WMU’s PhD programme offers students the opportunity to carry out research across the maritime field, but with an emphasis on issues related to the International Maritime Organization’s mission of maritime safety, security and environmental protection. Our doctoral programme offers unrivalled access to international maritime experts both inside and outside academia, and to organizations working at the forefront of research and development.

Doctoral students have come to WMU from industry, academia and the government sector, and have completed their dissertations in a very wide range of subject areas, from investigating oil-spill mitigation to an analysis of organizational learning in shipping companies.

New Opportunities

Ph.D. Scholarship and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Programme in Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development
The World Maritime University (WMU) WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (GOI), with the support of the the Government of Canada through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), has launched a Ph.D. Scholarship and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Programme on Gender Empowerment in support of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development through research, education and capacity building. The deadline to apply is 14 July 2019. For more information about how to apply, click here.

WMU-Koji Sekimizu PhD Fellowship on Maritime Governance
Spearheaded by the World Maritime University (WMU) with support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and Dr. Koji Sekimizu, WMU’s Chancellor and the seventh IMO Secretary-General, the research under the Fellowship is intended to provide an assessment of the role, development and impact of IMO in the field of maritime governance over the past 60 years. It will also take into account the roles of relevant United Nations agencies and bodies, and analyse how competing and complementary international and regional interests have influenced maritime governance. The deadline to apply is 23:59 CET on 15 September 2019. For more information about how to apply, click here.

The credit system

The PhD programme consists of 240 ECTS credits completed usually over a registration period of three to six years. Candidates may be based at the University or elsewhere, usually at their place of employment.

Within the time limits of three to six years, candidates may work at their own pace, which can also vary during their period of enrollment. For example, you may choose to spend one year working at WMU full time, and then return home to complete your work over a longer period, with short visits to the University for progression seminars, meetings, and so on

1 ECTS credit (EC) is approximately 25 study load hours. One academic year is generally 60 EC, or 1500 study load hours, or 36 hours per week over an academic year of 42 weeks. 


Each of the four progression seminars, successfully completed, earns 40 EC. Successful defence of a finalized dissertation earns a candidate 60 EC.

In the initial 6 to 12 months of their registration, students complete a research methodology programme (20 EC), and prepare a detailed proposal for their research, including a literature review. At the end of this initial period, the first progression seminar is held, at which the candidates each present their research proposals.

Throughout the doctoral programme, further progression seminars are held where the candidates present their work to date and their research plans for the next twelve-month period. After every seminar, the Progression Board meets, and considers each candidate's report and a report from each principal supervisor. At this Board meeting, decisions are taken as to whether the candidate is to be permitted to progress to the next stage of the research.

The defence of each PhD dissertation is assessed by a specially established committee, which includes at least one senior and well recognised external expert in the relevant field, from an established organization.

A candidate’s enrolment can be terminated at any point if his/her progress is not considered to be satisfactory.

Advanced standing

A candidate who has completed part of a doctoral degree elsewhere may transfer into the WMU programme with advanced standing. Their period of enrolment at WMU will vary in line with the amount of research they have already completed, but the minimum permissible period of enrolment must include at least two progression seminars and the dissertation (140 EC). A candidate with advanced standing must therefore be registered for at least 12 months.


All doctoral students have a principal supervisor who is a member of the resident faculty. According to the topic of research, a student may also have a co-supervisor, who may be a Visiting Professor or a suitable person from outside the University.