Marine Protected Areas (3 ECTS)

Semester: 2nd

Code: not yet assigned

Bárbara Horta e Costa:
David Abecasis:

Ocean conservation through marine protected areas (MPAs); Definition of MPAs, types of MPAs and steps for their implementation; Effectiveness of MPAs; Science of MPAs and networks of MPAs. Integrating social, economic and ecological aspects of marine protected areas.

Students are expected to: learn what are marine protected areas, the different types and how have they been used; understand why MPAs have been advocated by global agreements; learn the main guiding principles and criteria for selection, design and management of marine protected areas; understand the concept of connectivity and its central importance for the design of networks of marine protected areas; understand the role of marine protected areas in the context of global ocean management.


28 h of supervised work + 56 h of independent work.

The student will use the time assigned as "independent work" to write a term paper or prepare a presentation and study for a written exam.


As the registration for any elective is mandatory, please wait for an email by the MSc Coordinating Team requesting the names of the electives that you plan to choose for your 1st year, 2nd semester.

NOTE - Enrollment in this elective unit is subject to a maximum number of students. A justification will be requested upon registration, in case that this number is reached and student selection is necessary.


The combination of lectures and field trips will help the students understand the role and importance of MPAs for conservation and management of marine biodiversity and resources. At the end of the course the students should have a good understanding of the different types and expected outcomes of MPAs, the implementation and monitoring of MPAs, and their relation with spatial planning and ocean conservation.

Theoretical topics will be presented in lectures and seminars (theoretical lectures will include student talks); some theoretical-practical exercises will help to improve some specific concepts related to MPAs; the course will also include a visit to a marine park (Arrábida or PNSACV). Evaluation will be by students presentations or a term paper and a written exam.


NOTE: Subject to change

  1. What are marine protected areas (MPAs)? - Types and definitions.
  2. Selection of MPAs - Criteria and design
  3. Networks of MPAs
  4. Monitoring procedures and long-term objectives
  5. Effectiveness of MPAS - the science on MPAs
  6. Global agreements for MPAs and the current situation
  7. Future prospects for ocean conservation and sustainable development