2019-2020 / Master

Oceanography (120 ECTS)

120 credits

Programme content


Observing and understanding ocean life. Studying marine flora and fauna. Studying undersea reliefs and their composition. Designing robots that operate under water, etc. The study of oceans is essential for managing the planet and is of interest to all scientific disciplines.

Oceanography is multidisciplinary: oceanographers study biology, chemistry, physics, geology and geography. Their fields of study include offshore oil deposits, health, coastal environments, fisheries resource management and the modelling of oceans.

The ocean, which covers almost 3/4 of the planet, is an essential component of the climate system since it contributes, just like the wind, to redistributing heat and, in particular, transporting energy from tropical regions to the poles. Ocean currents (such as the Gulf Stream) provide about half of all the heat transported from the equator to the poles, that is to say, a proportion that is equal to that of the atmosphere. Ocean currents are to a large extent generated by the winds, and the ocean plays a role in regulating certain climate disturbances, since it constitutes a powerful thermal stabiliser.

A reservoir of life and food, a means of communication and a great purveyor of mineral resources, the ocean is the most immense and richest part of the globe.


All students in the Faculty of Science are given the opportunity to study introductory oceanography from the 2nd block of the Bachelor's, via the optional course "Study of Oceans and Coastal Management" This course offers the opportunity to spend a week at the Undersea and Oceanographic Research Station (STAtion de REcherche Sous-marines et Océanographiques STARESO) (in Calvi, Corsica). The objective? To examine the concepts needed to answer the questions "What is oceanography?" and "Why choose a Master's in this field?"

During this week of discovery, students are made aware of the interdisciplinarity inherent in oceanography and have an initial opportunity to encounter the reality in the field (techniques for water sampling, cartography, measurements and observations in real time, etc.), learn about the role of scientists in protecting and managing the coast and discover the diversity of marine mammals, the problem of jellyfish, sound pollution and waste...


The advanced Master's in Oceanography provides an essential overview to those who wish to specialise in the field of ocean sciences.

Entry requirements

The advanced Master's in Oceanography is directly accessible to those with a Bachelor of Science (biology, geography, geology, chemistry, physics, etc.) and in Applied Science.

New: Students who have earned an academic Master's (120 credits, all specialisms and streams included) can gain direct entry to the 2nd block of Oceanography with an adapted programme.


Handling marine environments

Initially, students take theoretical courses in biology, physics, chemistry, geology and geography. These courses provide an introduction to the oceans and confer the specific foundations needed for their study. The subjects taught are directly linked to the marine environment (deep seas, coastal zones, etc.). Some of the concepts used, such as marine ecology, the law of the sea, fishing and marine meteorology are also addressed.

Integrated internship

In addition to traditional practical work done in the laboratory (work on computer, demonstrations, seminars, aquarium visits, study trip on board oceanographic boats, etc.), they participate in a 2-week integrated internship at STARESO in Corsica.

Guided by oceanographers, they perform all stages associated with studying the marine environment (water sampling, measuring, assays, data processing, etc.).


With a solid foundation, students can now specialise in research or turn directly to the professional arena by selecting several cutting-edge fields of specialisation in oceanography.

5 options:

  • Biogeochemistry and climate change,
  • Marine ecology and biodiversity,
  • Exploitation of marine resources, anthropic pressures,
  • Modelling and operational oceanography,
  • Data collection and processing.

Moreover, they will have the opportunity to complete a one-month internship at a company or laboratory in order to meet researchers and professionals in the field.

Students also spend around half a year preparing their Final Dissertation, in the course of which they carry out research in a laboratory, a research station or a company.

In order to enable our future graduates to perfect their English and meet students and future oceanographers from other countries, some classes are taught in English jointly with students selected by the Erasmus Mundus MER programme.

Erasmus Mundus MER Marine Environment and Resources

The Master's in MER Science is a European Master's programme offered jointly with the Faculty of Science. Taught in collaboration with several universities (University of Southampton, University of the Basque Country, University of Bordeaux and the University of Liège), this programme aims to train multidisciplinary graduates starting with cross-disciplinary research profiles. It aims to attract highly qualified and motivated students from around the world to a very high level integrated European Master of Science.

In order to meet the demands of a career in the field of oceanography sciences, this Master's enables students to develop the following skills and abilities:

  • integrated management of coastal zones,
  • environmental protection in estuaries and seas,
  • adaptation to global climate change,
  • diagnosis of the marine ecosystem,
  • conservation of biodiversity and natural heritage.

Added value

Pourquoi à l'université de Liège ?

L'Université de Liège est la seule université en Belgique francophone à dispenser cette formation complète multidisciplinaire.

  • L'océanographie étudie les milieux marins, les mers, les océans, les organismes animaux et végétaux qui y vivent. Elle permet d'analyser la qualité et l'utilisation de ces ressources et évalue les réserves de ressources exploitables.
  • Cette formation est basée sur une expérience en océanographie développée à Liège depuis plus de 70 ans.

La renommée de l'ULiège dans ce domaine est mondiale.

  • Notre Université est la seule en Belgique francophone à posséder une Station de Recherches Sous-Marines et Océanographiques (STARESO-CORSE), accessible à ses étudiants et ses chercheurs de manière prioritaire.

  • Afin de permettre à nos futurs diplômés de se perfectionner en anglais, de rencontrer des étudiants, futurs océanographes d'autres pays, certains cours sont dispensés en anglais en commun avec les étudiants sélectionnés par le programme ERASMUS MUNDUS MER.

Learning outcomes

At the end of their studies, graduates with a Master's in Oceanography will have acquired the following specific skills:

  • Planning and conducting scientific research in a marine environment, including the use of bibliographical resources, experimentation, statistical analysis, interpretation and discussion of results in an environmental context, notably via the knowledge and analysis of different orders of magnitude.
  • Mastering the concepts and vocabulary of all oceanographic disciplines and being able to share them in different contexts (teaching, research, conferences and international projects);
  • Analysing the biotic and abiotic components of a marine environment, using in-depth knowledge of oceanography and specialised knowledge gained while working on the Final Dissertation.
  • Handling sensors and measuring devices and preparing and analysing samples used in oceanography.

At the end of the programme, graduates with a Master's in Oceanography will also be able to:

  • understand how a system works through data observation, collection, analysis and modelling;
  • design and use a mathematical model.

Like all university graduates, young oceanographers will also be able to:

  • engage in autonomous learning with self-assessment and reflectivity;
  • adopt a working method that allows for the acquisition of new knowledge and adaptation to new situations;
  • acquire the ability to summarise in addition to good oral and written scientific communication skills;
  • analyse scientific data and literature critically;
  • separate the essential elements of a scientific problem from the incidental elements;
  • work in a team, define and develop their professional identity.