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Programme description. Studying how ecosystems benefit humanity and how we use and manage them, this programme assesses the trade-offs involved in our use of the environment. Read more

Programme description

Studying how ecosystems benefit humanity and how we use and manage them, this programme assesses the trade-offs involved in our use of the environment.

This is a rapidly developing area, involving both natural and social sciences, and an increasingly common approach to environmental policy-making and management in government agencies and businesses.

On this programme you will study the complex relationships between ecosystem functions and how humanity uses and values ecosystems.

An essential element of this masters programme is a field trip, which takes place in the spring, giving you insights into methods and approaches that will be useful for your dissertation work. The destination typically will be the Cairngorms National Park, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Programme structure

The programme has been designed with a focus on building up skills that are in particularly short supply in the environmental sector. The full-time programme is divided into two semesters of taught courses, followed by a field trip at Easter before the dissertation period over the summer. We are happy to accommodate different working patterns for part-time students, including a half day a week schedule for three-year part time study.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management;
  • Analysing the Environment
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour
  • Research Project in Ecosystem Services
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses^. We particularly recommend:

  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Principles of Geographical Information Science
  • Encountering Cities
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Values and the Environment
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Research Skills in the Social Sciences: Data Collection
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Hyperspectral Remote Sensing
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Introduction to Radar Remote Sensing
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Water Resource Management
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Energy & Society
  • Novel Strategies for Carbon Storage in Soil
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Research Design

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trip

A spring field trip will develop students’ research skills and practical experience of environmental policy.

Applicants receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Career opportunities

UK research councils cite the skills gained on this MSc as those ‘most wanted’ in the environmental sector. As demand for sound evidence of ecosystem services increases, so does demand for graduates who can translate complex science into policy and business opportunities.

We have strong links with businesses and key industry players who want to make use of these skills. Committed to helping you meet prospective employers and network with those active in the field, we organise careers events, and encourage dissertations conducted in partnership with external organisations.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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Programme description. This online learning programme provides an interdisciplinary approach to conservation management. Read more

Programme description

This online learning programme provides an interdisciplinary approach to conservation management.

It draws together expertise from within the University of Edinburgh's Global Health Academy and partner global associates, to deliver first class teaching and research in the field of Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health.

You will assess all aspects of ecosystems, aiming to conserve and maintain their sustainability in both the developing and developed world.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Academies.

Online learning

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Programme structure

The programme is delivered using innovative online learning. It involves a mixed teaching approach that includes independent study and reflection, as well as online discussion and group project work.

Year 1: certificate

You study the following areas:

  • Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
  • Ecosystems and Governance
  • Conservation Ethics

Year 2: diploma

You choose six elective courses from the following:

  • Climate Change, Policy and Practice
  • Communication and Public Engagement of Conservation
  • Connecting Environment and Society
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Ecosystem Resilience and Extreme Events
  • Environmental Law
  • Ex-situ Wildlife Management
  • An introduction to transboundary diseases
  • Introduction to GIS and spatial data analysis
  • Invasive Non-Native Species
  • Land Use and Food Security
  • Managing and Leading Conservation Projects
  • Reflections on Professional Development
  • The Marine Environment
  • The Modern Zoo
  • The Use of Artificial Reproduction Technologies in Threatened Species
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Wildlife Crime and Forensic Investigation
  • Wildlife, animal Health and environment
  • Zoonotic Disease

Elective courses are subject to minimum student numbers and timetabling restrictions.

Year 3: masters

You complete your own choice of dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words.

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD)

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Please contact the programme team for more information about available courses and course start dates.

Career opportunities

This programme has been designed to help you find work in environmental, intergovernmental, national and international agencies, as well as lobby groups, NGOs and other research groups.



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The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Read more
The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced scientific knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction.

This joint international MSc course between the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Justus-Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany is the response to these global change challenges and will suit skilled motivated science graduates wishing to develop a scientific career in ecosystem research as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy.

You will be involved in active research groups in both countries, contributing to their ongoing ecosystem studies in order to experience the process of creating scientific knowledge in ecosystem science. In addition to acquiring skills in measuring, analysing and understanding what is behind scientific data you will have the opportunity to develop your analytical, presentation and communication skills to enable you to participate in the policy making process.

Key Fact

Graduates will receive a joint international degree from two well-established universities combining their complementary and multidisciplinary research profiles and cutting-edge expertise. Through the 6-8 weeks work placement in in a company or institution of your choice, you will acquire transferable skills which will make you a sought after and effective employee.

Course Content and Structure

This is a 120 CP programme comprising 70 CP of taught modules, 20CP of work placement and 20 CP of independent research project. The first semester is based at UCD, Dublin, followed by a 6-8 week work placement in a company or institution of your choice. We have established links with organisations such as FAO, UNFCCC, ISEO, EFI, ICLEI and NOAA as well as European and national EPA agencies and many research institutes.
The second taught semester is based in JLU, Giessen between March and August and the third semester (Sept-Dec) is devoted entirely to the individual research project, which can be undertaken in either UCD, JLU or another approved research institute.
Samples of topics include:

• Global change (soil, air, water): modelling and advanced techniques
• Science and policy
• Research in ecology
• Environmental law and policy
• Man in past climates
• Policy consultancy
• Plant-soil-atmosphere interactions
• Biodiversity informatics
• Data analysis and interpretation
• Economics and environmental management
• Environmental impact assessment


For more information on module description and available scholarships, visit http://globalchange.ucd.ie/

Career Opportunities

Graduates may pursue roles as policy advisers, scientific analysts or researchers in government, international organisations, NGOs, research institutes or consulting companies. There are also many opportunities for further studies. The skills you acquire, particularly through the completion of the minor thesis within a 4 month period, provide a strong foundation for PhD research.

Prospective employers include the national Environmental Protection Agency, governmental departments, European Commission as well as policy consultancy firms such as European Environment Agency and also international organisations (e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; United Nations Environment Programme; Food and Agriculture Organisation; International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Facilities and Resources

• A climate change station at JLU hosts one of the world longest-running Free Air Carbon dioxide (FACE) experiments.
• The Program for Experimental Atmospheres and Climate (PEAC) at UCD is a state-of-the art plant growth room facility to investigate past and future climatic scenarios.
• The UCD Earth Institute is a centre for resource and environment research aimed at leading Ireland’s response to climate change and the global energy crisis.

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Marine environments are treated as integrated systems, exploring the interconnections between the physical environment, biodiversity and the impact of human activity and resource use. Read more
Marine environments are treated as integrated systems, exploring the interconnections between the physical environment, biodiversity and the impact of human activity and resource use. This holistic approach achieves a superior understanding of ecosystem goods-and-services and how to protect and manage marine systems.

The programme is jointly organised and delivered by two internationally renowned organisations: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) at the University of St Andrews and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) on the west coast of Scotland near Oban.

The programme provides intensive expert tuition in the ecology and management of marine systems with a strong practical and research basis. Laboratory and practical fieldwork takes place at field stations in the UK, and includes the use of the SAMS research vessel MV Calanus. Students learn to use models and protocols to assess ecosystem health and the socioeconomic status of marine systems.

The first semester taught component of the programme is delivered at SOI in St Andrews, with the second semester delivered at SAMS in Oban on the west coast of Scotland (with options of a polar field course in Antarctica or a tropical scientific diving course in Indonesia).

Research Project (dissertation)

From May to August, students focus solely on their research project leading to the submission of a dissertation. Assessment for this part of the course contributes one third of the total mark for the MSc. The topic and plan for the project will be developed by the student in collaboration with one or more academic supervisors at SAMS or at St Andrews.

Additional Entry Requirements

Proof of satisfactory English Language competence for applicants whose first language is not English (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Proficiency Exam). Students must be able to communicate their ideas effectively in writing, in discussions and presentations. Please see the University of St Andrews list of minimum language requirements for postgraduate study http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/elt/entry/ . Note that additional requirements may apply depending on the test taken, e.g. IELTS of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each paper.

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The Master’s specialisation in Transnational Ecosystem-based Water Management (TWM) is partly taught at Radboud University and partly at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. Read more
The Master’s specialisation in Transnational Ecosystem-based Water Management (TWM) is partly taught at Radboud University and partly at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. At each University you will take different courses concering for example Water governance and Spatial Planning.

-Compulsory courses at Radboud University

Orientation in Biology and Environmental Sciences (3 EC)
Ecological and Environmental Concepts (3 EC)
Management of Ecosystems (3 EC)
Biodiversity and Ecological Assessment (3 EC)
Ecological and Environmental Modelling (3 EC)
Water Governance and Spatial Planning (3 EC)
Integrated Water Management (3 EC)
Environmental Economics for Water Management (3 EC)
Social Aspects of Water Management (3 EC)
Philosophy of water management (3 EC)

-Compulsory courses at the University of Duisburg-Essen

Hydroclimatology and Sustainable Water Management (2 EC)
Hydrogeology and Application (4 EC)
Hydraulics and Sediment Transport (3 EC)
Ecology and Protection of Freshwater Ecosystems and Aquatic Organisms (5 EC)
Field Trips (2 EC)
Water-borne Diseases (2 EC)
Basics in Hydraulic Planning and Facility Design (3 EC)
Waste Water Treatment (3 EC)
Flood Management (3 EC)
River Basin Management (3 EC)

Furthermore, you’ll profit from the expertise at two universities and become familiar with different cultures and research approaches. And after successful completion of the programme, you'll receive a German and a Dutch diploma. With that broad background, our graduates often find a job as manager or project leader, with an all-encompassing view in national or international water-related projects.

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You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas. Read more
You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas.

Your studies focus on wildlife conservation with a particular emphasis on agriculture, forestry and amenity. Elements of the course have strong links with national, statutory and non-governmental conservation organisations. Practical management skills are gained through involvement in management problems on nature reserves and field courses that provide experience in species identification.

The course has compulsory and optional modules, giving you the opportunity to tailor your studies to your personal interests. Through the compulsory modules you will develop knowledge and skills in core concepts such as:
-Understanding the range of temperate zone ecosystems and wildlife species
-Developing a critical awareness of contemporary conservation issues and research insights
-Understanding scientific survey, habitat assessment and experimental techniques and the ability to identify common species from selected habitats
-The development of effective management plans for species and ecosystems
-Understanding complex biodiversity and ecosystem management issues
-Advanced knowledge and understanding of the influence of environmental, management and land-use factors on ecosystems and wildlife species

You also undertake a major conservation project and are supported through training in designing and delivering a project based on a laboratory or field-based investigation. After choosing your topic you collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis.

Our staff

You benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from: pot – plot – farm – landscape.
Strategic research embraces work on:
-Soil quality
-Rhizosphere function
-Plant-soil feedback
-Soil-carbon dynamics
-Nutrient cycling

Applied research addresses issues of:
-Climate change mitigation (including biofuels)
-Ecological (organic) farming systems
-Low-input crop systems
-Agriculture-environment interactions

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The increasing demand for those with an understanding of the environment provides fantastic opportunities for those with knowledge of ecosystem services and management. Read more
The increasing demand for those with an understanding of the environment provides fantastic opportunities for those with knowledge of ecosystem services and management. Get ahead of the competition by improving your qualifications on our Masters programme. You'll gain all the knowledge you need on assessing and understanding ecosystems and how to value the services they provide, ensuring that a healthy and resilient environment is present now and in the future. We offer a range of modules to help you model within business planning across sectors for economic development and environmental protection, so take your expertise to the next level by completing our course!

Course outline

This Masters is designed to provide students with knowledge on how to assess ecosystems, how to value the services they provide and how this information informs and supports the sustainable use of natural resources decision-making process.

Students will share four taught core modules that will cover the fundamentals of the subject area plus a dissertation module. For the remaining taught modules students can choose two options from three remaining modules associated with this course.

Graduate destinations

During the course you'll have chance to take optional modules relevant to specific sectors. This will allow you to focus your skills towards a new career in conservation, forestry, catchment management, economics and environmental modelling. The skills and knowledge you learn are perfect for working in water management, environmental agencies and NGOs.

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Many challenges facing society depend on the interaction between ecological systems, the environment and human wellbeing. Yet our current understanding of these complex systems is mostly insufficient for science-based intervention. Read more

Course Overview

Many challenges facing society depend on the interaction between ecological systems, the environment and human wellbeing. Yet our current understanding of these complex systems is mostly insufficient for science-based intervention. Imperial College’s Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment Initiative is based at its Silwood Park campus; an internationally recognised centre of excellence for ecology research, and aims to fill this gap with a unique and innovative Masters in Research course.

This MRes gives students the opportunity to work on active projects alongside leading academics from many different disciplines, allowing them to create real-world impact during the course of their research.

The course will provide students with a cutting-edge interdisciplinary programme, providing high-level research training in the latest developments in the conservation of ecosystems and the environment, covering the physical, life, and social sciences, as well as an understanding of how to ensure that research has real-world impact. This will best prepare students for a career in Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment research and possible PhD studies.

Research Project

Students complete 9 months of project-based research training. The projects are designed to give practical experience of desk-based or field research and provide the opportunity to learn a wide range of skills that build upon those taught earlier in the course.

This MRes comprises projects which can be based in the lab of any Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment member (with guidance and support from any participating department in College or in the University of an International Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment member), and are designed to provide students with experience of contributing to essential research which will provide real-world impact on an active project. Fully desk-based projects are also available.

Course Structure

The course involves 8 weeks of full time teaching of core skills and 9 months of project-based research training.

Taught Elements

* Environmental and biological data sources and GIS
* Statistics and programming
* Understanding and modelling changes in the physical environment
* Understanding and modelling changes in biological systems
* Understanding and modelling changes in social-ecological systems
* Understanding and modelling policy responses to grand challenges
* Communicating your message, including scientific writing and engaging with stakeholders

Additionally, MRes students are able to attend many transferable skills courses that include:

* A one week induction course, including a series of seminars in Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment research
* Attendance at workshops and guest lectures within the Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment initiative
* A one-week summer school on ‘Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment’
* Training in complementary skills, personal development and business
* Weekly reading groups
* Preparing a CV

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This programme offers expert understanding of the latest developments in geographical information science (GIS), mixing practical training, theoretical knowledge and an ability to apply learned skills in any software environment. Read more

This programme offers expert understanding of the latest developments in geographical information science (GIS), mixing practical training, theoretical knowledge and an ability to apply learned skills in any software environment.

This programme can be tailored to your interests and career goals, offering hands-on experience in geographical problem solving. A field trip to Perthshire focuses on techniques for capturing geospatial information.

Applicants who applied after 12 December 2016 receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Programme structure

Courses reflecting the industry’s needs prepare you for employment.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Research Practice and Project Planning
  • Spatial Modelling and Analysis
  • Technological Infrastructures for GIS
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses. We particularly recommend:

  • Active Remote Sensing: Radar and Lidar
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Business Geographics
  • Data Integration and Exchange
  • Data Mining and Exploration
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • ICT for Development
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Object Orientated Software Engineering: Spatial Algorithms
  • Passive Earth Observation: New Platforms, Sensors, and Analytical Methods
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing
  • Principles of Geographical Information Science
  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Water Resource Management

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Career opportunities

Demand for GIS expertise is growing at an unprecedented rate. The proven ability of our graduates means our internationally recognised programme is held in high regard by employers.

Graduates work worldwide in public and private sector organisations, such as Microsoft, Google, General Electric Aerospace, The World Bank, British Antarctic Survey, The World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Unisys, British Airways, the Forestry Commission, DEFRA and Registers of Scotland.

The programme is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Related programmes

You may also be interested in the following programmes:

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century. Read more

Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century.

This programme is not suitable for applicants pursuing a career in food science or food safety/hygiene or related areas. Please read the programme description and ensure you understand the nature of the programme before you apply. Applicants who do not show a clear understanding of the programme will not be accepted.

Food security has become a critically important issue for societies around the globe. Interactions between demographics, changes in diet, trade liberalisation, an increased focus on conservation, technological innovations including GM crops, the impact of climate change and new responses to climate change resource limitations (particularly in terms of energy, water and nutrients) all affect food security.

With such a rapid growth in this area, there is an increasing demand for qualified experts to contribute to policy creation and legislation in food production and the supply chain.

This unique MSc offers students the scope and multidisciplinary approach to address all of these issues, as well as an understanding of the technical, agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Applicants who applied after 12 December 2016 receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Programme structure

This MSc programme consists of six taught courses over two semesters, and an individual dissertation project of about 12,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses.

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application

Field trip

The programme typically includes a field trip providing an opportunity to apply some of the principles of food security to real world scenarios. In previous years, the tour has taken place in locations such as Italy, Morocco and Kenya.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • provide a broad understanding of agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security
  • apply scientific information and methods in the analysis of complex problems
  • formulate a research problem and independently carry out the research needed to produce an appropriate solution in a range of scientific or policy contexts
  • enhance their skills in specialist topics related to food security

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme typically go on to work in government and non-governmental agencies as well as international bodies and businesses where they can utilise the invaluable, and highly prized, skills they have acquired on the programme, such as food security assessment.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. Read more

Master's specialisation in Communities and Ecosystems

Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. The biodiversity is analysed and functionally related to the hydrology, nutritional status and landscape configuration of the ecosystem. Ecogenomics tools are applied to obtain information on unknown components such as microbial composition or evolutionary history of populations. This information together gives insight in how different communities (plants, animals, micro-organisms) within an ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent, and how they determine the resilience of the community to environmental stress. This fundamental knowledge is applied in proven applications in nature and water management.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biology/ecosystems

Admission requirements for international students

1. A completed Bachelor's degree in Biology or related area

2. Proficiency in English
In order to take part in this programme, you need to have fluency in both written and spoken English. Non-native speakers of English without a Dutch Bachelor's degree or VWO diploma need one of the following:
-A TOEFL score of >575 (paper based) or >232 (computer based) or >90(internet based)
- A IELTS score of >6.5
- Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), with a mark of C or higher

Career prospects

This programme provides you with the qualifications you need to start working on your PhD and in the field of communication, business and management or education. Biologists often continue their research careers in universities, research institutes, pharmaceutical companies and public health authorities. On graduation, our students very quickly take up positions as researchers or analysts in government departments, research organisations and medical or pharmaceutical companies.
What biologists do:
- Researchers at universities or in companies
- Supervisors of clinical trials
- Consultants
- Lecturers
- Policy coordinators
- Teachers

Where biologists work:
- Research/education
- Health care
- Business services
- Industry
- Government
- Trade

Our approach to this field

Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. The biodiversity is analysed and functionally related to the hydrology, nutritional status and landscape configuration of the ecosystem. Ecogenomics tools are applied to obtain information on unknown components such as microbial composition or evolutionary history of populations. This information together gives insight in how different communities (plants, animals, micro-organisms) within an ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent, and how they determine the resilience of the community to environmental stress. This fundamental knowledge is applied in proven applications in nature and water management.

Our research in this field

- Rich programme
This M.Sc. programme not only puts the interactions between organisms into context, it also integrates all levels of organisation from the molecule and the cell up to ecosystems and the landscape. This combination of experience results in a rich and coherent MSc. programme of Master's courses and exciting internships with state-of-the-art research. It prepares you for a career in science, both fundamental and applied, but also provides the necessary knowledge for innovative evidence-based applications in nature and water management.

- Personal tutor
Our top scientist are looking forward to take you with them on a challenging and inspiring scientific journey. This programme offers you many opportunities to follow your own interests under the guidance of a personal tutor. Radboud University offers you a multitude of research fields to choose from in close collaboration with the
- academic hospital UMCN St. Radboud;
- Institute for Water and Wetlands Research;
- Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences;
- Donders Institute.

This allows you to specialise in a field of personal interest.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biology/ecosystems

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Food production has tripled in the last forty years, but one billion people still go hungry every year. On average 30% of all food produced is wasted in the pathway from ‘field to fork’. Read more

Food production has tripled in the last forty years, but one billion people still go hungry every year. On average 30% of all food produced is wasted in the pathway from ‘field to fork’. With the global human population set to rise from seven to over nine billion by 2050, we urgently need sustainable solutions that will allow us to increase the global food supply while preserving the integrity of agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems.

Our trees and forests face new plant health threats which in turn threaten areas of great natural beauty and diversity, and affect both rural and urban landscapes. Our unique MSc Sustainable Plant Health will give you the opportunity to develop your understanding of the vital role of plant health, applying your skills by conducting laboratory and field studies.

This programme is primarily aimed at graduates wishing to pursue a career in plant protection in agriculture, horticulture, forestry or urban settings, and also careers in policy development and implementation, plant health inspection, academic and industrial research, consultancy and conservation management, and private industry.

Applicants who applied after 12 December 2016 receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Programme structure

This 12 month programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. Students will take 80 credits of compulsory courses, with the opportunity to choose two optional courses. Field trips will also form a crucial part of this course.

Compulsory courses typically will be*:

  • Fundamentals of Plant Health
  • Forensic Plant Health
  • Plant Health in a Global Context
  • Research Skills and Field Trip
  • Dissertation

Option courses may include* (select two):

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Soil Ecology and Taxonomy
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Understanding Environment and Development

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course our graduates will have gained:

  • Specialist knowledge and understanding of plant health, and its evaluation, impact and management
  • Skills to detect and identify agents detrimental to plant health
  • An understanding of the nature and diversity of plant health interactions
  • The ability to develop strategies for plant health management taking into account their impact on agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems
  • Knowledge of the relevance of plant health to sustainability and food security
  • Improved analytical skills and critical thinking

Career opportunities

Plant health scientists are employed in a range of vocations: environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, urban planning, policy development, plant inspection and management. Long term career prospects are strong as agricultural scientists will continue to be needed to balance increased output with protection and preservation of ecosystems.

Our graduates will gain particularly valuable skills due to our programme's unique approach looking at impacts across ecosystems. They also benefit from the applied nature of the course allowing them to use their practical skills in a range of field trip environments with expert supervision.



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Programme description. Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles. Read more

Programme description

Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Graduates with postgraduate training in this area are in greater demand than ever before in business, industry and government.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Applicants who applied after 12 December 2016 receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Programme structure

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses^. We particularly recommend:

  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Project Appraisal
  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Culture, Ethics & Environment
  • Encountering Cities
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • International Development in a Changing World
  • Introduction To Spatial Analysis
  • Principles of GIS
  • Society and Development
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Water Resource Management
  • Political Ecology
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Management of Sustainable Development
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Forests and Environment
  • Further Spatial Analysis
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Understanding the City

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change

Field trip

To experience and understand conflict between ecosystem conservation and human development needs at ground level, this programme typically includes a unique 7-10-day study tour, usually overseas and in the developing world (previous destinations have included South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania).

Career opportunities

Being able to identify ecological economic problems, and apply economic principles and methods to solve these problems is increasingly valued by employers.

Our graduates are working in a variety of sectors, including environmental consultancies; international and governmental agencies; NGOs; financial institutions; multinationals; environmental education and research.

Additionally around a quarter of our masters students go on to doctoral research programmes.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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In this one-year MSc programme, you have the opportunity to learn about how trees, people and agriculture can be combined in sustainably managed farms, forests and landscapes. Read more
In this one-year MSc programme, you have the opportunity to learn about how trees, people and agriculture can be combined in sustainably managed farms, forests and landscapes. There is a long tradition of agroforestry practice in many parts of the world, but recently it has become a major focus in international development and is now at the forefront of innovation in natural resource management. Bangor is a world leader in agroforestry with a fantastic reputation for its research activities and our graduates are either already employed when they start the course and/or have a strong track record in finding employment within the sector. Students and academic staff are active collaborators with international organisations such as the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, Costa Rica (CATIE) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). You can expect to develop the skills required for a research and professional career from the comprehensive programme we offer.

The overall aim of the programme is to provide an integrated education in natural resource management, combining ecological and social dimensions of agricultural and forest sciences, focussed on application to real world systems where trees interact with agriculture. The programme is designed to develop both subject-specific knowledge and cognitive and key skills. The course has a world focus and the University has strong links with agroforestry organisations which means that many of our students have undertaken fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, as well as in Wales/UK. Besides fantastic overseas opportunities, we also have a university farm (Henfaes Research Centre) located a short distance outside of Bangor where many students carry out experiments for their final projects.

This course is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters and gives partial fulfilment of Professional Membership Entry.

We work in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre.


Course Structure
The programme has two parts. Part Part 1: runs from September to May and consists of five taught modules and a study tour. The taught part of the course is based on lectures, seminars, practical sessions and directed study, allowing an opportunity to examine a broad range of topics in detail and develop personal skills and expertise. A range of different assessment methods are used including reports, presentations, practical write-ups and online and written exams. Part 1 must be completed successfully before proceeding to Part 2, the dissertation phase.

Part 2: June to September is set aside for production of a dissertation on a topic selected by the student in consultation with their academic supervisor. Dissertations can be in almost any aspect of agroforestry that interests you; they can have a temperate or tropical focus, and can include field work either locally in Wales, elsewhere in the UK, or overseas.

Part 1 Subjects:

Agroforestry Systems and Practice: This module explores agroforestry systems and practices worldwide and introduces the concepts behind them. Through a series of case studies, the module explores ecological and biophysical interactions in agroforestry systems, and considers the range of social, economic and ecosystem benefits they deliver, including ways in which we are trying to reduce the environmental impact of food production and overcome constraints to food security.

Silviculture: The purpose of the module is to develop students’ understanding of the silviculture of single trees and trees in complex systems. This module develops an understanding of the principles and practice of silviculture, the place of silviculture in the sustainable cultivation of trees, and the role it plays in delivering ecosystem services from trees, woodlands and forests. We explore the unique characteristics of forest soils and of soil physical, chemical and biological properties, how these influence site productivity and how these are influenced by land management.

Natural Resource Management: The purpose of this module is to give students a theoretical understanding of the systems approach to managing natural resources to provide various ecosystem services, as well as a practical grounding in the ways in which natural resource managers can draw on a variety of knowledge sources to inform themselves and others of the impacts of land management interventions.

Research Planning and Communication: This module seeks to develop students’ understanding of the role of science and the scientific process in formulating and addressing context relevant questions, and communicating scientific output to different audiences. During the course of the module, students will devise, conduct and write up a policy-relevant scientific study.

Natural Resource Development: The purpose of this module is to introduce the international development context to students and to give a practical grounding in project planning. During the module, students will develop a full project proposal in line with funding guidelines for an agroforestry based natural resource development intervention.

Study Tour: We round off the taught part of the course with a study tour which gives students the opportunity to see the practical application of natural resource management principles that are discussed in earlier parts of the programme. During visits to areas which are managed for a range of objectives, you will meet and discuss with different stakeholders and collect information relevant to a specific research topic.

Part 2:

Dissertation: Execution and written presentation of a suitable scientific project which is devised by the student and an individual academic supervisor and validated by the Programme Director. A suitable project entails a worthwhile scientific question, of direct relevance to the degree programme being undertaken, established within the context of current knowledge and concepts that allows the formulation and testing of one or more hypotheses. This normally involves up to 5 months full-time work, typically including: 2-3 months for data collection from the field, laboratory or computer; 1-2 months for data analysis; and 1-2 months for writing-up.

Previous MSc dissertation projects and training courses held in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre can be viewed here.

Professional Accreditation

This degree is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) and qualifies students for associate membership.

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The two year MSc Biology concerns understanding the complexity of biological systems, at scales ranging from single molecules to whole ecosystems, provides a unique intellectual challenge. Read more

MSc Biology

The two year MSc Biology concerns understanding the complexity of biological systems, at scales ranging from single molecules to whole ecosystems, provides a unique intellectual challenge. The biosciences aim to understand living systems and to help preserve biodiversity and our environment and simultaneously produce sufficient healthy and safe food.

Programme summary

Biological issues are at the forefront of the technological progress of modern society. They are central to global concerns about how we effect and are affected by our environment. Understanding the complexity of biological systems, at scales ranging from single molecules to whole ecosystems, provides a unique intellectual challenge. The MSc Biology allows students to get a broad overview of the latest developments in biology, ranging from genes to ecosystems. They learn to critically discuss the newest scientific developments in the biological sciences. Within their area of specialisation, students deepen their knowledge and skills in a certain subject. To prepare for a successful international career, we strongly encourage our students to complete part of their programme requirements abroad.

Specialisations

The MSc Biology offers nine specialisations:

Animal Adaptation and Behavioural Biology
This specialisation focuses mainly on subjects as adaptation, mechanisms involved in these adaptations and behaviour of animals.

Bio-interactions
In this specialisation, you obtain knowledge about interactions between organisms. You learn to understand and interpret interactions on different levels, from molecular to ecosystem level.

Molecular Ecology
In this specialisation, you learn to use molecular techniques to solve ecological questions. You will use, for example, molecular techniques to study the interaction between a virus and a plant.

Conservation and Systems Ecology
This specialisation focuses initially on fundamental processes that play a key role in ecology. You learn to interpret different relations, for example, the relation between chemical (or physical processes) and bioprocesses. Furthermore, you learn to analyse different ecosystems. You can use this knowledge to manage and conserve these ecological systems.

Evolution and Biodiversity
The systematics of biodiversity in an evolutionary perspective is the central focus of this specialisation. Subjects that will be addressed in this specialisation are: evolution, genetics, biosystematic research and taxonomic analysis.

Health and Disease
This specialisation focuses on regulatory mechanisms that have a central role in human and animal health.

Marine Biology
Choosing this specialisation means studying the complexity of the marine ecosystem. Moreover, you learn about the impacts of, for instance, fishery and recreation on this ecosystem or the interaction between different species in this system.

Molecular Development and Gene Regulation
This specialisation focuses on gene regulations and the different developmental mechanisms of organisms.

Plant Adaptation
This specialisation focuses on the adaptations that different plants gained in order to adjust to various conditions. You learn to understand the regulation processes in plants that underlie these adaptations.

Your future career

Many graduates from the MSc Biology study programme enter careers in fundamental and applied research or go on to become PhD students. Some find a position as communication officer, manager or policymaker. Compared with other Dutch universities, many biology graduates from Wageningen University find a position abroad.

Alumna Iris de Winter.
"I work as a PhD student at Wageningen University. In my research, I aim to understand the effect of human disturbance on the parasites prevalence in lemurs. I also look at the potential risks of the transmission of diseases and parasites from lemurs to humans, but also vice versa, from humans (and their livestock and pets) to wild lemur population. I alternate my fieldwork in Madagascar with parasite identification, analyses and writing manuscripts in the Netherlands. With this research, I hope to gain more insight in the factors that increase parasite prevalence in natural systems and hereby to improve the protection of both lemurs and their natural habitat."

Related programmes:
MSc Molecular Life Sciences
MSc Animal Sciences
MSc Plant Sciences
MSc Forest and Nature Conservation
MSc Biotechnology
MSc Plant Biotechnology
MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management
MSc Organic Agriculture.

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