SAMS news room

Scholarships announced for aquaculture Masters

ACES students on a field trip to Caledonian Oysters, Argyll, Scotland
ACES students on a field trip to Caledonian Oysters, Argyll, Scotland

The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), is looking to produce the aquaculture industry leaders of the future, as it invites applications for its world-class Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree course.

The specialised degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society-STAR (ACES-STAR) is part of the European Union’s ambitious Erasmus+ programme, making it one of Europe’s highest ranked academic programmes.

Through Erasmus+, the ACES-STAR programme has secured €5M over the next five years to fund 81 scholarships for international students.

The two-year course, which has been running since 2015 and has already trained 110 students from 38 countries worldwide, is looking to attract students with a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in one of the fields of environmental or social sciences and will be run in partnership with the universities of Crete, Greece and Nantes, France.  The course is also supported by 63 affiliated partners from across the world, which have offered to provide guest scholars and/or support internships or dissertation projects.

Three scholarships funded by Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) are also now available for ACES-STAR. The successful recipients of the SAIC scholarships must have Scottish residency and undertake their dissertation project with one of SAIC’s consortium partners.

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 has been an unforgettable experience. The knowledge shared between fellow classmates and also the experts in academia and industry has allowed me to continue to grow my networks and friendships. I’m so grateful for being accepted onto the ACES programme, as it helped me springboard my career in fish health.”

ACES Alumni student 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.

Prof 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 7 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