Oceans & Lakes

The interuniversity Master of Science 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 two-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!"

Development and Sustainability

Oceans & Lakes is recognised as an ICP (International Course Programme). This means that there are targeted and well-developed trajectories possible to university development cooperation with South partners: the application of science and management skills to global and local challenges, aligning with the UN's sustainable development goals.

I'm a scientist

Find out what it means to be an Oceans & Lakes student.

More about next academic year?

Check out the latest updates

Educational Quality

Here at VUB we put great care and effort in the quality of our education. Transparency is key. Information on the educational quality of each programme is public, e.g. describing its strengths and actions.

Public info on the quality of the programme

VUB in the media

For all VUB news and recent developments, check our newspage vubtoday!

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.

Classes take place in all three cities of the participating universities (Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent). Full-time attendance and active participation in lectures and practical exercises, field courses and excursions is required. Transport costs for travel by public transport between the three universities can be reimbursed.

Georgina Collins, alumna

"I began my science career in Durban, South Africa where I studied a BSc in Environmental Science with a focus in marine sciences. I wished to study a master's degree in Europe to improve my educational portfolio and also for personal growth. A major factor for me in choosing this programme was the fact that it runs jointly at three well known universities in Belgium. The programme also offers a variety of courses in different marine fields, with the opportunity for different field work experiences. The international flair of the programme helped me to develop skills to work in harmony with people from different cultures and backgrounds, a key skill needed today in a constantly changing world. Oceans and Lakes also allowed me to make lasting international connections, meet leaders in different fields and opened up doors which I would otherwise not have known exist. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Environmental Science at Brunel University in London. This PhD is helping me to further my education in ecotoxicology and aquatic pollution, a subject I found a passion for when studying the courses from the Environmental Impact and Remediation Major in the Oceans and Lakes programme."

Expedition to Antarctica

Watch this video that our student Louise Delhaye made about her participation to the expedition to Antarctica on the BAP Carrasco (research vessel). Louise did an assessment of the heavy metal pollution in the Bransfield Strait.

Find us on Facebook!


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 programme aims to provide you with 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.



More info
Hajaniaina Andrianavalonarivo Ratsimbazafy, PhD student

”The Master of Science 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.”

Want to know more about our alumni?

More info

Follow the VUB

On LinkedIn


International experiences give incredible opportunities and memories that last forever. They can also seriously improve your academic performance and your career prospects. That is why we want our students to go out into the world and become true world citizens. At VUB, the world is your oyster!

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. 

Go abroad?


Where will you go?


Admission criteria

This programme is open to holders of a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Bachelor in Biology
  • Bachelor in Biochemistry
  • Bachelor in Biotechnology
  • Bachelor in Chemistry
  • Bachelor in Geology
  • Bachelor in Geography
  • Bachelor in Geomatics
  • Bachelor in Bioengineering Sciences
  • Bachelor in Environmental Sciences

For other Bachelors in science, applied science and life sciences, admission will be evaluated by the Oceans and Lakes Steering Committee based on academic records and skills. Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree of minimum 3 years with good overall scores (at least upper second class or equivalent) from a university or recognised equivalent.

Language requirements
Students who wish to register for a VUB programme with English as the language of instruction, need to provide a proof of sufficient knowledge of English.

Online application

Students who don't have a Flemish bachelor degree are required to submit an online application. The application procedure consists out of three steps:

  1. Apply online
    Fill out your personal information and upload your documents.
  2. Screening of your application
    The Admissions Office and the Faculty will check if you are eligible.
  3. Result via e-mail
    If your application is accepted, we will send you a Letter of Acceptance.

All information on the admission procedure, requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on www.oceansandlakes.be.

Application deadlines

There are two separate deadlines to submit an application if you are applying with a foreign degree, depending on whether or not you require a visa to enter Belgium. If you wish to apply for a VLIR-UOS scholarship there is a separate deadline.

You can find all information on www.oceansandlakes.be

For more details on admission requirements and application


VLIR-UOS 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-UOS 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-UOS 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.

Practical information

Not sure how to get started? Wondering about housing?


For academic year 2020-2021 this programme as specific COVID-19 measures and flexibility.


Prepare your stay



Depending on your situation, you can either arrange your own accommodation off campus, or apply for a VUB room on campus.




Tuition fee

All information about our tuition fees in one place.




How much money do I need?

A general idea of how much money you'll need for housing, food and other living costs in Belgium.


Convinced to come and study at the VUB?

Start your application now!

Online Info Session

Do you want to learn more about the VUB and this programme? Are you looking for an opportunity to ask all your questions? Join the online infosession and find out all there is to know!

First Online Info Session: 9 december 2021 (2pm CET)

We will start this online info session with a general introduction to VUB and the application process. After that, we will provide breakout rooms per programme for a more in depth presentation on the specifics of each programme.

Worried you might still have questions afterwards? We will leave plenty of time for a Q&A at the end as well.

Join the online info session

Register now!