World Maritime University

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden, is a postgraduate maritime university founded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. Established by an IMO Assembly Resolution in 1983, the aim of WMU is to further enhance the objectives and goals of IMO and IMO member states around the world through education, research, and capacity building.

World Maritime University
World Maritime University logo.svg
Other name
TypeInternational university
Established1 May 1983; 37 years ago (1983-05-01)
Parent institution
International Maritime Organization
AffiliationUnited Nations
ChancellorKitack Lim
PresidentCleopatra Doumbia-Henry
Academic staff
Students350 (2017)[2]
Postgraduates327 (2017)[2]
23 (2017)[2]
Alumni4,919 (2,018)[3]
55°36′28″N 12°59′48″E / 55.607750°N 12.996570°E / 55.607750; 12.996570Coordinates: 55°36′28″N 12°59′48″E / 55.607750°N 12.996570°E / 55.607750; 12.996570
BranchesShanghai (Shanghai Maritime University)
Dalian (Dalian Maritime University)
New WMU Building


WMU is considered an international university and has been granted the status of a UN institution by its host country, the Government of Sweden. Serving as a center for people of many nationalities to participate in teaching and learning, WMU encourages international co-operation to address international maritime problems and coordinate international action. Programmes offered include Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in Maritime Affairs. Post-graduate diplomas are offered via distance education in Marine Insurance, Maritime Energy, Executive Maritime Management, and International Maritime Law. Professional Development Courses (PDCs) and international conferences and events cater to the professional maritime community, as well as research.

As part of IMO, WMU is an education provider that is independent of any individual national education system, and is not a Swedish institution. WMU is operated for all IMO Member States and is entitled to conduct activities in Sweden under the agreement concluded between IMO and the Government of Sweden and the provisions of the Charter of WMU adopted by IMO for WMU activities in Sweden (A 25/Res. 1030). Under the provisions of this Charter, WMU has the power to confer degrees in Sweden as confirmed in 2014 by the Ministry of Education and Research.[4] Due to this special status, WMU is not accredited in Sweden but is internationally considered as an accredited institution, according to a United Nations statement.[5]


In the early 1980s, the IMO recognized that there was a shortage of well-qualified, highly educated maritime experts, particularly in lesser developed nations. To address this gap, the IMO endeavored to found an institution to support Member States with the high-level education necessary to implement international Conventions. Subsequently, in 1981 it passed Resolution A. 501(XII), which requested that the Secretary-General of the United Nations take all steps in order to establish a world maritime university.[6][7]

In determining the institution's location, then IMO Secretary-General, Dr. C.P. Srivastava, approached the Swedish Ministry of Transport who welcomed the idea and Malmö was determined as the home of the institution. With the financial support of the Swedish government, the City of Malmö, and private donations, WMU was inaugurated on 4 July 1983.[6]


The city of Malmö has always provided facilities for the University. In April 2015, WMU moved to the historic Old Harbour Master's building, Tornhuset, in the center of Malmö. Completed in 1910 and designed by the eminent Swedish architect Harald Boklund, Tornhuset served as the main office for Malmö’s harbor administration and was intended to provide panoramic views of shipping in the Öresund and in Malmö harbor.

An architectural competition by the City of Malmö sought the best possible design for the extension to Tornhuset. The winning entry by renowned architect Kim Utzon of Kim Utzon Architects in collaboration with Australian architect Tyrone James Cobcroft of Terroir Architects, centered on the concept of the building as an "urban hinge" linking the historic city center of Malmö to the docklands. The new facilities essentially doubled the University’s floor space.


WMU is governed by Charter and Statutes, approved by IMO Assembly, which is made up of delegations from 170 IMO Member States and 3 Associate Members. The WMU Board of Governors (BoG) is appointed by the IMO Secretary-General, and consists of 30 members, who each serve two-year renewable terms. The Board of Governors meets annually, chaired by WMU’s Chancellor who to date has been the IMO Secretary-General. The BoG reports to IMO Council which consists of the 40 leading maritime states.

An 11-person Executive Board (EB) is appointed by the IMO Secretary-General to help facilitate the work of WMU, provide oversight between sessions of the BoG, give directions and guidelines as necessary, consider draft plans of work and budgets, report to the BoG, and meet no less than three times a year. Members of the EB serve renewable two-year terms.

WMU’s current Charter was established by IMO Resolution A.1030(26), which took effect on 1 January 2010. The appointment and functions of the Chancellor, the Board of Governors, the Executive Board, and the Academic Council are detailed in the Charter. Any amendment to the WMU Charter is submitted by the Board of Governors to the IMO Council for approval and thereafter to the IMO Assembly for adoption.


WMU offers only postgraduate studies, meaning the students must have completed a relevant university education. In addition, students are expected to have worked in the industry for at least five years. A solid understanding of English is a requirement of all WMU programmes and students must pass internationally recognized tests of English as a foreign language. Students who need to sharpen their English skills prior to the start of the Malmö M.Sc. studies can enroll in the intensive, 3- month English and Study Skills Programme (ESSP) focusing on maritime English. Programmes available as of 2016 include:

Doctoral programmeEdit

WMU offers a doctoral programme in Maritime Affairs within the following research areas:

  • Marine Environmental Management
  • Maritime Administration: Law, Policy & Security
  • Shipping & Port Management
  • Maritime Technology & Education
  • Maritime Risk & System Safety
  • Maritime Energy

As of 2015, 9 graduates have been awarded the doctoral degree.[8]

Master of Science in Maritime AffairsEdit

The following areas of specialization within the Master of Science in Maritime Affairs include:

The areas of specialization in Malmö, Sweden include:

  • Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration
  • Ocean Sustainability, Governance and Management
  • Maritime Education & Training
  • Maritime Law & Policy
  • Port Management
  • Shipping Management & Logistics
  • Maritime Energy Management

The area of specialization in Shanghai, China (Shanghai Maritime University) is:

  • MSc International Transport & Logistics

The area of specialization in Dalian, China (Dalian Maritime University) is:

  • Maritime Safety & Environmental Management

Distance learningEdit

WMU offers several postgraduate diploma programmes via distance learning; Executive Maritime Management in cooperation with DNV GL, and Marine Insurance, Maritime Energy Management, and International Maritime Law in co-operation with Lloyd's Maritime Academy.

Student lifeEdit

Henrik Smith Residence

The average age of the students is generally mid-30s and each class represents roughly 45 countries. WMU actively works to implement the UN Millennium Development Goal regarding the empowerment of women. Until the late 1990s, female students made up less than 5% of the Malmö intake. Recruitment strategies and support from fellowship donors have resulted in the proportion of female students rising to around a third of the annual intake.

Roughly half of the students are funded by their own companies, governments, or national funding agencies. Financial support from WMU donors accounts for the remaining students with only a fraction of the students paying out-of-pocket.

Teaching and learningEdit

WMU has an international faculty of roughly 20-25 resident members, plus research associates, from countries spanning the globe. There are also more than 150 Visiting Professors and Guest Lecturers from around the world. Many of the faculty have backgrounds as mariners, and almost a quarter of WMU faculty are female.

In general, courses in the M.Sc. programmes are intensive, 1-2 week long classes allowing students to focus on a particular topic, and facilitating the incorporation of visiting professors. The first term focuses on Foundation studies that are completed by all students before specialized studies take place during Terms 2 and 3. The final Term 4 focuses on a range of electives, allowing students to deepen their specialization and add explore other specializations as well.

An important part of the Malmö M.Sc. education is the Field Study programme that provides the opportunity for students to travel and to see what they are learning in class being put into practice. Each student in the M.Sc. Malmö program spends essentially three weeks traveling for field studies to host organizations in such countries as Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Korea, Malta, Norway, Portugal, The Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Field studies are also a part of the M.Sc. programmes in Shanghai and Dalian, China, but are typically more regionally oriented.

International conferencesEdit

Since 2008, WMU has offered international conferences on such key topics as the impact of climate change on maritime transport, ballast water management systems, oil spill risk management, piracy at sea, ship recycling, corporate social responsibility in the shipping industry, and maritime women.

Professional development coursesEdit

WMU offers an extensive range of professional development courses (PDCs) in a variety of subjects with the potential for tailor-made courses at any location worldwide. WMU has a unique relationship with the IMO that allows for unprecedented access to maritime experts and a close connection to the broad spectrum of key maritime issues. PDC topics are based on the current needs and projected requirements of the maritime market particularly in key IMO mandated areas of maritime safety, security and environmental management. Led by WMU faculty, PDCs can range in length from a few days to several weeks.


Parallel to the academic programmes, research is a priority at WMU with roughly 15 on-going projects in areas such as mitigating invasive species in the arctic, risk assessment, Maritime Spatial Planning, e-navigation and safety of life at sea. In May 2012, IMO Secretary General Koji Sekimizu inaugurated the Maritime Risk and Safety (MaRiSa) Simulation Laboratory, a specialized research lab offering unique experimental facilities, particularly in the field of e-navigation.

Institutional publicationsEdit

The WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs (WMU JoMA) was established in October 2002 and since 2011 has been published by Springer. It is an international journal that covers the subject areas of maritime safety, marine environment protection and shipping operations, giving special attention to the human element and the impact of technology. WMU JoMA is for professionals in maritime administration, industry and education. It aims at serving the international maritime community by presenting fresh ideas and current thinking on subjects of topical interest, reporting on relevant research findings and addressing interrelationships between safety, environment protection and efficiency of maritime transport.[9]


  1. ^ "People". World Maritime University. World Maritime University. n.d. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2017". World Maritime University. World Maritime University. 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  3. ^ "At a Glance 2019". World Maritime University. World Maritime University. 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Conferring of degrees in Sweden by WMU | World Maritime University". 2014-09-10. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  5. ^ "Update to Inspira database and WHED" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  6. ^ a b "History". World Maritime University. World Maritime University. n.d. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  7. ^ International Maritime Organization (20 November 1981). "Establishment of a High-Level World Maritime University at Malmö, Sweden" (PDF). International Maritime Organization. International Maritime Organization. 8 May 2019
  8. ^ [1] Archived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "WMU Journal | World Maritime University". 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2013-07-25.