M.Sc. course

M.Sc. course

The Physical Oceanography Research Group (Department of Geosciences) offers a M.Sc. in Applied Oceanography, open to both local and foreign students.

Course Co-ordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago (aldo.drago@um.edu.mt)

AquaBioTech Group and Deltares are partners in the delivery of this course.

For more info on the course, to download the course flyer and learn about available scholarships click here.


Course appeal

The course is fitting to postgraduate students with a first degree in science, engineering, architecture or computing as well as to mid-career professionals aiming to supplement their background with a grounding in marine and maritime studies and willing to augment their academic portfolio with a new suite of capabilities. Certified proficiency in Computer Programming and Mathematics is an essential requisite.

The proposed Course is tailor-made for participants aspiring to join several streams of expertise and jobs, amongst others:

  • Management of coastal/marine resources,
  • Policy-making and governance,
  • Marine impact assessment and specialized analysis of environmental scenarios,
  • Marine-related industries, services and economic activities,
  • Marine-related operational activities such as in surveying, surveillance, search & rescue, marine transportation, etc.,
  • Environmental monitoring,
  • Research fields in oceanography,
  • Numerical modeling of the marine environment,
  • Data mining, management, quality control and archival,
  • Marine observations and forecasting.

Course intro

The course builds on the core principles of oceanography in coastal and open sea domains, with a focus on operational oceanography and the versatile and broad spectrum of disciplines and offshoot applications related to it. The main target of the course is to match the human resource needs in the evolving marine sector at local, European and global scales, providing professionals with wide ranging skills to exploit the outcomes of marine research and technology in favour of the competitiveness of the industry and service sectors.

The M.Sc. is also set against a background of the rising industrialisation of seas and oceans with increasing human impact (such as from renewable energy provision, aggregate extraction, fishing and leisure industries) and the extended quest for achieving sustainable development by protecting the marine ecosystem, minimising the impacts of climate change, natural hazards and anthropogenic influences, whilst maximising benefits to society.

The course is intended to train post-graduate students and professionals on state-of-the-art methodologies and tools to measure, understand and predict the marine environment, and derive sustained benefits from the sea. It is elaborated over a course programme spanning and merging the scientific, technical and applicative aspects of oceanography to offer students a wide-ranging integrated approach, linking science to management, putting technology at the service of users and stakeholders, and providing tools and training for more efficient service oriented applications.

Targeted areas of such applications include: environmental monitoring and surveillance, assessment and mitigation of risks, marine science-based policy development and strategic planning, climate change, sustainable resource exploitation, ocean governance, marine industries and service provision, and the overall empowerment of human resources to face current and emerging challenges in the marine domain.

While retaining the necessary scientific elements related to the acquisition and use of data and its transformation into knowledge, the course targets to put an emphasis on achievement of skills, and empower students to excel in performance on applications and operational practices.

Course partners

Deltares (Netherlands) and AquaBioTech Limitied (Malta) are two international marine research companies and service providers that have joined the Physical Oceanography Research Group to raise the international profile of the MSc in Applied Oceanography. They both offer their expertise in the academic delivery of the course, and host interested and selected students enrolled in the course to do their research dissertation with them as an internship. AquaBioTech Limited also offers a scholarship. Read more here.

Course highlights

  1. Scientific Baseline of Oceanography

    1. Fundamentals of ocean science
    2. Cover essential: physical, chemical, biological and geological aspects of the marine environment in coastal and open sea domains, and the interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans.
    3. Build upon the basics of oceanography, and extend the knowledge of the students through a mix of quantitative and descriptive methods to further their understanding at higher scientific levels. 
    4. Overall target is to provide students with a specialized foundation in oceanography, and to gear them for the rest of the course.
  2. Practical Baseline of Oceanography

    1. Hands-on skills and tools to visualise, process and analyse scientific data.
    2. Tutorials that will focus on oceanographic station data, marine meteorological data, 2D and 3D fields from numerical models and satellites, and GIS-compatible marine and coastal data.
    3. Students will come to grips with state-of-the-art techniques and methodologies in applied oceanography.
  3. Essentials of Operational Oceanography

    1. Overview of operational oceanography in its key elements as an operational chain.
    2. The main target is to present the major components of an ocean/coastal observing system comprising the data acquisition systems, the key analytical and statistical techniques for data interpretation, and the data presentation and product generation component to extract geo-spatial added-value information from the data.
  4. Data Resources in Operational Oceanography

    1. Deals with main streams of activity in operational oceanography: data generation, quality control and management; data communication and dissemination systems; numerical modelling of the marine environment.
    2. Assessing the quality of real-time and delayed mode oceanographic data, including its quality certification, management, labelling, archival, cataloguing and posting for dissemination through specialised discovery, viewing and downloading services.
  5. Oceanography Boot Camp

    1. Dedicated intense field-work activity intended to train students to make measurements of key parameters at sea in a real case oceanographic survey targeted to study a coastal scale marine domain.
    2. The activity includes planning and execution, analysis and interpretation of data, and presentation (written and verbal) of the results.
    3. Training will cover all the stages required for a successful survey including the preparation, calibration and configuration of marine equipment, survey planning, deployment of sensors and data retrieval, as well as data processing, analysis and use in a dedicated scientific assessment.
  6. Ocean Governance

    1. The focus is on the holistic approach to the governance of the oceans, embracing legal, ethical, environmental and economic aspects.
    2. Conduction of maritime affairs in line with the Lisbon Strategy, targeting the Millennium Development Goals, following the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and building upon the model expressed by the European integrated maritime policy.
    3. Support of operational oceanography to ocean governance.
    4. Builds upon the IOI Malta course on ocean governance that has been delivered annualy for the last 9 years.
  7. Applications and Services deriving from Operational Oceanography

    1. This  is the culmination of the course. An applicative study unit intended to enable students to: (i)understand and participate in marine-related downstream services production, and (ii) use and adapt existing marine information services in specific applications, assessments, studies, decision making and problem solving activities.
    2. Focus on the value of data and information services delivered by Operational Oceanography to national and regional stakeholders and responsible entities, how this enables to improve planning, policy implementation, monitoring, surveillance and emergency response in the marine environmental contexts, and contributing to the general economic growth in European seas and coastal areas.
    3. Show advanced technologies available to improve the performance of operational oceanography, and to better adapt and transform data into knowledge and information services useful to a wide range of users.

Delivery and duration

The Master in Applied Oceanography is delivered over 3 semesters as a full-time day course. It comprises two semesters covering seven taught Study-Units and a third semester dedicated for research leading to a dissertation. One of the study-units consists of an Oceanography Boot Camp involving field work and data analysis.

The course is delivered with the participation of an international faculty including high profile experts in operational oceanography.

Want to know more?
Get to know about the admission requirements, fees, the programme of studies and more.