Suche Bild und id des Bildes

The Master Programme in Geoecology at Umeċ University, Sweden


Aus FORUM der Geoökologie 19 (3), 2009
Von Rolf Zale, Umeċ

The department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeċ University offers a 2-year Master of Science (M.Sc.) programme in Geoecology.

Programme scope, structure, and admission

The programme has a focus on the Nordic landscape, where courses dealing with the natural earth processes, the effects of climate change, and the effects of anthropogenic impact such as pollution and the use of natural resources are the most central in an M.Sc. degree.Eligible for the programme are students with a basic knowledge in English equivalent to English A from Swedish Upper Secondary School and a Bachelor's degree (equivalent to a Swedish Kandidat-examen, 180 ECTS) from an internationally recognised university with a major in Earth science.

The programme starts in autumn with a field course, Advanced field methods in geoecology, where the foundation both for field work and the rest of the programme is laid. After that the students take courses of their choice for 75 ECTS until the spring semester of year 2, when the degree thesis of 30 ECTS is written. The students have a variety of courses in earth science and in ecology (biology) to choose from, provided that they fulfil the prerequisites for these courses.

Year 1: Autumn semester
Advanced Field Methods in Geoecology 15 ECTS
The main objective of the course is to learn and practise terrestrial and aquatic field methods. The course deals with basic principles for planning and conducting geoecological investigations. During the course, a major field project will be conducted where a lake and its catchment are studied regarding soil properties, water chemistry, and sedimentology. The results from the field project will be presented in a report and at a seminar.Courses of free choice 15 ECTS

Year 1: Spring semester and Year 2: Autumn semester
Courses of free choice 60 ECTS

Year 2: Spring semester
Degree Thesis in Earth Science/ Physical Geography 30 ECTS

Courses of free choice on the advanced level

Arctic Geoecology (held in Abisko, Lapland, 2nd half of spring semester)
This course deals with global environmental changes and their consequences for the sub-arctic and alpine environments. Both limnological and terrestrial eco-systems are addressed with a particular regard to past and present climate changes. The linkage between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is specifically emphasized. Important parts are fieldwork, analytical techniques, and writing a scientific report.

Analysis of Environmental Changes

The course is directed towards analyses of environmental changes and their causes, with a focus on human impact. In order to assess the impact of human activities on ecosystems it is necessary to develop an understanding of the natural variability within these systems. The primary themes of the course are: long-term perspectives on lake water quality (acidification, eutrophication), spatial and temporal trends in atmospheric pollutants, and climate change reconstructions. A project related to current research on environmental changes constitutes an important part of the course.

Theoretical Geoecology

During the course, students will acquire in-depth knowledge in one or a few areas within the subject Earth Science/Physical Geography. Students will also acquire in-depth knowledge in scientific methods, increase their capability to criticize scientific literature, and independently summarize current knowledge within the chosen subject area. The result will be presented in a written report, which will also be defended at a seminar.

Northern Aquatic Systems

In this course, students will study the occurrence and recycling of inorganic matter, dissolved organic matter, and environmental pollutants in natural waters. During the course, element dynamics and the influence of anthropogenic activities on biogeochemical cycles in northern aquatic systems are stressed. An excursion to a catchment, where natural and anthropogenic influences are studied, is also included.

Advanced Geographic Information Systems

During the course, the students will acquire in-depth knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), mainly within the area of environmental science. The course is divided into a number of projects that use different extensions in ArcGIS, for example: vegetation analysis of an area with spatial analysis and other statistical methods, limiting drainage areas with hydrological modelling and remote sensing with areal and satellite pictures.Optional Ecology courses (15 ECTS), provided that the prerequisites are met, include:

  • Arctic Ecosystems (held in Abisko, Lapland, 1st half of autumn semester)
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Forest Ecology

Courses of up to 30 ECTS from the basic level can also be chosen and included in the M.Sc. degree.

The degree thesis at the end of the programme is often written as part of a research project, either in Umeċ or in Abisko.A large majority of the teachers on the programme are scientists active in research of some aspect of geoecology. This means that many courses are based on the ongoing research in geoecology.

The Bologna reform resulted in a major change in the Swedish higher education system in 2007. The up to 2007 most popular 4-year "Magister" degree was replaced by the international 3-year Bachelor and 2-year M.Sc. degree. Since the first students in the new system have not yet graduated, few students are formally enrolled in the M.Sc. programme, although many of the current students are taking the separate courses normally included in this programme and getting an M.Sc. degree. The number of students on the programme is expected to rise sharply in autumn 2010 as the first students graduate with Bachelor degrees. Many of them are expected to continue towards the M.Sc. degree.

The department

The geoecology programme is backed by a strong research tradition in earth science and ecology, both in the department and in the university. There has been a close cooperation between these two academic fields for many years, deepening some years back when they first joined forces in the new research field of Environmental Impact and Climate Change. Included in this field is Ecosystem Dynamics, one of 12 areas of research excellence officially identified by the university. The department employs about 160 staff members, of whom 70 are researchers/teachers and about 50 PhD students.

Apart from the geoecology programme, the department offers six other programmes, for example, an M.Sc. in Ecology, a European M.Sc. in Ecological Management of Catchments, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health. Furthermore, the department offers a wide range of courses for approximately 500 fulltime students in the broad fields of biology, earth science, and environmental science.

The university

Umeċ University is one of the largest universities in Sweden with 29,000 students and a broad range of academic disciplines. Most of the teaching and research facilities are situated on the campus, which lies within walking distance from the town centre. On the campus is also IKSU, one of the largest sport and fitness centres in northern Europe.

The city

Umeċ is situated on the banks of the Umeälven River close to the Gulf of Botnia in the northern part of Sweden. The average age of Umeċ's 112,000 inhabitants is among the lowest for Swedish cities, and Umeċ was named the "Youth Municipality of the Year" in November 2008 and is officially selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2014.

Further information:

Rolf Zale, Ph.D. Director of studies
Coordinator of the M.Sc. programme in geoecology
Dept. of Ecology and Earth Science
Umeċ University
901 87 Umeċ
rolf.zale at


Letzte Änderung: 08.02.2010