Irish and Moroccan Zoology Disciplines Partner in Research and Teaching

NUI Galway Zoology students studied scorpions, spiders and reptiles in the mountains of Tiznit, Morocco, as part of a week-long module on practical skills in Zoology held in Morocco.
Jul 09 2019 Posted: 12:07 IST

NUI Galway develop zoology partnership with the University Ibn Zohr in Morocco sharing strengths in ecology, ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources

In the coming three years, NUI Galway will assist with the development of the first natural History Museum in Southern Morocco, participate towards the teaching of ecology courses and provide internships for Moroccan students. NUI Galway undergraduate and postgraduate zoology students will also have the opportunity to travel to Morocco for up to two months to work and sharpen their skills in a range of North African ecosystems, including the Sahara Desert, national parks and coastal regions. 

In 2018, NUI Galway’s College of Science and the Ibn Zohr University of Agadir in Morocco formed a general Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and are continuing to develop teaching and research partnerships through the discipline of Zoology in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway and the Ibn Zohr University Faculty of Sciences.

In May 2019, NUI Galway was successful in securing its first Erasmus Plus proposal worth over €65,000 to strengthen the relationship between the two institutions with the long-term goal of raising the profile of NUI Galway as an international partner on the African continent and developing a stream of incoming international students. Ibn Zohr University is the largest of the Moroccan universities and provides third level education to over 120,000 students on 16 campuses in eight cities across Southern Morocco.

This is NUI Galway’s first partnership with a major African university to collaborate simultaneously on a research-led staff exchange programme, teaching and learning technology exchange programme, co-teaching of undergraduate/postgraduate modules in both institutions and undergraduate/postgraduate summer student exchange programmes.

For the 2018/2019 academic year, undergraduate students in Zoology were already part of an eight-day module on ‘Practical skills in Zoology in Souss Massa National Park in Morocco’ that provided a succession of field-based training, focusing on the study of various ecosystems within the National Park, including coastal, semi-arid and steppe ecosystems, delivered and coordinated by staff at both universities. The success of this module has led to an increase in the intake of fourth year students and postgraduate students for the 2019/2020 academic year.

Speaking about the partnership, Dr Michel Dugon, Zoology, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said: “Morocco is fast becoming a pan-African political and economic leader. It is ranked second in Africa for foreign direct investment, and emphasises high-skill industries such as green energy. The Ryan Institute and the Ibn Zohr University Faculty of Science share strengths in ecology, bioprospecting, ecosystem conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. This is a great opportunity for our students to gain international exposure and develop skills in unfamiliar environments. It also further establishes the position of NUI Galway as a leading partner for the development of high-standard Higher Education in emerging countries.”

Dr Colin Lawton, Zoology, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said: “Developing this teaching and research partnership with Ibn Zohr University Faculty of Sciences offers exciting opportunities for our students and researchers to learn about diverse ecology and ecosystems like Southern Morocco. The discipline of Zoology is also in the process of applying for grants to fund further research in partnership with Ibn Zohr University and local stakeholders.” 

For more about NUI Galway’s Zoology courses, visit: or email


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