of UHI. Graduates are taught by top experts in the field and gain practical and theoretical skills needed for a successful career in aquaculture through industry-led research programmes, internships and fieldwork.

The three successful recipients of the SAIC scholarship must have Scottish residency and undertake their dissertation project with one of SAIC’s consortium partners. The Erasmus Mundus scholarships are limited to three students per nationality. To date, the programme has recruited students from over 45 countries, giving graduates the opportunity to build their international networks.

ACES field trip

ACES leader Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (furthest right) takes students on a field trip to Caledonian Oysters, Argyll, during semester one at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), partner of UHI

The ACES (Aquaculture, Environment and Society) programme particularly prepares graduates for work in senior management roles in a wide range of settings, including fish farms, environmental and regulatory organisations, international trade organisations, and also non-governmental organisations.

Former students have gained PhD positions, had papers published, become lecturers in universities and marine institutes, or are working in industry.

ACES 2020 alumni Aaliyah Malla, who now works in fish health, said of her time on the course: “Being able to research and explore shellfish and finfish aquaculture in various countries in Europe through the ACES programme [was] an unforgettable experience. The knowledge shared between fellow classmates and also the experts in academia and industry allowed me to continue to grow my networks and friendships. I’m so grateful for being accepted onto the ACES+ programme, as it helped springboard my career in fish health.”

ACES Alumni student and former SAIC Scholar James Hedges: “After completing the ACES Masters, I was hired to work for a feed company and now visit salmon farms all over Scotland. I conduct fish quality checks, feed trials, and provide fish diet advice to farm managers. ACES was a life changing experience, allowing me to see and experience different countries and cultures while making many friends and gain a first-class aquaculture qualification. The subjects covering Atlantic salmon and feed were crucial in obtaining my current role. I would not have the opportunities I have now without this incredible Masters.”

Successful applicants spend their first semester at SAMS in Oban, before going on to study finfish aquaculture in Greece and shellfish aquaculture in France. The students will then complete research projects with a host partner of their choice and their findings will be presented at the annual student conference.

Dr Elizabeth Cottier-Cook, SAMS Programme Leader for ACES-STAR, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be receiving further funding for 81 scholarships from ERASMUS+. The ACES Masters programme has grown from strength to strength over the last seven years and this award is testament to the dedication of all the partners and our industry collaborators in delivering a world-class degree. It is also a fantastic opportunity for any student wishing to become a leader in the aquaculture industry and we look forward to receiving applications now for the course beginning in September 2023."

To find out more and to apply for September 2023 intake visit or email

Find out more about SAIC's MSc funding