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UCD MSc. Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy

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University College Dublin
23 August 2012
Biology, Earth, Environment & Energy
Masters Courses
Course fee

Further information

 Who is the MSc. Global Change for?

Global change is occurring in complex socio-ecological systems. Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction. Responding to these changes requires effective communication of the science in order to underpin innovative policies.

This Joint International MSc course is the response to these 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. 

This Master’s Degree programme will train graduates in scientific methods to prepare policy-relevant information. 

The focus will be on the latest scientific insights and modern research methods to address mitigation and adaptation needs for global environmental change. The philosophy of ‘policy-relevant evidence’ is to form the central core of the Masters programme which is equally suitable for graduates aiming at a scientific career as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy making.

 What will I learn?

The Masters course equips the graduate with the following three generic skill sets:

1.     Global Change: Science

2.     Policy and Communication

3.     Data Management, Analysis and Reporting


On successful completion of the programme students will be able to:


·         Understand the ecosystem science underpinning our knowledge of global environmental change

·         Participate in ecosystem research using latest research methods and data management tools

·         Communicate in an unambiguous way policy-relevant evidence to diverse target audiences 

·         Understand and promote the development of policy in terms of adaptation and mitigations for natural and managed ecosystems supporting sustainable livelihoods


 What is the programme about?

The programme combines the well-established international profiles of Justus Liebig University (JLU), Giessen, Germany and University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. It integrates major research groups who bring together complementary and multi-disciplinary expertise including fully-resourced ecosystem experiments and field-scale study sites. In addition to giving the graduates strong scientific training in the interpretation of ecosystem science, it will provide them with skills necessary to participate in the policy making process.


This programme is unique in that:

You will obtain a joint international Masters Degree from both UCD and JLU Giessen, Germany having spent at least one semester in each institution. The programme combines the well-established profiles of these two universities and their associated research groups, working in synergy to bring together complementary, multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge expertise.

You will be involved in active research groups in both countries and will get involved in their ecosystem experiments and field-scale study sites to see by yourself how researchers set up experiments and go about measuring, analysing and understanding what’s behind the data.

You will learn to adapt your role of scientist dealing with either expert (international peer-reviewed journal) or citizen interest groups or lay audiences.

You will acquire ‘transferable skills’ during a work placement (6 weeks minimum contact time) which will make you a sought-after and effective employee as work experience is increasingly being used as a tool by employers for pre-selecting the best students for graduates positions.


The MSc in Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy is a 16-month (three academic semesters) taught programme delivered solely in English. The programme comprises 120 ECTs credits including 70 credits of taught modules (60 credits from “core” modules and 10 credits from “option” modules). The remaining 50 credits are allocated to a work experience (2 months minimum for 20 ECTs) and a MSc research project and thesis (30 ECTs) is to be carried out during the final semester.

The course is modular and each successfully completed module will be awarded credits based on the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). The Master of Science in Global Change requires the students to complete a total of 14 taught modules (12 core modules and 2 optional modules).

Core Modules


·         Global Change Introduction

·         Core Skills for Research

·         Plant-Atmosphere Climate Interaction

·         Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Impact Assessment

·         Science and Society

·         Optional module UCD: Biodiversity; Bioassessment of Freshwaters; Peatland and Environmental Change; Environmental Biotechnology; Marine Population Biology

JLU, Giessen

·         Global Change – Advanced Techniques

·         Plant Soil Atmosphere Interactions

·         Geo-Ecology Modelling

·         Policy Consultancy

·         Resource Economics and Environmental Management

·         Palaeo-climatology

·         Biodiversity informatics

·         Optional module JLU: Applied Statistics and Environmental Informatics; Scientific Presentation in Ecology; Climate Change, Food Security and Health; Tracing Darwin: Evolution Biology of Organism.


Where can I go?

 The Joint International Masters Degree in Global Change leads in both science and policy, training graduates to pursue a research career and at the same time to communicate directly with policy-making bodies.

·         Further post-graduate education and research

·         Governmental and non-governmental policy

·         Scientific and consulting agencies

·         Public education/understanding of science

·         Scientific journalism/publishing


University College Dublin

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