Marine Environment Plus, Erasmus Mundus Master Degree (MER+)

Deadline: March 15, 2024




  • Belgium
  • France
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
Liège, Bordeaux, Bizkaia, Southampton


The European MSc in Marine EnviRonment (MER+ EMJMD) is a Joint European MSc programme focused on the marine environment and its protection, conservation and valorisation, conceived by four leading universities in the field of the marine environment (U Southampton, U Bordeaux, U Liège, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea) with the invaluable contribution of a global network of Associates.


Suitable for students with a good biological, geological and chemical background, the programme runs full-time over 24 months (120 ECTS) and consists of advanced courses (90 ECTS) and a Master Thesis, with a dissertation (30 ECTS).

Every student follows an individually-tailored study programme, by combining the different complementary disciplines that can be studied at each of the Partner universities:

  • Advanced Oceanography & Coastal Zone Management, in UBx
  • Advanced Oceanography & Coastal & Oceanic Environments, in Soton
  • Marine Environmental Monitoring & Ecosystem Health Protection, in EHU
  • Biodiversity Conservation & Ocean modelling, in ULiège

Throughout the coursework, students can make a selection between three alternative mobility pathways:

  • A1 (UBx-EHU-Soton)
  • A2 (UBx-EHU-ULiège)
  • B (Soton-EHU-ULiège)

Irrespective of the mobility pathway, all the students follow together Semester 2 in EHU.

Through any of the pathways, the students have the opportunity to travel, from molecular biology to remote sensing issues and from short-term phenomena (e.g. tides and intertidal variability) to long-term issues (e.g. ocean acidification); thus achieving a translational science background, with a topical bias towards each partner’s expertise.

The MSc Thesis research is undertaken during Semester 4 (30 ECTS) and consists of a 5-6 month research under the supervision of a PhD holder. Upon completion of the MSc Thesis the student should demonstrate sufficiency for research in order to undertake the realisation of the PhD Thesis work, or a professional activity as researcher. The thesis should be written up and defended in front of an International Examination Board following the consensus procedure approved by the MER Consortium JPB.

Socio-economic background

  • The marine realm is the largest component of the Earth’s system that stabilizes climate and support life on Earth and human well-being.
  • In 2002, the UN General Assembly prioritised actions to enhance protection of the worldwide marine environment and to improve the scientific understanding and assessment of marine and coastal ecosystems for management purposes.
  • In response to the increasing concerns in relation to the state of Europe’s oceans and seas the EU established the EU Habitats Directive (1992), the Water Framework Directive (2000) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2006). The need for such policies stems from the economic, social, and environmental importance of the seas in Europe; the vision is that of a Europe with a dynamic ocean economy in harmony with the marine environment supported by excellence in ocean science (COM(2005)504, Brussels 24-10-2005).
  • In 2016, the OECD recognised that growth prospects for the ocean economy and its potential for employment creation will be successful only if ocean health is duly preserved (The Ocean Economy in 2030, OECD 2016).
  • The OECD’s statement is aligned with the emerging “One Ocean – One Health” paradigm: all human, animal and environmental well-being is connected and by working to improve these areas together, a healthier world can be established; as such, research and conservation programmes should study marine life in the context of their environment and connections to humanity..
  • The global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment (IOC-UNESCO First World Ocean Assessment; 2016) showed that today’s oceans are seriously degraded. Moreover, since climate change, global population growth and multiple environmental stressors will have significant impacts over the coming decades, adaptation strategies and science-informed policy responses are urgently needed. Thus, the UN recently proclaimed the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 to support efforts to reverse the decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development.

Needs analysis

  • Companies, consultancies, agencies, and research institutions are committed to the compliance of international recommendations and conventions, together with European Directives and regulations. Pollution and climate change effects are a matter of increasing concern for governments, scientists and society.
  • Graduates with a balanced background between blue growth and green innovation are required. The growth of a number of marine industries over recent decades, such as offshore renewables and aquaculture, points to greater levels of exploitation and hence demand for trained staff who understand the marine environment. The Ocean Economy in 2030, (OECD, 2016) states that growth prospects for the ocean economy will be successful only if ocean health is duly preserved.
  • Companies, consultancies, agencies, and research institutions require high quality graduates, who can make a difference in the management of the marine environment and understand global assessment tools and integrated approaches regarding ocean-human health. The One Health concept approach benefits both the marine life and the human health by keeping the entire environment healthy; and decision-making tools and frameworks for conserving the human-ocean ecosystem health are being developed.
  • Overall, there is a need for marine scientists prepared to respond to the societal needs identified as pivotal challenges of the UN DOSSD 2021-2030:
    • A clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and removed
    • A healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are mapped and protected
    • A predictable ocean where society has the capacity to understand current/future ocean conditions
    • A safe ocean where people are protected from ocean hazards
    • A sustainably harvested ocean ensuring the provision of food supply
    • A transparent ocean with open access to data, information and technologies.


The programme is aimed at:

  • forming multidisciplinary graduates of transverse research profile in a fully integrated world class Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree
  • developing the student’s critical understanding of technical and scientific tools together with excellent management abilities and personal skills
  • achieving high academic standards, supported by recognised quality assurance (QA) procedures and by the implementation of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programm
  • promoting both staff exchange and student mobility under a balanced ECTS scheme
  • building a global MER Community

General objectives:

  • To achieve postgraduate education of academic excellence in the marine environment field, with solid conceptual foundations and innovative practical components on the basis of a translational science approach. For this purpose, students follow diverse disciplines with contents ranging from cellular and molecular biology to large-scale processes, or management; these are targeted to respond to societal demands identified in the UN DOSSD 2021-2030 and to support environmental protection policies.
  • To enhance EHEA internationalisation through (a) promoting its attractiveness for the best students worldwide, (b) providing EU students with opportunities to follow a part of the programme abroad, and (c) putting into practice joint procedures for monitoring progress in student mobility.
  • To improve the level of competences and skills of postgraduate students to study independently and manage a comprehensive project, by means of the research component of the programme; thus fostering leadership in marine environment research, consultancy and management.
  • To promote professionalism, entrepreneurship and employability of postgraduates, as well as the social projections of their careers in the field of the marine environment.
  • To promote intercultural understanding, critical thinking, tolerant attitudes, gender equality and civic values, in order to strengthen EU and global citizenship and lay the foundations for inclusive societies.

Main features

  • A high quality postgraduate education in marine environment on the basis of practical, analytical and numerical approaches.
  • A postgraduate degree with a strong research element, at internationally recognised training centres in marine science.
  • Advanced training in marine observation and exploration techniques, laboratory analyses and mathematical modelling.
  • Opportunities to develop key skills in marine data processing and analysis, with research experience gained through an individual advanced research project.
  • Direct experience of work on a sustained research project at the forefront of marine environment knowledge.
  • Opportunities to train alongside world class scientists in a research-led environment.
  • Vocational training for a professional career in industries related to the marine environment protection and management.
  • A sound and suitable qualification that would enable you to proceed to a more specialist higher degree at the PhD level.
  • Opportunities to develop critical and analytical problem-solving powers and the ability to communicate results to non-specialists.
  • Opportunities to develop a range of generic skills including: critical and reflective thinking, articulate communication and the skills of literacy and numeracy.
  • A high quality and intellectually stimulating experience of learning in supportive environments.

Student mobility

As a part of the construction of the EHEA, a pivotal goal of this EMJMD Programme is to promote international and European cultural exchange and interactions between students. Student mobility is designed with this objective.

Throughout the coursework, students can make a selection between (3) alternative mobility pathways: A1 (UBx-EHU-SOTON) is followed by those students who pursue a profile biased towards the physical environment; and A2 (UBx-EHU-ULiège) and B (SOTON-EHU-ULiège).

Through any of these pathways, the students have the opportunity to travel, from molecular biology to remote sensing issues and from short-term phenomena (e.g. tides and intertidal variability) to their long-term consequences (e.g. ocean acidification); thus achieving a translational science background.

The MSc Thesis research work can be entirely, or jointly, undertaken in SOTON, UPV/EHU, UBx and ULiège or in an associated institutions in Europe or overseas. All the MSc Theses are presented at Joint Viva Sessions at the 2nd week of September, in UPV/EHU, with members of all the Partner universities, staff from associates and external (invited) examiners.

  • Semester 1: Students start at UBx or SOTON for 30 ECTS providing competences for Fundamentals in Ocean Science and some additional competences or transferable skills specific for each of these two partners.
  • Semester 2: Students stay at UPV/EHU where they follow the compulsory RiMER course and may follow optional courses (Modules 2-6). Likewise, during this semester students meet stakeholders as a part of the RiMER course.
  • Semester 3: Students stay at Soton or ULiège for 30 ECTS acquiring competences and transferable skills specific for each of these two partners. During this semester, students may get academic recognition in ULiège of a Professional Placement (6 credits) previously undertaken within the MER Consortium framework.
  • Semester 4: The MSc Thesis research work can be entirely, or jointly, undertaken in SOTON, UPV/EHU, UBx and ULiège or in an associated institution in Europe or overseas. Organization of the thesis work is documented in detail in the Catalogue of Courses.

Each student therefore studies at least three universities and up to four universities and visits additional locations such as Stareso, for those following Semester 3 in ULiège, or Associates, during the realisation of the Professional Placement or research internships individually offered in summer after Semester 2.

Student mobility provides the students with the opportunity to interact with staff from different countries and environments; further to identify the area of research to which they are best suited.

The mobility and the integrated RiMER course provide the students with an almost complete overview of the research fields, relevant to marine environment and resources. Students improve also their skills in English and other languages (French, Spanish and Basque). MER students interact also with students enrolled in local Master courses at each institution, providing them with a supplementary perspective.


Opportunity is About


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate

The MER Consortium JPB is responsible for the coordination of admissions between Partner Universities and will follow the policy and procedures provided by the University Academic Board (UAB), for each Partner University. Each UAB is sovereign and will provide policy and procedures according to its own university rules.

  • The Programme is open to holders of a first cycle higher education degree (Bachelor degree, or equivalent) from Programme and Partner Country universities, in the field of biosciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, physical sciences and engineering. As such, the MER+ EMJMD acts as a conversion for aspiring marine environment scientists.
  • The relevance of the BSc degree (or equivalent) of the Applicant will be assessed. In cases of doubt regarding the quality of the issuing institution, external advisors will be consulted, in order to establish the status and quality of the institution concerned. In certain cases, the MER Consortium JPB can verify the student qualifications using Internet search networks, or through the collaboration of Associated Partners.
  • Proof of proficiency in English is essential. Proficiency in French, Spanish and/or Basque is optional.
  • Specific individual requirements will be established for each Applicant, according to his/her qualifications/prior learning, selected courses and expected academic and professional prospects. These specific requirements will be defined individually, by a system of mentor assignment to pre-registered Applicants.
  • Students will be selected based upon the quality of their degree, the level of the marks obtained in previous studies and the relevance of the competences and skill acquired during the BSc studies in relation to the MER+ EMJMD programme.
  • The Letter of Statement (where the Applicant explains his/her background, why MER+ EMJMD has been selected, and his/her prospects for the future) is a relevant criterion.
  • Relevance of work experience, motivation, and future career objectives, as well as any additional information provided in the mentor’s report, will also be taken into consideration in reaching a final decision.

Additionally, applicants will need to:

  1. Accept (it may be conditionally) the Revised Study Plan; this is proposed by the MER Consortium JPB Chair upon revision of the documents, information and Proposed Study Plan provided by the applicant, only to identify the applicant’s academic profile.
  2. Accept the Student Agreement Draft (SAD); this is a non-signed on-line full draft version of the future Draft Agreement which upon acceptance by the applicants is considered as a proof that they know the rules, conditions, commitments, rights and duties, as well as the administrative, academic and economical main questions dealing with the MER+ EMJMD programme they are willing to enrol if selected. The SAD is not a entailing document. The definitive legally binding Student Agreement will be signed by the selected students and the MER Consortium JPB Chair in two originals at the time of enrolment or later, and can be revised by common agreement.
  3. Indicate on the application whether they are applying for a scholarship, the nationality (including a copy of the passport as a proof, which is relevant in the case of those applicant with double/multiple nationality; only one must be selected), the residence country (including an official certificated proof), and a declaration of being in compliance with call-specific regulations (e.g., the 12-months Rule).

Offers will be made only to those Applicants that satisfy the requirements for entry, as set out above, for whom the supplemental information is deemed satisfactory according to the MER Consortium JPB. All members of the JPB have to agree to the admission of an Applicant, so that there is shared understanding and agreement on the calibre of applicants acceptable onto the Programme. If one member of the MER Consortium JPB does not wish to admit an Applicant, that Applicant will not be admitted to the Programme.


Deadline: March 15, 2024

Cost/funding for participants

An Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD), is a prestigious, integrated, international study programme, jointly delivered by an international consortium of higher education institutions.

EMJMDs award EU-funded scholarships to the best student candidates applying under annual selection rounds.

Study must take place in at least two of the Programme countries. Part of the studies can also take place in a Partner countries if there is a partner-country institution involved.

Erasmus+ Student Scholarships

Erasmus+ Student Scholarship covers participation costs (including tuition fees, insurance coverage, programme specific costs, etc.), travel and installation cost contribution, and monthly allowance.

Erasmus Mundus scholarships are intended for full-time studies only.

Students can apply for an EM scholarship even if they have not yet completed the studies required by the MER Consortium for the joint programme. They must however have completed the relevant degree before the enrolment deadline in the joint MER+ EMJMD programme.

Student benefitting from an Erasmus+ scholarship can benefit from other non-EU funded support while performing his/her Erasmus+ joint programme activities (e.g. student jobs or placement/internship allowances) if the national legislation of the host country permits it.

The basic and only rule in this case is that a Community funding beneficiary can never benefit from other Community financial support for the same activities for which he/she has already received funding.

+ More Info / Application Save Opportunity Un-save Opportunity

Search from 4849 opportunities in 164 countries

Internships, scholarships, student conferences and competitions.