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Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy

Master of Science (M.Sc.), jointly awarded by Justus Liebig University Giessen and University College Dublin


Foto: Michael Zysman/

OverviewTeaser Englisch

Do you really want to make a difference in the world? Are you passionate about life sciences and already have a bachelor's degree in this field? Do you like to travel, make international contacts and gain experience abroad? Then you've come to the right place!

The international Master's degree programme „Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy“ offers you the perfect combination of science, policy and data management, complemented by practical experience and one or more stays abroad. It is offered jointly by Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, in the heart of Germany, and University College Dublin (UCD), School of Biology and Environmental Science in Ireland. The programme has a duration of 16 months and comprises 120 credit points. It is taught entirely in English.

Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems. Understanding the intricate changes in our land, air and water requires advanced scientific knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction. During your studies you will learn how best to tackle the global challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource consumption, etc.

After just three semesters, graduates will receive a joint Master's degree (M.Sc.) from both universities and will be able to build an important bridge between science and policy.

Time schedule:

  • The course starts in September at UCD in Dublin, Ireland (September – December). This first semester is followed by a 6-week work placement in a company or institution of your choice (January – February).
  • The second semester continues at JLU in Giessen, Germany (March – July).
  • The third semester consists of the individual research project, which can be undertaken in working groups at either UCD or JLU. On completion of the research project, students will write the Master’s thesis in the form of a scientific paper (August – December).

Tuition fees are charged for the programme. Current tuition fees can be found on the UCD website.

[In the area that applies to you ("EU" or "Non-EU"), select "Course/Programme Fees" and "Graduate Taught Fees" in order to find a table containing the overall fees for the course of study "MSc Global Change: Ecosystem Science & Policy FT".]

It might be possible to receive financial support for your studies through a scholarship. For more information on the application process for a scholarship, please see "contact".

Further information can be found on the UCD website.

Study Programme

Composition of the Study Programme (neue Module)


Master of Science (MSc)

Jointly awarded by Justus Liebig University Giessen and University College Dublin


Duration of studies

3 semesters (16 months) – 120 credit points (cp)


Composition of degree programme

Graduates will be equipped with three generic skill sets:

  • Global change science (climate change, ecosystem research, biodiversity, land use change, resource management etc.),
  • Policy and communication (policy and law, regulation and governance, stakeholder involvement, policy advice etc.),
  • Data management, analysis and reporting (research methods, data collection, data analysis and evaluation, modelling etc.)


The Master’s course consists of 12 core modules and at least two (11 cp) optional modules. The core modules are predefined and the optional modules can be chosen from a broad catalogue of modules.


UCD modules, 35 credit points:

Core modules cp
Data Analysis and Interpretation 5
Designing Global Change Research Projects  5
Global Change Ecology – Introduction 5
Science and Policy 5
Environmental Impact Assessment 5
Environmental Law and Policy 5
Optional module (5 cp), e.g.:

a. Biodiversity (5 cp)

b. Peatland and Environmental Change (5 cp)


JLU modules, 35 credit points:

Core modules cp
Global Change: Modelling and Advanced Techniques 5
Adaption to Global Change  3
Political Consulting - Environmental Policy and Development Cooperation 6
Resource Economics, Sustainability  and Environmental Management 6
Biodiversity Informatics 3
Sustainable Agroecosystems  6
Optional module(s) (6 cp), e.g.:

a. Field Methods in Global Change Research (3 cp)

b. Human Health Impacts of Climate Change: the International Dimension (6 cp)

c. Stress Ecology (3 cp)

d. Into the Footsteps of a Researcher (3 cp)

e. Man in Past Climates and Climate Change Impacts (3 cp)


Module: Work Placement (20 cp)

The work placement module allows our students to gain an initial insight into the different areas of work they may wish to pursue in the future. It also enables them to gain practical work experience and establish contacts with potential future employers. The 6-week work placement can be carried out in various companies or institutions all over the world. Benefit from our contacts and complete the work placement in renowned institutions such as:

  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Geneva
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Rome
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland
  • Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) Potsdam
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Potsdam
  • ICLEI European Secretariat Freiburg
  • Rural Investment for a Sustainable Europe (RISE) Foundation Brussels
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Brussels
  • Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) Barcelona
  • Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Tokyo
  • Marine Institute, Ireland
  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and the Marine, Ireland
  • Sustainable Food Trust, UK
  • Environmental Consultancies
  • NGOs
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust


Module: Research Project / Thesis (30 cp)

The  third semester is devoted to writing the Master's thesis. The thesis demonstrates the student's ability to conduct independent research on a given topic within a limited period of time. It can be undertaken at either UCD, JLU or external institutions.


Application: Commencement of studies

Commencement of studies

Only possible in the winter semester;

The course starts in September (September - December) at University College Dublin (UCD). The first semester is followed by a 6 week work placement (January - February). Students continue their studies at Justus Liebig University Giessen (second semester; March - July). The third semester (August - December) is comprised of the Master's thesis which can either be written at UCD or at JLU.

Application: admission and registration

Application for admission and registration

Application and enrolment for the course take place at University College Dublin.

To apply online go to, create a user account, select "Postgraduate Programmes" and select "MSc Global Change: Ecosystems and Policy".

Application: Entrance requirements

Entrance requirements

Applicants must hold a Bachelor's degree with at least 180 ECTS-points and an average grade of 2.48 (UCD grade points, see special regulation § 26 of the table comparing JLU/ UCD grade points) or better in one of the following scientific fields:

  • Biology
  • Agricultural Studies
  • Natural or Environmental Sciences

On an individual basis, the Examination Board may accept other study programmes as equivalent such as zoology, ecology, geology or biochemistry  and may also subject them to specific requirements.

Application: Language requirements

Language requirements

As the entire degree course is taught in English, applicants must provide proof of sufficient knowledge of written and spoken English if the first degree was not obtained in English. The following test results will be accepted as proof of sufficient language proficiency:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) paper-based: 600 points
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) internet-based: 100 points
  • IELTS Academic Test (International English Language Testing System): 6.5 points

There are also other approved English competency tests. Please contact the study coordinators for the required results in these tests (see "contact").

Career Options

Career Options / Career Opportunities

Career Options / Career Opportunities

Recent global developments in fields such as climatology and climate change, population distribution, land use, biological systems and ecosystems, as well as resource development and use by industry and society, are creating new and increased responsibilities in the complex interaction of society and the environment.

Graduates of this Master’s programme will be ready to take on these responsiblities. They will be capable of measuring, modelling and predicting planetary-scale changes and communicating outcomes to the public, policy makers and stakeholders in business and industry.

The multidisciplinary skills that you will develop in this Master's course will be your best asset not only in the field of research but also in organizations that are directly or indirectly involved in these areas, such as academic institutions, state or local authorities, national or international organizations, industrial companies and consultancies.

Graduates may find employment in areas ranging from public relations to consulting work in politics and business, the media, analytical studies of system relationships as well as environmental research and development. The skills you acquire, particularly through the completion of the Master’s thesis, provide a strong foundation for PhD research.


Subject Advisor

Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy

Programme Director (UCD)

Dr. Florence Renou-Wilson

Phone +358 87 2836078



Programme Co-ordinator (JLU)

Regina Gaitsch
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 38
35392 Giessen

Phone +49 641 99 35003



Head of Degree Programme (JLU):

Prof. Dr. Christoph Müller
Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen
Institut für Pflanzenökologie, IFZ
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26
35392 Giessen

Phone +49 641 99 35301 (Secr.)



Contact: Central Study Advisor (JLU)

Central Study Advisor (JLU)