Environmental Biology is increasingly gaining attention, especially in these environmentally-conscience times. Malaysia enjoys the luxury of a rich biodiversity in a relatively small area. Its effective preservation and conservation requires a strong understanding and appreciation of the environment. Students are trained in fundamental and practical aspects of ecology and the environment. Since about 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, the aquatic ecosystems are the major environment and ecosystems on Earth. Aquatic biology and environmental biology are therefore very closely related. Academic personnel in the School of Biological Sciences doing research related to Environmental Biology are also involved in supervising postgraduate students working on Aquatic Biology-related research topics. For this reason, the thrust areas of Aquatic Biology and Environmental Biology are both coordinated under the same Programme Chairperson and comes under the AQEN Bio (AQuatic & ENvironmental Biology) group.
Post-graduate students planning to pursue their Masters of Science or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees do so by completing a research project supervised by one or more lecturers associated with the AQEN Bio group. For Environmental Biology, students can choose any of the following research thrust areas:

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Chemical Ecology
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Soil Sciences
  • Tropical Forest Ecology
  • Tropical Wetland Ecology
  • Wildlife Ecology and Management

For Aquatic Biology, students can choose any of the following research thrust areas:


  • Aquaculture
  • Aquatic Animal Nutrition
  • Aquatic Animal Diseases
  • Coastal Ecosystem
  • Ichthyology
  • Limnology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Plankton Ecology and Productivity

For Marine & Coastal Biology, students can choose any of the following research thrust areas:


  • Coral Reef Ecosystem
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Marine Pollution and Toxicology
  • Marine Culture
  • Study on Mangrove Ecosystem

For a Masters degree, applicants should possess one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biology or equivalent.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology or equivalent with several years of experience in a relevant field.
  • Foreign applicants are also required to have a minimum score of 550 in TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or minimum score of 6.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System).

For a Ph.D., applicants should possess one of the following:


  • A Masters degree or a Bachelor degree with First Class Honors (CGPA > 3.67) in a related area.
  • Foreign applicants are also required to have a minimum score of 550 in TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or minimum score of 6.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System).

Both the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees offered by the School of Biological Sciences in Aquatic Biology and Environmental Biology are by research only. However, applicants may be required to undertake and pass some courses if they are deemed to be academically lacking in certain subjects that may be important to the successful completion of their post-graduate research. A Masters degree on a full-time basis must complete at least 12 months of work and given up to 36 months to complete. On a part-time basis, the minimum time period is 24 months and the maximum period is 72 months. For a Ph.D., full-time students are given a minimum period of 24 months and a maximum of 60 months. For part-time students, the minimum candidacy period is 24 months and a maximum time of 60 months is given to complete the degree.
For admission and application procedures, please refer to the homepage of the Institute of Postgraduate Studies (IPS) at www.ips.usm.my. Information about various financial support schemes available to post-graduate students can also be obtained on the IPS website. Oftentimes, potential research supervisors possess research grants that allow them to financially support some post-graduate students. Applicants are encouraged to first identify and contact a potential research supervisor and enquire about their research project before submitting an application to IPS.

Information about the core research areas, specific research interests and academic qualifications of individual AQEN Bio researchers can be obtained from their academic staff profiles on this website. Several AQEN Bio academic staff are also involved with various Consultancy Services and further information to identify potential areas of research can also be obtained from this section of the School of Biological Sciences website.

In general, the core research strength of the AQEN Bio group can be grouped under three main categories. These are Aquaculture, Marine Biology, and Terrestrial & Aquatic Ecosystems. The various sub-categories where the AQEN Bio group conducts active research are as listed below.


  • Mariculture of mollucs (oysters, mussels, abalone).
  • Zebrafish development and reproductive biology (transcriptomics, genomics, proteomics).
  • Broodstock and larval fish nutrition.
  • Aquaculture nutrition and feed management.
  • Aquatic animal reproduction.
  • Role of lipids and fatty acids in growth and reproduction (whole animal and molecular biology approaches).
  • Fish and shrimp physiology.
  • Fish disease management.
  • Postharvest and seafood quality.
  • The environmental impact of aquaculture.
  • Production of freshwater fish using portable canvas tanks.
  • Phytochemicals of microalgae and seaweeds.
  • Genetics of aquatic animals of commercial importance using molecular markers.
  • Ornamental fish.

Marine Biology

  • Biodiversity of marine bivalves, gastropods, echinoderms.
  • Sea grass and coral reef ecosystems.
  • Giant clam conservation.
  • Conservation and management of fisheries resources.
  • Marine fish biology and taxonomy.
  • Ecological importance of marine algae.
  • Environmental pollution, toxicology and water quality monitoring.
  • Oceanography and marine parks.

Terrestrial &Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Mangrove ecosystem, conservation, and nutrient fluxes.
  • Coastal zone management.
  • Management of land reclamation activities.
  • Intertidal and marine biodiversity.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment studies.
  • Remote sensing and GIS.
  • Wetlands biodiversity, conservation and management.
  • Terrestrial forest ecology and biodiversity.
  • Soil science.
  • Wildlife ecology.
  • Management of rivers, reservoirs, lakes and peat swamps


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