International Programmes 2020/2021

Global Change Ecology (MSc) Global Change Ecology (MSc)

University of Bayreuth • Bayreuth

Master of Science
In cooperation with
University of Würzburg University of Augsburg
Teaching language
  • English

The teaching language is English (100%). The participants write their Master's theses in English.

Programme duration
4 semesters
Winter semester
More information on beginning of studies
Your first week in Bayreuth will likely be the second half of October. It starts with an introductory week before the regular courses will start.
Application deadline

15 June for the following winter semester

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The Global Change Ecology (MSc) programme, established in 2006 as part of the Elite Network of Bavaria, is devoted to understanding and analysing the most consequential environmental concerns of the 21st century, namely global change. Problems of an entirely new and interdisciplinary nature require the establishment of innovative approaches in research and education. A special focus of the programme is the linking of natural science perspectives on global change (e.g., land use change and climate change) with approaches in social sciences.

Course modules comprise lectures, seminars, and exercises as well as field courses on environmental change, ecological change, and societal change. Method courses such as modelling, statistics, use of remotely sensed data, life cycle assessment of products, geographic information systems, international environmental law, and impact assessment on land use and ecosystem services round out the study programme. The programme offers the unique opportunity to gain credit for internships and science schools.

The University of Bayreuth provides an excellent profile and background in "Ecology and Environmental Science" as determined by the expert commission "Science in Bavaria 2020". The academic departments provide special opportunities for the elite degree programme, along with ongoing research projects that examine questions of global change.

For further information, see: (> Study > Programme Structure)

Course organisation

Teaching is organised in groups of modules. The focus within and between these groups can be set individually.

Module group O "Global Change Ecology Overview"

Module group A "Environmental Change"
A1 Climate Change
A2 Ecological Climatology
A3 Extreme Events and Natural Hazards
A4 Changes in Aquatic Ecosystems
A5 Changes in Terrestrial Ecosystems
A6 Biogeochemical Fluxes
A7 Soil Erosion and Conservation

Module group B "Ecological Change"
B1 Biogeography and Macroecology
B2 Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
B3 Disturbance Ecology
B4 Spatial Ecology
B5 Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions
B6 Soil Carbon and Global Change
B7 Remote Sensing in Biodiversity Research
B8 Dynamic Vegetation Ecology

Module group C "Societal Change"
C1 Drivers and Consequences of Land Use and Land Cover Change
C2 Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity
C3 Global Economy
C4 Global Policy and Governance
C5 Socio-Economic and Political Dimensions of Global Change
C6 Inter- and Transdisciplinary Concepts of Change
C7 Patterns of Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics

Module group F "Free Choice"

Module group M "Methods"
M1 Introduction to R
M2 Statistical Modelling with R
M3 Vegetation Science
M4 Foundations of Biogeographical Modelling
M5 Remote Sensing
M6 Time Series Analysis
M7 Environmental Forensics
M8 Ecosystem Services Assessment of Landscapes
M9 Life Cycle Assessment of Products
M10 Scientific Writing
M11 Project Management
M12 Introduction to GIS
M13 Advanced Geostatistical Methods
M14 International Environmental Law
M15 Conservation, Science and Communication
M16 Modelling Ecosystem Functions with the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)
M17 Academic Working Methods and Skills
M18 Impact Assessment of Markets and Policies on Land Use and Ecosystem Services
M19 Multivariate Data in Ecology
M20 Methods in Dynamic Vegetation Ecology

Module group S "International Science Schools"

Module group I "Internships"

Master's thesis (students can also use the Master's thesis as a first step towards their PhD)

Teaching methods: lectures, seminars, participation in research projects in lab and field, e-seminars, interactive internet courses, small teaching units, one-to-one interview

For further information see: (> Study > Teaching modules), (> Study > Teaching courses) and (> Regulations > Handbook of modules)

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Types of assessment

Examinations can take place as written or oral examinations, seminar presentations, papers, or written work. They relate to the learning goals of each respective module. In individual cases, the work that is to be assessed can be done as teamwork.

International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Study trips
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
  • Training in intercultural skills
Integrated internships

At least one internship with a duration of either six or twelve weeks is mandatory. Internships can be completed both within Germany or abroad. They can be based in an economic setting, in science, in administration or in an international organisation. Several Global Change Ecology partners facilitate internships for students:

  • internship in an economic setting
  • internship in science (e.g., Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, German Aerospace Center DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK Potsdam, Forschungszentrum Jülich)
  • internship in administration (e.g. Federal Environment Agency of Germany, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation Germany)
  • internship in an international organisation (UNFCCC, WWF, IUCN, FAO, UNEP)
Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution
In Germany, students at all higher education institutions must pay a semester contribution. This payment (at the University of Bayreuth: 107.81 EUR per semester) has nothing to do with tuition fees; rather, it covers your contributions to student services and the student government. At the University of Bayreuth (which combines the campus in Bayreuth and our new faculty VII located in Kulmbach), it includes a "semester ticket" that allows you to use public transport in the region.
Costs of living
The cost of living in Germany, e.g., accommodation, food, clothing and recreational activities, is about average compared to other European countries. Living expenses are significantly lower than in countries like Denmark, Luxembourg or Switzerland but rather high compared to countries like Poland, the Czech Republic or Italy. Compared to other large German cities, such as Munich, Berlin or Hamburg, Bayreuth's low cost of living and affordable housing make the city and the region particularly attractive to young people and families.The DAAD website will tell you what living expenses to expect in Germany:
Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university
Academic admission requirements

An excellent Bachelor's degree in biology, geography, geoecology, environmental science, international economics & development, philosophy & economics, physics, law or equivalent graduation such as hydrology, meteorology, environmental physics, environmental informatics, landscape ecology, forestry science, agricultural science.

The successful passing of an aptitude assessment test consisting of two parts, a pre-selection by means of the application documents (motivation letter and Bachelor's transcript of records) and, in case of a positive result, a colloquy. Both, the letter of motivation has to be written and the colloquy has to be attended in English.

For further information, see: (> study > application)

Language requirements

Applicants must speak English fluently. The individual language skills will be evaluated in the aptitude assessment procedure (through the letter of motivation and individual interview).

Application deadline

15 June for the following winter semester

Submit application to

Possibility of finding part-time employment

There are many ways for international students in Germany to earn money while they study, for example, as wait staff, academic assistants or private tutors, but there are some restrictions. For more detailed information, please visit:


Accommodation for students
Bayreuth and Kulmbach have a number of student dormitories (both private dormitories and dormitories offered by the Association for Student Affairs) and a vast array of private rooms available. Under no circumstances should you assume that you will be assigned a room in the student dormitories! You will need to actively search for a room on your own – either in a private dormitory or on the private market.

More information regarding accommodation for students is available here: Please also read the DAAD’s information.

Accommodation for international guests
All other international guests are requested to register via the Welcome Services Database (WelSe).

Accommodation for short visits
For short visits, we recommend searching for accommodation on Airbnb. In addition, a limited number of apartments are available in the Alexander von Humboldt Guest House.

Career advisory service

The "Friends of GCE e.V." alumni association supports students in various ways and helps them build up an international network.

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Buddy programme
  • Tutors
  • Visa matters
Supervisor-student ratio
About 30 students are admitted per study year, and 22 lecturers teach and regularly supervise the students together with two coordinators.

University of Bayreuth

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The campus is both the heart of the university and a source of inspiration. © University of Bayreuth

International, innovative, and interdisciplinary in research and teaching

The University of Bayreuth is a dynamic campus university with about 13,500 students. Beyond the interdisciplinary research focus and excellence in teaching, the university has a clear vision of social responsibility and entrepreneurship. 

We have a close network of strategically selected, international research partners and have strategic partnerships with universities around the globe. A wide range of innovative BA, MA and PhD programmes as well as our international summer schools are conducted in English. Presently there are around 1,770 international students from more than 100 countries on campus. Focus areas in research include Nonlinear Dynamics, Polymer and Colloid Science, Molecular Biosciences, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, New Materials, African Studies, High Pressure and High Temperature Research, Cultural Encounters and Transcultural Processes, Innovation and Consumer Protection, Food and Health Sciences, Energy Research and Energy Technology, Governance and Responsibility.

Our university has an outstanding staff-student ratio. Our high performance levels, multidisciplinary collaborations and scientific excellence result in high ranking positions. In the 2019 THE ranking “151 under 50”, the University of Bayreuth achieved a top position among the best universities in Germany. We have proven expertise in campus and curriculum internationalisation, which is confirmed by the results of the extended internationalisation audit conducted by the German Rectors’ Conference, a close and successful project cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a number of Alexander von Humboldt Awards for our international management and service

Welcome to our one-of-a-kind campus in Bavaria!
It is both the heart of our university and a source of inspiration. It is where friendships are made, collaboration is initiated, and ideas are conceived, ensuring that our university remains a beacon of innovation. Scientific exchange profits tremendously from the wide variety of disciplines our communicative campus brings together. That is probably why the University of Bayreuth has been able to celebrate so many awards and honours for its scholarly accomplishments.

40 Percentage of international students in Global Change Ecology MSc programme
20 Number of departments involved in teaching Global Change Ecology

University location

University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstraße 30
95447 Bayreuth