The ocean is of immense societal value. The importance of the ocean and knowledge on the ocean has been recognised by the United Nations with the proclamation of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
The ocean is vital for our economy, our health and well-being, for climate, food and biodiversity. However, due to increasing human-induced impact such as pollution and COemissions the ocean is rapidly changing. As part of the two-year Master’s programme Marine Sciences, you will learn how marine systems and processes operate naturally – and how they change through human intervention.

Contribute to the sustainable use of sea and ocean resources

Seas and oceans play an important role in our day-to-day lives, and over 65% of the world’s population lives or works in coastal areas. As COemissions lead to ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation, the impact on organisms, ocean chemistry, and currents on short to long timescales is uncertain. This affects ecosystems, as well as the economy and policymaking.

Multidisciplinary approach

Essentially, all outstanding issues in Marine Sciences are multidisciplinary. A broad, holistic research approach to this rapidly developing field is therefore necessary to identify risks, improve future scenarios, and to make the transition towards sustainable interactions between humans and the ocean.

If you are a science student with an educational background in biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science, the Marine Sciences programme offers multidisciplinary cutting-edge knowledge and research in the rapidly developing field of marine sciences. Students with a Bachelor's degree in another natural science or technical discipline and students from University Colleges who would like to contribute to the sustainable use of sea and ocean resources are also invited to apply.

    I’m even encouraged to integrate academic perspectives I hadn’t considered!

    Willemijn, student Marine Sciences

    Core areas of research

    The Marine Sciences Master’s programme will enable you to gain a broad understanding of marine systems, but also specialise in the physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes taking place in the ocean. You will investigate how the sea and the ocean functioned in the past, are functioning at present, and will function in the future. You will gain knowledge of Law and Policy related to the use and protection of the sea and the ocean

    You will explore issues such as energy and climate change, mining, pollution, the flow of traffic at sea, fisheries policies, and coastal protection. Examining the consequences of these themes – such as the fact that the disappearance of the Arctic’s summer ice cap will allow drilling for oil and gas – requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    The programme focuses on the following questions:

    • How do global warming and a changing ocean circulation impact ecosystem functioning?
    • How do changing ecosystems affect ocean chemistry?
    • How does a change in ocean chemistry affect biology?
    • How does legislation regulate the use and protection of the sea and the ocean?

    Why in Utrecht

    Studying Marine Sciences at Utrecht University has several advantages and benefits.

    • During the Master’s programme you become acquainted with how oceans law and policy govern academic and societal marine issues. Moreover, you get the chance to develop your own ideas regarding business opportunities related to the transition towards sustainable oceans.
    • You will have access to research performed under 17 marine sciences chairs - the most extensive in-house expertise in marine sciences of all Dutch universities.
    • As a student at Utrecht University, you will be part of leading research in our marine research groups, which participate in international marine programmes and projects. You get the opportunity to create an international network and become a member of our academic community of marine sciences students, staff members, and alumni.
    • You can choose from a wide variety of research topics, ranging from microscopic to global in scale, and concerning past, contemporary, and future dynamics of biotic and climate perturbations. You have the opportunity to approach your research in a truly integrated fashion with field research, laboratory experiments, remote sensing, and process-based numerical modelling.
    • You will receive excellent support from technical and electronic engineers and use state-of-the art laboratory facilities and field instrumentation at Utrecht University and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). You will also have access to excellent computational tools for Earth System and Climate modelling. Furthermore, you get access to seagoing facilities and fieldwork locations in coastal areas

    Key facts

    Earth Sciences (MSc)
    Language of instruction: 
    Mode of study: 
    Study duration: 
    2 years

    Dutch & EU/EEA students: 1 June

    Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April

    Tuition fees: 
    Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee, full-time) 2024-2025: € 2,530

    Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee) 2024-2025: € 23,765

    More information about fees
    Croho code: 
    Accredited by the NVAO
    Graduate school: 
    School of Geosciences
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