The Master in Environmental Sciences at the RPTU will enable you to understand and develop solutions for environmental issues. This 2-year degree program combines courses from various disciplines of natural and social sciences and equips you with valuable skills to succeed in your future career.
Our professors and lecturers have strong expertise in the various areas of Environmental Sciences in which you can specialise during your Master in Environmental Sciences, from the molecular level to landscape and society. Following the broader compulsory modules during the first semester that lay the foundation, you can choose from eight areas of specialisation: Environmental Analysis, Applied Ecology, Socioeconomics & Environmental Management, Aquatic Systems, Soil Systems, Landscapes & Scales, Modelling and Chemicals in the Environment. These are provided by the 13 working groups that constitute the Institute for Environmental Sciences.
All students are required to participate in the five compulsory modules (B modules). Afterwards, you can tailor the program to your interests and needs by choosing two of eight specialisations, completing four modules in each. An elective module of your choice, an external internship and the Master thesis and associated colloquium complete the program. For details on all modules, please refer to the list of modules.
With our students coming from a variety of different backgrounds, the first semester is dedicated to bringing everyone to a common standard. Five compulsory modules set the foundations and offer a glimpse of what areas you may focus on. Each module consists of two different courses:
- Sustainability and Global Change: Energy and Sustainability deals extensively with the current debates on sustainability and energy while in the Global Change Lecture Series, scientists from the RPTU as well as from external institutions present current approaches and results of their research.
- Tools for Complex Data Analysis covers courses on both, Univariate Data Analysis and Multivariate Data Analysis with the aim of enabling students to design a study and select corresponding tools for the subsequent data analysis.
- Fate and Transport of Pollutants comprises the courses Advanced Environmental Chemistry and Transport Processes. Students will gain advanced knowledge about the production, use and effects of various classes of environmental pollutants and their pathways in different ecosystems, and learn about current scientific discussions.
- Land use and Ecosystems: Students will deal with the geoecology of different regions, typical land-use and sensibility to human impacts in Ecoregions and Land Use. The focus of Anthropogenic Ecosystems is on understanding the interactions between biodiversity and human land-use, such as agriculture and forestry, and will learn to identify synergies and conflicts.
- In Environmental Economics, the course Environmental and Resource Economics creates and understanding of the interaction between economic processes and the environment and the principles of an economically optimal use of natural resources. Special topics in environmental economics allows students to research the application of economic instruments to solve environmental problems.
You will be able to specialise in two of these eight areas:
Students, who select Environmental Analysis, will obtain profound knowledge and experience in environmental analysis from the field scale (geoecology) down to the microscale (trace analysis and physical chemistry). The modules of this elective subject combine experimental and theoretical courses in soil, water and interfacial analysis, such that students will be able to use their understanding of modern instrumental analytical techniques for development of new analytical methods, planning environmental assessments and judging results of environmental analyses.
Profound knowledge and practical skills in ecological applications can be gained in this elective subject. This includes the handling of selected organism groups for bio-indication and scientific study, literature-based understanding and discussion of current topics of applied community ecology as well as practical experience in small research projects. Two modules cover molecular ecological topics and the associated lab and data analysis techniques. Another possible focus is the conservation of biodiversity.
Socio-economics and environmental management
Humans interact in many ways with the environment, on the one hand they are beneficiaries of its services, on the other hand they greatly influence its state and functions. But humans have also developed ways to manage the environment with the aim to achieve a multitude of objectives. This elective subject deals with the interactions between humans and the environment taking into account a multitude of perspectives including law, economics, business management, communication sciences and psychology. In the different modules of this subject, students will acquire fundamental knowledge of these perspectives on the environment and become acquainted with analytical and empirical methods typical for the respective discipline.
This elective subjects provides a comprehensive overview of chemical, physical, ecological, ecotoxicological, and socio-economical aspects of freshwater aquatic systems. In practical courses, students will get familiar with physico-chemical measurement techniques and analyses as well as with the sampling and determination of relevant organism groups. The practical courses are supplemented by lectures and seminars, where students are introduced to basic knowledge and emerging environmental concerns related to the interdisciplinary subjects of freshwater science and management.
In the Soil Systems elective, students develop a substantial understanding on one of the most fascinating, but hidden systems in environment: the soil. It is the buffering zone of our environment. The interpenetration of the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere leads to a sensitive but highly relevant new system from which mankind benefits in various ways. Soils are at the heart of the now called “Earth´s critical zone”. The specialty at the RPTU is the interdisciplinary manner, in which this system is taught. The modules offer the opportunity to understand the ecological relevance of the soil, its functioning, its vulnerablity towards land use, and the relevance of soil for the economic value of ecosystem services. In the experimental modules, students will learn analytical strategies to characterize soil and its contamination.
Landscapes and Scales
Measurements are performed at the site scale, underlying processes are understood at the micro scale and environmental problems are to be solved at the landscape scale. To deal across scales with scientific insights and research questions is not trivial, but everyday life of an environmental scientist. At the biogeochemical scale, small scale processes do not simply add up to landscape scales and so hot and cold spots and hot and cold moments have to be identified. For the organismic scale, it would be discussions on alpha, beta and gamma diversity and charismatic species. In the different modules of this subject, students will acquire fundamental knowledge of these different perspectives on the environment and become acquainted with analytical and empirical methods typical for the respective discipline.
This elective subject provides a profound knowledge of modelling in the environmental sciences. The main aim is to understand and apply different model types from different fields of environmental sciences such as ecology, economics and physics. The students will acquire the theoretical background of modelling as well as the ability to develop own models and apply existing models. Moreover, the elective subject enables them to critically assess the advantages and limitations of using models to solve environmental problems.
Chemicals in the Environment
This elective subject provides a profound knowledge of the fate and effects of chemicals in the environment. Students develop a fundamental understanding of the distribution, transport and environmental transformation of chemicals. They acquire knowledge on the modelling of chemical distribution in the environment and study novel concepts of environmental chemistry. In the environmental chemistry laboratory courses, they will deepen their skills in environmental analysis, applying state-of-the-art instrumental analytical techniques. In addition, based on current ecotoxicological research, students understand the effects of chemical exposure on individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems.
For your two specialisations, you can choose from over 30 different modules. For each of the two specialisations, a total of four modules need to be completed. Each module can be studied as part of one or several specialisations.
For details on each specialisation and associated modules, please refer to our module handbook.
The six-week internship allows you to gain practice on the job, it familiarises you with the requirements of the job market, provides insights into career opportunities, and can establish valuable business contacts.
Depending on your interests and preferences, your internship can have a research focus or an applied focus. You may choose to participate in an ongoing research project either in an external organisation or at the Institute of Environmental Sciences or you may prefer to do the internship in an external company or institution.
You have the opportunity to join a double-degree program with Brno University of Technology (Czech Republic) and earn a Master in Environmental Science and Engineering. Students who participate in the double degree select the module Environmental Engineering, which is offered in Brno. The second semester is spent in Brno. You can decide afterwards whether you stay in Brno or return to Landau.
Why Join Us?
As a Master student in Environmental Sciences, you will acquire a solid understanding of the natural and social dimensions of environmental problems. Combined with a unique blend of theoretical courses and hands-on practical training, this will ensure that you can analyse and develop solutions for complex environmental problems in an interdisciplinary context.
The RPTU is a medium-sized German University. It has just the right size to enable close contact with the lecturers, while providing a broad curriculum with over 30 different modules across nine specialisations for you to choose from (please refer to our list of modules).
Our students come from all over the world and have all kinds of backgrounds. Interactions within and outside of class will challenge your thinking and stimulate new ideas and interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues. Our students are exposed to new perspectives and acquire the skills to collaborate in multicultural environments.
The Master in Environmental Sciences is located in Landau in Southern Palatinate, a region with a diverse geographical and natural environment. Landau is situated between one of Europe's largest forests, rolling vineyards, highly productive agricultural land along the floodplains of the famous river Rhine. This offers a great place for study, research, and leisure.
We put great emphasis on preparing you for the time after your studies. A compulsory internship in a company, governmental, or other research institution forms part of the Master in Environmental Sciences degree and ensures that students build networks and enhance their standing in the job market. Internships are hosted by some of Germany’s leading companies, several of which are located in the region, but also in smaller businesses and institutes in the region or in other countries.
Additionally, excursions (e.g., to companies and renewable energy producers) provide insights into potential future areas of work. Students can use these excursions to connect with industry. Numerous internships, theses as well as job positions have resulted from the institute’s network with industries and institutions.
The Welcome Center’s STAIR program assists our international students in finding a job on the German job market. It provides information on the generalities of the job market and provides training to enhance the success of our students (e.g., in writing job applications and preparing for job interviews).
Our main campus is located within the wooded bastions of Landau's once impressive 17th century fort. Here we have many lecture rooms, laboratories, our cafeteria and library here. Students will soon have access to our new laboratory building, which will house a radioisotope laboratory, an environmental chamber, a laser laboratory with a flume for investigating fluvial processes, in addition to regular laboratories for chemical analysis (e.g. gas chromatography and mass spectrometry). The Institute for Environmental Sciences also has facilities in the surrounding area; EERES (Eußerthal Ecosystem Research Facility), the Reallabor Queichland, which connects scientist and the public and fosters citizen science, and a laboratory centre for molecular genetics, and greenhouses.
Our Welcome Center assists with all administrative and organisational questions around studying at the RPTU. You will be in touch with them before your arrival; they organise info webinars to prepare you for your stay and assist you in finding accommodation. Once you have arrived, they will give you the information necessary for a smooth start in Landau and at the university during the Welcome Days program. The program includes a free intensive German language course. You will be assigned a mentor, a current student to help you settle-in to life and studies in Germany. Throughout your studies in Landau, the Welcome Center is your point of contact and organiser of exciting events to help you feel at home.
Course-specific support in the form of student-run tutorials for some of our compulsory modules is offered through the SelfiE program. The academic background of our students is very diverse and these tutorials are designed to provide you with additional support to ensure a successful start into your studies.
How to Apply for the Master in Environmental Sciences?
We are looking for highly motivated students, who are interested in working on environmentally relevant problems, using an interdisciplinary approach. As we have many more applications than spaces available, we select students on the basis of their qualifications.
The deadlines for application for the Master in Environmental Sciences are:
- 15 June for students with bachelor degrees from outside of the European Union
- 15 July for students with bachelor degrees from within the European Union
- 15 September for students with German bachelor degrees
Please note that you may need to apply earlier to receive your student visa in time.
Living in Landau
Nestled between the Rhine river plains and the Palatinate Forest, the small city of Landau, with its more than 7,500 students, offers a true university city atmosphere. In the heart of German wine country (the so-called German Tuscany because of its mild climate and many castles), wine festivals are in season throughout the year. The Palatinate Forest, the largest contiguous forest in Central Europe, part of a trans-border biosphere reserve with France, provides excellent outdoor recreational possibilities like hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking, and is a paradise for all nature lovers. You can also easily reach major German and European cities like Frankfurt (2 h), Munich (4 h), Cologne (2.5 h), Paris (4 h), Basel (2 h) and Strasbourg (2 h).
For more information, please check the local tourism website for Landau and the Palatinate region:
Landau Tourismus (only available in German)
Pfalz (only available in German)