Frequently asked questions


Our ability to deliver the ACES-STAR for 2022-2024 intake will be subject to the effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continuously review this issue and the ACES-STAR Consortium’s ability to proceed with delivery of the programme as planned. You will be aware that there continues to be many factors outside of our control including, but not restricted to, international travel. Please bear with us as we navigate the continuously changing situation. We will aim to post updates on this website whenever we can regarding any changes to the delivery of the course for the next academic year.

For the further information about our response to the COVID-19 outbreak click here: https://www.sams.ac.uk/about/covid-19/

How do I find accommodation?

Finding accommodation in a foreign country seems like a daunting task but the partner universities have dedicated support services offering information that will make your search for accommodation a lot easier. We offer advice about how to find somewhere to live and how the private rented sector works. In most cases, you will probably share a flat or house with local or other Erasmus Mundus students. We will do our best to help you find accommodation – by putting you in contact with landlords and lettings agents – but please note our teams of staff cannot always find accommodation on your behalf.

  • UHI-SAMS, Oban, Scotland, UK

Students starting Semester 1 in August generally rent accommodation in the private sector through a landlord or letting agent.  West Property is a good place to start in finding a room or a flat in the private rented sector.  Oban is a small town and it may not always be easy to find accommodation in the area you want to live in but most flats or rooms will be located within a three mile radius of our campus in Dunbeg. There is a regular bus service between Oban and Dunbeg operated by West Cast Motors. The following links will be of help to you in finding somewhere to live during your first semester:

  • University of Crete, Greece

The International Relations Office (IRO) of the University of Crete will help you in finding accommodation during your second semester. Housing  – including apartments – is reasonably priced but there is no student accommodation on the university campus.  For assistance with finding accommodation, please contact Sofia Kyriakidi: kyriakidi@biology.uoc.gr

  • University of Nantes, France

The International Relations Office (IRO) has long experience of supporting incoming international students by providing university and private sector accommodation.  Please contact international.accueil@univ-nantes.fr

When does the ACES-STAR programme start?

Where travel in the current climate allows, students should arrive in Oban, United Kingdom, towards the end of August for an induction week. During your induction week you will complete your enrolment on the course. If government guidelines allow,  you will also get acquainted with SAMS through tours of the labs and facilities, take part in “Freshers” week activities and meet other students, teaching staff and your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT).  Teaching will commence straight after your induction week, usually the first week in September.

English is not my first language so do I need an English language qualification?

Yes, and you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT), i.e. an IELTS (Academic) qualification. We receive a lot of questions from applicants asking if we can accept other qualifications as evidence of English language proficiency and the answer is we cannot. Nor can we accept a letter from your university confirming your medium of instruction for under-graduate study was English.

All non-UK applicants to the EMJMD ACES+ who do not fall into one of the exempt categories for this qualification (see below) must have a valid IELTS certificate and applicants must achieve an overall score of 6.5 in this test and a minimum score of 6.0 in all four components.

If you have taken an IELTS test on or after 6 April 2015 it will only be considered a SELT if it is taken at an approved test centre and is an ‘IELTS test for UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) purposes’. This test will have a ‘UKVI number’ on the results certificate. More information on IELTS can be found on the IELTS website

If you are a national of or hold an academic qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelor degree that was taught in one of the following countries, you will not need an IELTS qualification:

Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, UK and USA

Will I need to obtain a study visa?

Students from outside the United Kingdom will need visa to take part in the EMJMD ACES+. You will need to apply for Standard Visitor visa which will allow you to study in the UK for up to 6 months. More information about the Standard Visitor visa is available via this link: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa

The UK’s exit from the European Union means that students hailing from EU countries will also need a Standard Visitor visa to study in the UK. There are some exceptions under the EU Settlement Scheme, and more guidance about this scheme can be found via this link: https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/EU-EEA–Swiss-Students/Brexit—EU-Settlement-Scheme

UK and non-EU students will need a study visa for the second and third semesters of the EMJMD ACES-STAR and also the fourth semester depending on where they wish to carry out their research dissertation. Staff based at each university of the EMJMD ACES-STAR will provide information and guidance on how to apply for a study visa.

For your first semester  we strongly recommend you apply for your visa in your country of origin/residence. There are limited opportunities for applying for your study visa at the UK border (in the case of non-visa nationals), but getting a visa via this route is NOT guaranteed and it may not allow you multiple entry status to the UK during the lifetime of the visa. When applying for your visa you should always check if the terms of your visa allow you to leave and re-enter the UK. Information and advice about applying for a Standard Visitor visa will be sent to you approx. 3 months before the start date of your first semester.

Please note the earliest you can apply is three months before you  travel. A letter supporting your application for a visa will be sent once you have met all of the conditions of entry to the EMJMD ACES-STAR. You will need to use this letter, along with other official documents, for your visa application. Please note a Standard Visitor visa does not allow you to undertake any form of employment, whether paid or unpaid, in the UK and you must show that you intend to leave at the end of the 6 month period of the visa.

If you have any queries, please contact our Education Administrator at ACES@sams.ac.uk.

You may also find the websites listed below of help:

Please note that visa-related costs are not included in your tuition fees for the EMJMD ACES-STAR.

Do I need to take out insurance?

Medical and travel insurance will be provided for Erasmus Mundus scholarship students. You will be provided with details of the policy during the late summer prior to your enrolment on the course, along with information about how to use medical services in the various EMJMD ACES-STAR partner countries.

Students in receipt of alternative scholarships/ bursaries or who are self-funding will need to purchase insurance before the start of the course. You have the option to join the contract we have with a company that provides insurance cover for Erasmus Mundus scholarship holders and details of the daily premium will be forwarded to you.

What costs are not included in the tuition fees?

Personal computers and textbooks are not included because the libraries of EMJMD ACES-STAR universities have substantial textbook holdings, computers and electronic resources. Students from outside the European Union will need to meet the cost of study visas and residence permits.

All students will have to pay for the optional international field trip planned for the end of Semester 2 to Chile, which will be approximately €3000

What flights and travel will I need to undertake during the programme?

The EMJMD ACES-STAR programme will involve travel from the UK to mainland Europe, including Crete and France. Most flights within the European Union are reasonably priced if booked in advance.

What is the cost of living in various countries?

Living costs vary between the various university cities you will visit during the EMJMD ACES-STAR course.  Costs in the UK and France (Nantes) are generally higher compared to Crete.  Universities have provided the following estimates as general guidance:

Oban, UK: Accommodation with utilities (i.e., electricity and/ or gas) costs approximately GBP £380 to £480 per month, meaning that overall monthly expenses, including food, daily fare for public transportation if living off campus and additional expenses, are probably GBP £800-£900 or €950-€1,000. For general living costs you can find useful information on how to budget on the International student calculator website.

Crete, Greece: The recommended monthly budget to live in Crete is approximately €650; including accommodation, food and additional expenses.

Nantes, France: The recommended monthly budget to live in Nantes is approximately €570 – 900. Please CLICK HERE for a more detailed breakdown of costs.

How high is the workload for EMJMD ACES-STAR?

The EMJMD ACES-STAR is a full-time course and students will be expected to engage in academic work for approximately 30-35 hours each week, which includes formal teaching, small group work sessions and independent study in the library and at home.  The workload may vary each week, particularly when deadlines for assessments are looming!  Please bear in mind, however, that the scheduling and level of formal teaching input provided to students vary between each university/institute.

Who else will I study with?

Approx. 20 students join the course each year.  To give you an idea of the international nature of the EMJMD ACES+ we have recruited students from New Zealand, the USA, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Ukraine, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, France, Germany and Greece – to name but a few countries!

Will I meet local students during my time on the EMJMD ACES-STAR?

Certainly!  First of all, we will try to match you with local students in each institution through a ‘buddy’ system. Social events and occasional joint teaching events will also allow you to meet local students studying on other courses. Several of the universities involved in EMJMD ACES-STAR participate in other Erasmus programmes, making it possible to link you to members of this community. You will be officially enrolled in all of the universities you attend so you can meet students through various clubs, leisure facilities and extracurricular activities. For example, at the University of Nantes there are several student associations; l’Association Autour du Monde ESN Nantes, association des etudiants internationaux.

How will I study?

The teaching activities are designed to promote active learning through discussion, analysis, role play, presentations, and problem-solving.  Instead of focusing solely on lectures and seminars, you will also be involved in group based activities, case studies, role play and field trips to explore new areas and ideas. Beyond formal teaching and related activities, reading and research will also help you to gain more knowledge about the topics delivered as part of the course.

Please note due to COVID-19 many of the above activities are currently suspended and we will aim to re-instate these as soon as government guidelines allow.

What types of assessment will be used?

Assessments are designed to be part of your learning and are not just a way of checking your knowledge. Both academic and practical skills will be developed through a wide range of methods such as presentations, reflective journals, case simulations, business plans, posters and case analyses.  For further details, please look at the assessments listed for each module and student handbooks.

Is industry-based research included in the course?

Yes, most definitely.  In Semester 2, you will undertake an internship based at an aquaculture company or farm in Crete and during Semester 4 you can undertake your research dissertation in collaboration with an industry partner. This is a key feature of the EMJMD ACES-STAR as we believe this has a crucial role in developing entrepreneurial skills and providing networking opportunities.  You will also engage in aquarium-based practicals and field work throughout the semesters, where you will have the opportunity to extend and apply your academic learning.

What degree will I receive at the end of the programme?

If you successfully complete the EMJMD ACES-STAR you will receive a Joint Master Degree from the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Crete, and a Single Degree from the University of Nantes in line with national legislation. Degree certificates are internationally recognised and have the same status as those received by students on single degree programmes. This situation arises because higher education in the European Union is regulated at national rather than international level. In addition, you will receive a diploma supplement that explains the joint nature of the programme and why you have received two degrees. We recommend that you explain to employers and universities that you graduated from an international Master degree that awards joint and multiple degrees.

Can I specialise in a particular area of aquaculture-related work?

All of the EMJMD ACES-STAR modules seek to improve your skills as a manager and/or researcher.  The focus is on cross-cutting competences, for example communication, decision-making, project development and applied research. We also provide two optional modules in each semester to enable you to make choices about your direction of study. Within each module there is scope for further choice because you can pursue your own interests by virtue of the assessments you have to prepare, the topics involved, presentations you may make and wider reading.  The research project in Semester 4 is also an excellent way of gaining deeper knowledge and skills about a particular topic.

Are there opportunities to meet local businesses/ managers?

One of the aims of the EMJMD ACES-STAR is to build an international community of managers in the aquaculture industry and at government level. This means bringing you into contact with local businesses and organisations through networking events, guest lectures, field trips and internships.  We will try to match your area of interest or expertise with local businesses, networks, contacts and colleagues in the aquaculture industry.

Can I choose where I spend Semester 4? 

In carrying out their research dissertation, students will be allocated a lead supervisor at one of the three EMJMD ACES-STAR universities. You will be asked what your preferred interests, location and knowledge of languages are but the final basis for matching you to a particular university or institute will be the availability of supervision, facilities and fieldwork opportunities.  All students will have two supervisors, one from the EMJMD ACES+ teaching team and another from associate partner. Supervisory arrangements and marking procedures will be alike for all students across the partner universities.  Semester 4 finishes with a student conference to showcase the research carried out and a ‘goodbye event’ that brings all students back together.

Can I conduct research in my home country during Semester 4?

Your research dissertation could take place in your home country BUT we want to encourage you to broaden your international experience and outlook. Moreover if you are an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship holder you will lose your monthly scholarship payment if you return to your home country to study and carry out research. Please see the conditions of scholarship funding for further guidance on our ‘Fees and Scholarship’ page.

How can I prepare for the course?

Some preliminary reading may be required of you prior to the start of your first semester date and we will notify you in advance about this.

Can I get in touch with other EMJMD ACES-STAR students before the course starts?

During the summer before you embark on the EMJMD ACES-STAR, you will receive by agreement the contact details of other students on the EMJMD ACES-STAR. Our  Facebook account provides a good introduction to other students and opportunity to exchange information about, for example, finding accommodation and travel to Oban.  In addition, many countries have an Erasmus Mundus alumni association whose representatives can offer advice and suggestions to help you prepare for the start of your studies and the travel that will be involved over the 2 years course.  For more information, click here: Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association

Do I need to sign a contract to enrol on the EMJMD ACES-STAR course?

Every EMJMD ACES-STAR student must sign a Student Agreement before the start of the course. This agreement sets out your rights and entitlements as well as your responsibilities as an EMJMD ACES-STAR student. You will be sent a Student Agreement during the summer prior to the first semester and we will ask that you sign this agreement and email a signed copy back to us. A copy of the agreement bearing your signature and that of the programme leader will be available for you when you start the first semester of the course. Please email ACES@sams.ac.uk if you have any queries about the Student Agreement.

Do I get holidays?

Absolutely!  You will receive two weeks at Christmas and Easter of each academic year.  Moreover, between the first and second years of the course, you will be free from early August until early September, although where you travel may be limited depending on your visa.

Do I have to attend the second-year Student Conference?

Yes – this is compulsory. The Student Conference is an integral part of the EMJMD ACES-STAR and, above all, an important learning event. The conference will give you the opportunity to present your work to an audience of academics and industry partners, meet a wide range of industry representatives, and also reconnect with the rest of your student cohort.

FAQs specific to Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Holders:

How will my Erasmus Mundus scholarship be paid?

For students receiving an Erasmus Mundus scholarship the participation costs (tuition fees) will be transferred automatically to the EMJMD ACES-STAR consortium.

The living allowance component of the scholarship will be paid at the end of each month directly into your bank account. It takes a minimum of 2-3 weeks to obtain a bank account in the EU countries of the consortium. This means that students starting the programme in September will need to bring sufficient funds to live in the UK for a couple of weeks until their bank account is established.

For scholarship holders, the travel element of the funding package will be paid in two instalments, i.e. €3000 or €4000 (Category A) and €1000 (Category B) at the beginning of each academic year.  European Commission rules state that these payments can only be made once students are officially enrolled in the respective university. This means that all scholarship holders must pay for their initial travel to Oban (United Kingdom) from their own resources, although please contact the Education Administrator (ACES@sams.ac.uk) if this is not possible. The travel-related element of the scholarship will be paid as soon as candidates have opened their UK bank account.  Please note that this travel element of the scholarship must also pay for the travel expenses between the partner universities.

Am I entitled to a monthly subsistence allowance when spending a semester or any period of the Joint Master Degree in my country of resident?

No, scholarship holders who spend a semester or any period of the Joint Master Degree (whether as study/research/placement/thesis preparation) in their country of residence will not receive their monthly subsistence allowance.