The European Education Directory

Master Degree in Fleet And Ports Operation

By Assoc. Prof. Nickolay Petkov, PhD
Varna Technical University Varna, Bulgaria


Master Degree In Fleet And Ports Operation aims to train students to be leading specialists in all fields of maritime trade and the operation of its main components.

Maritime transport operates mainly on international markets, servicing over 80% of the world trade. Until recently, maritime transport was a comparatively static sector of world economy in terms of its technology, as well as its organization. However, with the fast advance of new production and management technologies, the environment in which maritime transport exists and develops put forward new requirements for new qualities of transportation services.

Global economy turned to integrated transportation chains, taking into consideration the increasing significance of the time factor. Thus executives managing this important sector should be well familiar with and able to handle a wide range of problems relating to technology, trade, economics and law, enabling them not only to have a good grasp of the existing maritime transportation schemes, but also to assess accordingly the frequent changes in the development of commodity markets, so that operational divisions and maritime business companies could quickly adapt to any changes that may occur.

The Master degree programme in Fleet and Ports Operation is related to that field of global economy, the activities of which have long ago exceeded the boundaries of individual countries and its operational principles have become valid all over the world. Ports are transportation structures that connect the country with the rest of the world. A great deal of foreign trade exchange is carried out through them. Bulgarian shipping companies, brokerage, agency and forwarding firms have been on the international market long before the country turned to the principles of free market economy.

For professional realization in this field young specialists need sound and specialized knowledge of port management, fleet operation and shipping industry.

In late years World shipping industry and port activities and navigation in particular, have developed strict regulation procedures concerning port and ships` operation, safety of navigation and prevention of pollution of the marine environment. Since our local companies are closely linked to shipping around the world, young specialists are required to have good knowledge of a number of international conventions, their subsequent amendments and the way they apply. In addition to class instruction students get training at site and develop positive attitude towards constant professional training and self-perfection.

Considering the international character of the shipping industry and that English is the working language, it is necessary for students to have good command of it, both oral and written. Presently, the successful professional realization of maritime transport specialists is practically impossible without perfecting their English language skills and consequently applying them in effective execution of their professional duties.

The dynamic working milieu in shipping companies today demands the quick adaptation of young specialists. Most of the knowledge and skills should be developed during the period of training to allow gradual transition from studies to work.

The purpose of the Masterís degree course is to train highly qualified specialists in fleet operation and port management. Accordingly, classes aim at students` acquiring certain theoretical and practical knowledge as well as provoking their interest in innovations and steady professional development. The faculty has identified an increasing demand for specialists of high adaptability to changes and has focused the education on subjects that allow grounds for further development.

Taking into consideration these facts the discipline of Fleet and Ports Operation has to meet the following requirements:

- Preparing specialists for the needs of transport (primarily for water transport) with the necessary fundamental knowledge connected with the specific activities in port management area.

- Specialized preparation for learning, summarizing, and performing the specific activities in transport, especially in water transport.

- Specialized preparation according to the requirements of international Conventions in Maritime industry.

- Highly specialized training in English language: written and spoken, with special attention to maritime English.

- Practical skills with the immediate readiness for passing from the stage of classroom conditions of training to real-life situations in transport profession.

- Creating unique skills and habits for individual future professional training and realization of every specialist.

To achieve these goals the masterís in Fleet and Ports Operation is based on a complex training that includes:

- Fundamental training in Higher Mathematics, Technical Mechanics, Computer Science.

- General engineering training, necessary for solving technological and operational tasks by studying Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Hydrodynamics, Data-processing equipment.

- Professional skills, linked to the theory and ship design, port structure, port facilities, port activities, merchant operation of fleet, navigation and port safety, Maritime and Merchant Law, management and marketing, ship and cargo work operations.

- Specialized preparation according to the requirements of the international conventions in navigation, which are in relation with the international maritime law, the economy, the navigation safety and sea prevention from pollution by ships.

At present the education for Masterís degree is getting to an entirely new stage of its development, attaining standards of quality equal to those of the most sophisticated. It concerns the introduction of a computer business simulator into the training process which will enable students to act some operational clauses in real - life conditions which apply to the whole chain of delivery - from a seller to a buyer and on its part it is directly helped by the sea-borne transportation as one of the main ways for its realization. The Masterís Degree curriculum comprises mostly of subjects strictly selected on the given discipline that are taught on the basis of the knowledge acquired through Bachelorís curriculum. These subjects are: Chartering and Brokerage, Ship Agentsí Companies, Logistics and Transport Management, Transportation Technology systems, Storage and Transportation of Cargo. The use of multimedia products has also its share as some of them are ready-made, others are developed in the process of day-toĖday education.

A substantial part that makes for the sophisticated level of education is a well-developed system providing practical training in a number of shipping companies. Varna is a hub centre for the largest companies that have fought their position on the market in this particular branch, such as Varna Port, Navi Maritime Bulgare as well as some of the most important Bulgarian Broker and Agentsí companies. Some of them have agreed each year to undertake training of undergraduates. Those who show ability and skills have the chance to be immediately employed. As a matter of fact all students graduating with a Masterís degree manage to find professional realization fairly quickly in companies in the branch of the sea transportation not only in the town of Varna but in towns at the Black Sea coast and the Danube river. It can also be mentioned that students with Masterís degree in Ports and Fleet Operation ,owing to the specifics of their training course, very often start rather successful careers in international trade companies and in financial institutions. They become valuable experts in offices, departments and agencies in the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications as well as in the municipal administration in coastal towns.

Essential contribution to high level education is given by the academic staff selected among specialists who have both academic and long practical experience in the practice and consultancy work in the areas they teach. All lecturers have more than 30 years of practical experience as specialists in shipping companies and ports, in the direct ship operation as deck officers and engineers and along with this they have acquired academic degrees. They also have considerable experience in project development in the sphere of transport taking part in the work of international groups of consultants such as Hamburg Port Consulting, Pricewaterhouse Coopers as well as in IMO projects supported by the PHARE Programme. Along with for the lecturers, assistants also participate in the seminars. Most have PhDís a Doctorateís in their field in their fields of study.

The students majoring in Fleet and Ports Operation acquiring the degree of Master of Science, upon graduation sit for state exams in:

ē Fleet and Ports Operation Ė theoretical and practical;
ē English Ė theoretical and practical.

For the time being, in spite of the current introduction of similar majors at other universities which shows the growing interest of candidate students and employers, a Masterís Programme is carried out only at the Technical University of Varna. The successful work for the improvement of the methods of training and education has strengthened this position for years to come.

The need for specialists in fleet and ports operation has become permanent and there are great opportunities for realization in this sphere. The development of the world maritime industry indicates that this tendency will continue for long in the future.


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