Legals informations

International Master in Advanced Clay Science

Erasmus Mundus Master course

IMACS alumni

Home Overview Objective

Why clay minerals ?

Clay minerals are abundant in the Earth’s surface and have played an important role to the development of human civilisation.
They originate from the interaction between lithosphere with atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. They form out of different parent rocks under variable conditions and display significant variability in chemical composition, structure and properties.
They also undergo spontaneous modification as environmental conditions change, including anthropogenic effects.

Interest in clays results from their common availability, and their unique physical and chemical properties. No other minerals currently attract so great an interest.

Clay research is extremely inter- and multidisciplinary and includes geological, geotechnical, mineralogical, physico-chemical and bio-geochemical aspects. In addition to their conventional ancient use as bricks, tiles, ceramics and for paper coating and waste management more recently, clays have found many novel applications. Clay minerals have provided a boost in technology, because they are inexpensive nanomaterials, and as such, they have a huge potential for the synthesis of polymer nanocomposites with superior mechanical and thermal properties.
The optimisation of adsorption, colloidal and rheological properties also opens prospects of using clay minerals for medical uses, pollution control, and environmental protection. Clay minerals play a role in economic geology (both as important mineral resource and in energy resource exploration) and soil management. Clays also have many negative effects in geotechnical engineering, manifested in the form of landslides, mudflows, and the deterioration of clay-based construction materials. In this case, the only way of responding to such destructive processes is prevention and remediation.

Thus, the complex and versatile nature of clays, as well as their numerous uses and applications, demand that clay scientists have a multidisciplinary education.

Objective of the IMACS program

The IMACS (International Master in Advanced Clay Science) programme was approved by the European Commission under a very competitive application scheme as an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master programme in July 2009. Erasmus Mundus is a cooperation and mobility programme in the field of higher education supported by the European Commission. This programme offers financial support for high-quality joint master courses, attractive scholarships / fellowships for both Non European and European student candidates and short-term scholarships for Non European and European academics to carry out research or teaching assignments as part of the joint masters project.

Most existing Masters Courses dealing with clays focus on a single discipline or domain in which Clay Science does not necessarily constitute the main part of the course (Earth Sciences, Civil and Geotechnical Engineering, Materials Science, Environmental and Life Science, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering). However, Clay Science is a multidisciplinary endeavour, combining geology, mineralogy, crystallography, with physics, geotechnology and soil mechanics together with inorganic, organic, colloid chemistry and biochemistry.

IMACS (International Master in Advanced Clay Science) is the first multi-disciplinary programme
that brings together the widely-distributed knowledge of clay science.

IMACS is an integrated 2 years master programme delivered by five Universities : the University of Poitiers (France), the Technical University of Crete (Chania - Greece), the University of Aveiro (Portugal), the University of Ottawa (Canada) and the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul (Porto Alegre – Brazil), and is supported by the French Clay Group (GFA) and AIPEA (International Association for the Study of Clay Minerals) which are associated members of IMACS.

During the first year, basic knowledge on clays, recent developments in clays and analytical techniques are provided, followed by a four month master project, which completes the first year programme. The second year incorporates two elective specialization options in the following fields: 1) Environment, soil and geological systems, 2) Geomaterials and civil engineering – Assessment and processing, 3) Advanced clay – nanomaterials, and 4) Healing minerals. The master thesis (6 months) completes this second year and can be carried out at any of the partner research laboratories which constitute a network of more than 20 labelled research laboratories and numerous private companies.

The objective of this Master is to form high level graduates by providing them a wide range of competences with applications in Environment, Earth Sciences, Materials (Geomaterials and Nanomaterials)... The interdisciplinary of the IMACS programme gives access to a large job market on the international level. A great number of research laboratories will be able to welcome for PhD IMACS students. IMACS students will be attractive for any engineer vacant positions requiring clay knowledge (Environment and waste management, Civil Engineering, Soils, Industries linked with mineral and energetic resources, Geo materials, Cement and Ceramic industry, Nano-materials, Cosmetics and medicine...).

The teaching language is English. The completion of the curriculum is rewarded by a multiple Master Degree.

Free language training in the local languages is offered by the five higher education institutions. Moreover the programme makes available a range of services and facilities (e.g. visa request, accommodation, insurance, bank account opening, social and cultural activities among many others…) to the students.
This Masters Course is open to students holding a BSc (or a degree equivalent to 180 ECTS) or an academic equivalence based on professional experience (validation of acquired experience is required), and a fluent understanding of the English language.