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Course content

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.

Visit the MSc in Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy page on the University College Dublin website for more details!

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