Department of Geoscience

Curriculum MSc Geoökologie / Geoecology (starting WS 21/22)

The Master's program of Geoökologie/Geoecology consists of two years of study (standard period of study) and can be started in both the winter and summer semesters. The program includes 4 compulsory modules (24 credits), 11 elective modules (66 credits) and the Master thesis (30 credits). Students focus on one of the three fields of specialization:

  • Biogeoscience of the Land Surface
  • Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology
  • Ecology and Nature Conservation

Each specialization consists of 5 mandatory modules (30 credits). Further 36 credits are collected from a wide variety of classes taught in geoecology or neighboring programs. Recognition of an external internship is also possible.

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Compulsory Modules for all Geoecology Students
Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Master Seminar Geoecology

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Scientific Practice, Scientific Presentation, Master Thesis

Scientific practice is a research-oriented internship within the work groups of the Department of Geosciences. The key objective is to participate in research projects and to formulate a research agenda for the Master thesis, which takes place at the end of the MSc program. Integral part of the scientific practice program is the presentation of the thesis results in a seminar in the fourth semester (scientific presentation).

All work groups contribute to the supervision within scientific practice.

Compulsory Modules in each Specialization

Specialization Biogeoscience of the Land Surface

Physics of the Earth's Surface

This module gives an introduction into the physics of Earth’s surface, with emphasis on processes shaping the Earth’s surface on human and geological timescales. Most importantly an overview of the relevant cycles (energy, water, relevant elements/gases) acting on Earth’s surface will be given. Specific topics addressed in the lecture include: Earth’s surface energy balance, carbon and hydrological cycle and mass balance, how and why tectonics, topography, and climate interact over short and long (million year) timescales, physical and mathematical approaches for understanding erosion and sedimentation by rivers, hillslopes, glacial, and biotic processes. The course combines lectures and computer exercises.

Taught by: Todd Ehlers

Planetary Boundaries

The Earth system has a constrained capacity to buffer forces and maintain a steady state. The thresholds which indicate an irreversible state change are coined ”planetary boundaries“. In the course “Planetary Boundaries”, students use the state-of-the-art of literature to characterize the situation for the single forces (biosphere integrity, land use, biogeochemical cycles, atmospheric aerosol loading, novel entities) and to infer and discuss the resulting risks concerning an irreversible state change. Based on this, the students write an extensive term paper.

Taught by: Yvonne Oelmann

Geomorphology and Soil-Landscape Modeling

This module teaches basic concepts, processes and methods of soil science, geomorphology and soil landscape modelling. Based on interactions between soil and relief, soil genesis, soil distribution and soil functions and their analysis are studied with machine learning methods.
The morning lecture covers advanced soil science and geomorphology basics. The seminar will present and discuss recent scientific developments in soil science, geomorphology, pedometrics, soil landscape modelling and machine learning. The afternoon exercise addresses the function of soils and their distribution with modern statistical methods of machine learning and spatial interpolation using the open access software R. This course thus combines an in-depth soil science-geomorphology process understanding with applied statistical methodology.

Taught by: Thomas Scholten, Steffen Seitz, Ruhollah Taghizadeh-Mehrjardi

Environmental Microbiology and Geomicrobiology

This course discusses the degradation of organic pollutants as well as the consequences of different biogeochemical processes on the fate of inorganic pollutants including bioremediation processes. These topics are discussed in the context of redox zonation, thermodynamics and kinetics of microbial processes. A second focus is on microbe-mineral interactions including biomineralization processes. Lectures as well as students presentations based on recent scientific articles are part of the course.

Taught by: Andreas Kappler, Sara Kleindienst

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

The global loss of biodiversity continues at an alarming rate and is of concern for researchers of different disciplines. Whether a reduced biodiversity indeed compromises the functioning of ecosystems is controversially discussed. The course „Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning” will shed light on this issue based on the state-of-the-art of literature. Theoretical basics will be put into practice during a field trip and a laboratory exercise.

Taught by: Yvonne Oelmann

Specialization Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology

Advanced Ecotoxicology

The course focuses on the application of ecotoxicology in practice. It is a 4 weeks block course, either focused on OECD standard toxiocity testing (designated as „Ecotoxicology II“) or on sublethal markers of toxicity (designated as „Ecotoxicology III“). These two variations are offered alternately every 2nd year at the end of every winter semester.
Either samples taken from an exposure experiment will be analysed for selected biomarkers (Ecotoxicology III) or standard toxicity tests will be conducted following international guidelines (Ecotoxicology II). The theoretical background, respectively, will be summarized by the students. Students will give a congress style presentation. The course also involves excursions to institutions (regulation authorities/academia/industry).

Taught by: Rita Triebskorn, Heinz Köhler

Environmental Chemistry

This course covers chemical thermodynamics in aqueous systems, sorption and partitioning processes of organic and inorganic compounds in the hydrosphere and practical case studies. The objective is to gain quantitative evaluation and prediction capabilities for important hydrogeochemical parameters based on sound thermodynamic concepts. By this, fate and behavior of chemicals in the environment can be predicted.

Taught by: Christiane Zarfl, Stefan Haderlein, Peter Grathwohl

Lab Course Environmental Chemistry

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment of Chemicals

This module covers the environmental and human health risk assessment of chemicals according to the European regulation REACH. It will provide the scientific underpinning of chemical risk assessment but also practical experiences with the regulatory process.
Groups of three students will conduct a comprehensive risk assessment for one selected chemical according to the European regulation for industrial chemicals. The risk assessment is performed stepwise in the exercises and then compiled into a written technical report that will be graded. In addition, each student presents a paper in the seminar on a specialized topic in environmental risk assessment. Finally we learn scientific methods for risk assessment that are not in regulation yet but might make it there one day.

Taught by: Beate Escher

Experimental and Analytical Methods in Environmental Chemistry & Ecotoxicology

The course strongly concentrates on practical skills. Experimental and analytical methods currently applied in ecotoxicology and/or environmental chemistry will be taught, both theoretically and, predominantly, practically.
Within the scope of this module, practical courses from the fields of ecotoxicology and/or environmental chemistry, also from external teaching and research institutions, can be chosen in consultation with the module coordinator. The work conducted in this course needs to focus on an experimental task which will be processed and/or sampled and/or analysed.

Coordinated by: Heinz Köhler

Specialization Ecology and Nature Conservation

Paleoecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Global Change Ecology

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Biotic Interactions: Plant-Animal Interaction

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Plant Ecology II

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.

Field Ecology II

Detailed information on the study contents can be found in the Module Handbook.