EMMC Coastal and Marine Engineering and Managment - CoMEM

CoMEM Programme Objectives

Motivation and importance of CoMEM education:

Recent disasters, including the intense tropical storm affecting Queensland, Australia (27-30 December 2010)1 and the earthquake followed by a tsunami in Japan (11 March 2011), bear testimony to the massive risks due to present coastal hazards. These risks are growing due to factors such as expanding coastal settlements and economies and climate change: the latest IPCC (2007)2 findings indicate that global sea level rise during the 21st century could be 4 to 8 times higher than that during the last century. Collectively, this could result in unprecedented losses in the coming decades, especially in highly developed and inhabited coastal regions such as Northern Europe, North Eastern America and South, South-East and East Asia (Kabat et al., 2009; Nicholls et al., 2007)3. To prevent such impacts, it is imperative that informed and sustainable coastal planning/management strategies are developed and implemented immediately.

Coastal zones around the world show a dynamic character which is in conflict with our rigid infrastructure. The uncertainties in Marine meteo-oceanographic factors, in addition to the ever increasing pressure of use on the coastal zone, are aggravating the level of these conflicts, as illustrated by the "squeezed coastal zones of southern Europe".

The detailed coastal and marine challenges have become more varied. Tools and calculation methods have become significantly more advanced.  The effects of the high rise in economic constraints have become very evident. Coastal environments in Europe have suffered severe degradation and encountered difficulties particularly in maintenance: (1) due to the increase of human pressure and (2) the long lasting economic crisis in which we are immersed. The cultural, legal and administrative variations within the European Union pose challenges in defining and implementing joint solutions.

The last decade has witnessed an increasing public and commercial focus on the Arctic regions. Global warming and the associated reduction of ice cover in summer gives rise to new opportunities for education, research and development. Coastal erosion and coastal protection work in ice-infested waters is one issue in need of being addressed.  The education of Arctic engineers through the CoMEM programme will contribute to a sustainable exploration and exploitation of the valuable and vulnerable Arctic region. Additionally, knowledge on the Arctic can also be applied, in terms of generic knowledge, for the Antarctic. The growing interest in exploitation of natural resources (oil, renewable energy) at higher latitudes justifies developing expertise in marine processes for northern Europe. To illustrate the relevance of the fields and competences the programme encompasses and its role as a needed contributor, the recently published report (2012) of Lloyd's of London referred to as the Arctic report4 discloses a prediction of $100 billion or more to be invested in the region over the coming decade. The mammoth investments predicted call for two points of special interest related to the CoMEM programmes contribution. Lloyds state that: "investment in science and research is essential, to close the knowledge gaps, reduce uncertainties and manage risks" and thereby they stress importance of knowledge transfer between academia and industry.

Erasmus Mundus Objectives:
The overall objectives of the European Commission in its implementation of Erasmus Mundus 2009-2013 are incorporated in the implementation of CoMEM.

The outlining objectives of the proposed EMMC CoMEM are :

  • to promote and sustain international cooperation on institutional and professional levels worldwide within the field of Civil Engineering, and specifically in the socio-economic application of Coastal and Marine Engineering and Management.
  • to facilitate cooperation and compatibility between eligible European HEI partners to support academic excellence and to deliver highly trained professionals within the framework of a shared and integrated curriculum;
  • to contribute to the mutual enrichment of selected students and scholars within the Erasmus Mundus MSc programme CoMEM, aiming at internationally experienced, open-minded and well qualified professionals to participate in an increasingly globally-oriented academic atmosphere and labour market.

CoMEM specific objectives:

The programme ‘s objectives are as follows:

  • To offer high quality and innovative education in the field of Coastal and Marine Engineering and Management;
  • To add distinctive value of each of the European partner institutions' expertise;
  • To educate  students in fundamental and specialized knowledge and intellectual skills in the field;
  • To train students in the most advanced tools and research techniques available within the field;
  • To build on existing fundamental knowledge and to offer advanced knowledge and understanding of specializations accessible through the CoMEM  partners communities;
  • To create awareness and educate students in the ethical and integral dimensions of their future profession;
  • To develop an informed understanding of the social, ethical and professional responsibility in coastal management strategies;
  • To prepare students for employment in challenging careers within  the field of coastal and marine engineering and management in Europe and worldwide;


CoMEM will provide a comprehensive education that encompasses the range of marine factors for engineering and management solutions in a modern context. CoMEM students will gain knowledge and skills to be able to address the needs and contribute to the ongoing and future challenges in the field as describe above. Therefore, the state-of-the-art education of coastal engineers in CoMEM is socially relevant and urgent. CoMEM students will gain knowledge and skills in multi coastal environments, specific competences such as harbour structures, sediment transport, environmental impact, and generic competences including team work, inter-cultural exposure and training through mobility at partner universities.

Courses at each of the participating universities are inevitably conditioned by the local (distinctive) climate, tradition, knowledge and expertise. The global situation is such that future engineers need a commensurate world class engineering expertise that can only be obtained within the distinct designed educational tracks. The students' mobility within the CoMEM partners will expose them to a wide variety of coastal / marine environments and issues.

The students, as the most important stakeholders, benefit from access to international experts and fully developed state-of-the-art curricula. The CoMEM associated partners and network include major commercial companies, research institutions, national authorities and third country HEI's. Thus worldwide coastal and marine challenges can be addressed for the benefit of the student. The specifically designed integrated modules within the various CoMEM Tracks provide pathways in: (1) Arctic Marine Coastal Engineering; (2) Marine Operations and Management; (3) Environment and Management; (4) Coastal Engineering; (5) Engineering and the Environment. The programme prepares the students for both a career in academia /research and in industry and is therefore closely linked to the active research within the partners and the CoMEM network. CoMEM includes a strong environmental focus with an emphasis on ethics and sustainability to elicit professionalization in a global context.


1 Isolated flooding started in early December 2010. The first major flooding occurred as a result of a monsoon trough (23rd Dec) and a cyclone (25th Dec). Most of the 'first round' of flooding in central and southern Queensland flooding occurred between 27th and 30th December. The flooding increased with consistent rainfall during January. Different parts of Queensland were 're-flooded' throughout early January with the flooding of Brisbane City around the 11th / 12th January." (stated by CoMEM 2009-2011 student A. Pomeroy)

2 IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Summary for Policy Makers. Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK

3 Kabat, P., Fresco, L.O., Stive, M.J.F., Veerman, C.P., van Alphen, J.S.L.J., Parmet, B.W.A.M., Hazeleger, W, and Katsman, C,A. 2009. Dutch coasts in transition. Nature Geoscience, 2(7): 450-452

Nicholls, R, J., Wong, P. P.,  Burkett, V. R., Codignotto, J. O.,  Hay, J. E.,  McLean, R. F., Ragoonaden, S. and Woodroffe, C. D. 2007. Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

4 http://www.lloydsoflondon.com.ru/~/media/Files/News%20and%20Insight/360%20Risk%20Insight/Arctic_Risk_Report_20120412.pdf