Oceans & Lakes

The interuniversity Master in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management (known as: Oceans & Lakes) offers a multidisciplinary approach to marine and lacustrine systems. It integrates physical, chemical, geological, ecological and societal aspects and encourages students to also consider conservational and sustainability features. Students are provided with 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 in Flanders (Belgium) - the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Universiteit Antwerpen and Universiteit Gent combine their expertise. Many other experts and institutions are also involved in on this programme, adding even more knowhow.

Visit the Oceans & Lakes website for more information.

Insight into the complexity of life

This 2-year master’s programme offers a unique combination of study in the marine and lacustrine field. It provides insight into the 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. It comprises management and policy as well as commercial aspects of aquatic ecosystems and law. Since admission is open to holders of 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 from different backgrounds.

Interested in other aspects of biology? Take a look at the Master of Science in Biology and its graduation options!

Marianna Pinzone, alumna

I would do it again in a heartbeat!

"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!"


Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences

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International team

The programme attracts an international group of students and professors. The range of professional, educational and cultural backgrounds of the students and professors illustrates the global context of future marine and lacustrine research and management. Case studies are held on local and national policies and management practices in the students’ and professors’ countries of origin, allowing for different perspectives on the topic.

Research and fieldwork combined

The master provides an insight into the diversity and complexity of life and processes in oceans, seas, lakes and estuaries, through a balanced mix of formal teaching and practical exercises. Practical skills are developed during laboratory and field training sessions, individual and group assignments, report presentations and discussion seminars. In addition, field work is an essential part of the programme, with visits to marine research centres, excursions and internship. The master’s thesis consists of an individual research project, and aims for high research standards, which are field - or laboratory - based and include governance or policy analyses.

Brussels, Ghent & Antwerp: the best of three worlds

The biology departments 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 take part in various international research networks.

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Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes describe the intended knowledge and understanding, skills and attitudes that you must master after completing your studies.

Do you want to know more about the specific learning outcomes of this programme? Click here for more information.

After graduation

A master degree opens doors in many different branches and sectors. You will be able to work in the private sector, (non-) governmental organisations, or continue your academic career as a PhD researcher. Not sure what your next step should be? The VUB helps you with your first steps on the job market.

Your ticket to a fascinating career

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.

The world needs you!

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.



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Hajaniaina Andrianavalonarivo Ratsimbazafy, PhD student

”The Master in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management has given me the opportunity to be successful in life and has given 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 on the Oceans&Lakes programme.”

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A few months abroad?

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, don't hesitate to contact the faculty exchange coordinator.

Admission criteria

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. 


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 or on www.oceansandlakes.be.

For more details on admission requirements and application

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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 www.vliruos.be.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel participates in many other scholarship programmes offerring grants to all levels of study (from Bachelor to Academic Staff), in various regions, both for short and longer stays. For more specific and detailed information, consult the VUB Scholarships page or the websites of the Belgian Development Agency or Study in Flanders.