Subject Advisory Service

Prof. Dr. Thilo Gross

Phone: +49 471 4831-2526

Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB)
Ammerländer Heerstraße 231
26129 Oldenburg

Office hours: by arrangement

Environmental Modelling (M.Sc.)


Important note on the practical accounting of modules

Modules that are not listed in the module handbook can be taken and included in the degree programme in accordance with the examination regulations. One example is modules for which special permission has been obtained from the examining board. Another, more frequent case occurs when modules from the other degree programmes of the "Environment and Sustainability" cluster are chosen for the supplementary area - the examination regulations offer this possibility.

In order to enable the digital booking of the module grade, the taking of the module must be applied for in good time so that - after approval to take the module - the registration can be carried out manually by the Examinations Office. The following procedure is necessary for this:

  1. You register with the Examinations Office during the registration period with all relevant dataThis step is necessary because self-registration is not possible.
  2. After entering the grades, you can inform the Examinations Office by email that there is a "not yet assigned exam" in your grade account and that you wish to rebook it. The exam will then be manually assigned to your subject account .

We will simplify this procedure in the course of a planned system update, but at the moment this is the only way to avoid technical difficulties.

The assignment of modules from the various areas in the degree programme Environmental Modelling to the supplementary area is done informally by email to the Examinations Office. You can inform the Examinations Office of this yourself.

This can be done when the grade has been entered in the system or when you submit the "Declaration for the issuing of the master's degree programme certificate" (you will receive this from the Examinations Office with the notification of admission to the thesis) to the Examinations Office.

Facts and figures

Start of studies Winter semester only
Degree Master of Science
Duration 4 semesters
Language German (partly English)
Admission requirements Bachelor's degree in Environmental Sciences or in another suitable degree programme (see §2 Admission Regulations (German only)).
Language certificate German for students without a German university entrance qualification
Admission restrictions Open admission

The Environmental Modelling degree programme

  • is research-oriented
  • is distinctly interdisciplinary
  • offers extensive methodological and practical training
  • includes current projects for independent research

Detailed description

In the Master's Programme Environmental Modelling programme, students acquire knowledge of methods and strategies for modelling and analysing environmental systems. To this end, students learn a wide range of mathematical-scientific, computer science-related and statistical methods for modelling and data analysis, management and evaluation. These are used in environmental research, environmental monitoring and environmental precaution. Due to the participation of various institutes, the research-oriented degree programme is strongly interdisciplinary, so that students learn to link environmental scientific thinking with economic approaches as well as methods of mathematics and computer science. In addition to theoretical study content, a broad practical training is offered, with a focus on computer-based work. Graduates of this degree programme are qualified to analyse concrete problems in environmental modelling and analysis. The Master's programme in Environmental Modelling is supported by the university's scientists organised in the Centre for Environmental Modelling (CEM) and is organisationally located at the ICBM. The participating lecturers come from the Institutes of Biology and Environmental Sciences (IBU), Chemistry and Biology of the Sea (ICBM), Mathematics (IfM), Physics (IfP ), Economics and from the Department of Computer Science. This interdisciplinary structure enables cross-disciplinary training as well as close links to ongoing research projects in different areas of environmental modelling.


  • Basic knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences
  • Interest in environmental data, quantitative models and computer-aided methods
  • Interest in interdisciplinary research projects
  • Interest in complex contexts
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • English language skills

Qualification goals

In accordance with the objective of the research-oriented Master's degree programme Environmental Modelling, graduates possess knowledge of the development of models, data analysis methods and decision support systems in the environmental sciences. They have the competence to apply different methods of modern environmental modelling, environmental data analysis and environmental informatics across disciplines according to their specialisation for the analysis of problems in the fields of environmental systems and biodiversity, energy systems and environmental and resource economics. Graduates have a general understanding of environmental systems and their linkage with economic and social issues.

Graduates are able to gain scientific knowledge independently and in cooperation with others and to recognise its significance for society and professional practice. Their qualification is based on a balanced mixture of theory and practice. After completing their studies, they possess extensive knowledge and skills for successful professional activity in the diverse fields of activity of environmental modelling, depending on their individual specialisation.

Occupation and fields of activity

The Master's degree in Environmental Modelling qualifies students to work on complex issues in the fields of

  • Environmental monitoring
  • Environmental statistics
  • Environmental database management
  • Development of environmental information systems
  • Environmental precaution, planning, monitoring
  • Environmental education
  • Policy advice

Possible fields of employment arise, for example, in

  • Companies that model environmental data for forecasting purposes
  • planning offices
  • statistical offices, ministries and authorities
  • Management of small and medium-sized enterprises
  • research institutions

Further qualification, in the form of a doctorate, is possible with appropriate suitability.

What our graduates and students say

Milena Ossenbeck (currently writing the master thesis)

Tanja Sophia Klopper (graduation March 2021)

I decided to do the Master's programme in Environmental Modelling after I enjoyed mathematics and programming the most in my Bachelor's programme, Bioengineering. I did a semester abroad in Trondheim (Norway) after my Bachelor's and took a course on network theory there - I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to specialise in modelling. Since environmental protection has been close to my heart for years, I became aware of the Environmental Modelling degree programme. As a perspective after graduation, I could imagine working in environmental systems research, such as investigating how targeted interventions in the environment work in terms of environmental protection. That also sounded attractive to me in the context of a doctorate. With my background as an engineer, the Computational Science and Engineering programme was also a possibility for me, and I also applied to "Environmental Systems and Resource Management" in Osnabrück. In the end, environmental modelling convinced me because the degree programme offers a lot of flexibility in course selection and you are very free in your specialisation. I also really liked the city of Oldenburg during a short visit while passing through.

The aforementioned flexibility of the degree programme was a little overwhelming for me and many of my fellow students in the first semester. Many courses and specialisations are interesting, but it was sometimes difficult to avoid overlaps. However, it was possible to register for several courses in each semester and make a final decision later. I really liked the small courses and the resulting close contact with the teachers. Practical work and exercises were also an important part of most courses - including research work, developing your own models or presentations. I was able to expand my programming skills as I had hoped and learned a lot about scientific work. The degree programme includes three internships (two smaller projects and one large one), which can be completed both at the university and externally at research institutions or in companies. I really appreciated this freedom and took advantage of all three options. For example, I completed my large internship at Rifcon GmbH in the area of effect modelling and presented the results I obtained there in the form of a poster at the international SETAC conference (this was held digitally in 2020). My participation was funded by the university as part of "forschen@studium". I did another internship at the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf, after which I was able to complete my studies there with my Master's thesis. It was about battery simulations, which fitted in very well with my "energy systems" profile. Throughout my studies, I enjoyed very good supervision and could also count on the support of the lecturers in case of organisational difficulties.

After graduating, I have now decided to do a doctorate at the University of Karlsruhe. The topic has little to do with what I had in mind before my studies - I am now working on the design of a process for battery production and the development of a digital twin for process automation. This may not sound like "environmental modelling", but I can score points with many of the skills I have acquired - especially with my programming experience and routine in writing scientific papers.

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any further questions.

Ievgen Vdovychenko (graduation November 2020)

Ievgen Vdovychenko

My interest in environmental processes developed while I was still in Ukraine, writing a Master's thesis in another subject, information systems. My Master's thesis at the time was on the topic of "Economics - Ecological Modelling of Operational Processes", although I only touched on ecological issues in passing. Afterwards, I gained experience in an ecological direction in my hometown Dnipropetrovsk, where I organised waste disposal and processing in a company. After all, my plan was to continue my studies in a PhD programme at some point. Since my heart had been beating for the German language for a long time, Germany is generally known for good research, and there is also intensive research on renewable energies here, the preference for the country was an easy decision in the search for PhD programmes. In the course of the search, I realised that, as a career changer, I unfortunately lacked important knowledge in the field of modelling, as well as some background knowledge on environmental systems. That's why I first decided to do another Master's programme. The corresponding search yielded two options: the University of Oldenburg or the TU Cottbus. The decisive factor was that the University of Oldenburg had a good International Student Office and a preparatory language course directly at the university. That's how I ended up in Oldenburg.

After a German course and subsequent DSH exam, which prepared me for the scientific language, I was finally able to start studying for the Master's programme in "Environmental Modelling". However, there was some confusion with the study programme for me at the beginning, as university studies in Germany and Ukraine can differ greatly in many organisational nuances. At this point, the lecturers were a great help to me. They were always open, nice and willing to help with minor questions. Above all, our subject advisor (Prof. Dr. Ulrike Feudel) helped me a lot at that time to choose the profile area. I decided on "Energy Systems" because I think energy issues are essential for our future, the corresponding market is growing rapidly and the subject area already fitted in well with my university background at the time. The courses on offer were quite exciting and so I combined both compulsory internships with it.

For those who are not from here, it is good to know that Oldenburg is a "student city". There are various research groups and institutes in the city or within easy reach (with the semester ticket for the whole of Lower Saxony, as well as to Bremen and Hamburg). Research is also being conducted in the field of wind energy directly in Oldenburg. During my studies, I was able to gain some experience at the research institutes "ForWind" and "OFFIS". I wrote my Master's thesis in industry at the company "energy & meteo systems GmbH", with Dr. Jan Freund as my university supervisor. He had already supervised several students who had written such external papers and was therefore able to help me excellently. After the Master's thesis, I was offered a full-time position in the company and now work at "energy & meteo systems" in a research department where I model power flows in electricity networks. Looking back, I find the Master's degree in environmental modelling in Oldenburg quite suitable for this, especially because of its relation to stochastic modelling and time series analysis. I still have PhD plans for my future, but I can also imagine realising them in connection with a job in industry and even know a few colleagues who have already successfully pursued such a path.

If you as future students have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at .

Debbora Leip (graduation October 2020)

I have always been interested in abstract mathematics on the one hand, and in sustainability and climate protection on the other. When I chose my Bachelor's degree programme, I decided on mathematics with the aim of combining my two interests in the Master's programme. Between my Bachelor's and Master's degrees, I did two internships in a gap year to get a feel for possible fields of work and to help me choose a Master's degree programme. In the process, I worked with agricultural-economic models, which was a lot of fun. I then looked for a Master's programme that would provide me with useful basic knowledge for a career in this field on the one hand, and on the other hand would correspond to my interest in mathematical solutions to abstract problems. I chose Environmental Modelling in Oldenburg.

What particularly appealed to me about the degree programme was the wide range of options and the three planned internships. This allowed me to learn theoretical aspects of modelling (e.g. "Theory of Dynamic Systems"), as well as helpful means of data analysis (e.g. "Time Series Analysis"), and applied aspects (e.g. in the seminar "Earth System science for sustainability studies" during my semester abroad in Bergen). The internships can be completed internally at the university, but also externally at companies or research institutes. I used this opportunity to work for three months at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in the Department of Agricultural Economics, and three months at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. I had a lot of support from the university, especially in organising my internship in Madrid, as I was funded through the Erasmus+ scholarship and there were some administrative hurdles to overcome. I was also able to complete my Master's thesis externally, at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Through the internships and the Master's thesis, I not only learned a lot in terms of content, but was also able to develop further in general and prepare myself for professional life in research.

Overall, the degree programme met my expectations quite well and I am also very satisfied with my choice in retrospect. After graduating, I successfully applied for a PhD position at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. My work there is very interesting, and through my studies in Oldenburg I feel well prepared for my current tasks.

If you have any further questions, you can me at

Julian Merder (graduation December 2015)

In my Bachelor's programme BioGeo-Analysis at the University of Trier, I was mainly interested in ecological questions. In a lecture on the basis of recording methods of animals and plants in the field, formulas were already listed in the first semester of the Bachelor on how to best assess the biodiversity of a place. Graphs were shown of how lynx and hare in Canada engage in a constant battle of population sizes, a pattern-building up and down, and that this could certainly be calculated. Exactly how the striking pattern came about, which is probably shown at least once in every ecology lecture, was unfortunately not the subject of the course or the focus of the Bachelor's degree, but my interest in modelling was aroused here. I have also always had a strong interest in marine biology, not least due to a longer stay in Southeast Asia, and so I wanted to pursue this direction more closely for the Master's degree.

One of my friends in Oldenburg suggested the University of Oldenburg and the ICBM to me, so that I could combine the two and of course have a few familiar faces for a beer or two in the evening. During my research, I found the Master's programmes Marine Environmental Sciences and Environmental Modelling. After reading up on the module descriptions, I decided - admittedly more on instinct - on the Environmental Modelling programme and applied. After three weeks, I already received an acceptance letter.

Here I got both the in-depth knowledge of the background of theoretical ecology that I had missed in the Bachelor's programme, as well as more comprehensive training in data analysis with the large amounts of data that had accumulated during field exercises for courses in species knowledge in the Bachelor's programme. Special highlights for me were thus, after my specialisation in the focus on process and system-oriented modelling with the courses on population dynamics and critical states in the Earth system, also the profile module Environmental Systems and Biodiversity. I found the often manageable group sizes, which allow direct contact with the lecturers, to be pleasant. I gained practical insight into the ecology of benthic species communities through a joint course with the University of Bremen and the Alfred Wegener Institute on Helgoland.

Inspired by a modelling internship in Ireland, I then researched the differences of benthic species communities on the coasts of Ireland in my Master's thesis. My work was jointly supervised by one lecturer from the ICBM and one from the University of Galway. The close cooperation with my two supervisors also enabled me to take a first step towards a scientific career by writing a scientific article as first author. After submitting the manuscript and revising it after receiving peer reviews, I am currently preparing for resubmission and - hopefully - publication in an international journal.

I am currently working at the wind power company ENERCON on the implementation of shutdown times for bat protection. Even though I can't actually apply much from my degree programme here, the modelling focus and the Matlab skills I acquired helped me a lot during the job interview. Because I definitely want to return to research, I will stay there until I find a suitable doctoral position in the marine department.

I would study this research-oriented degree programme again at any time. If you have any open questions about the degree programme, I am also happy to help at .

Marcel Kuhmann (graduation March 2015)

After completing my Bachelor's degree in mathematics, I decided to give more space to my interest in ecological issues. I had my sights set on future research work at a scientific institute (e.g. the Helmholtz or Fraunhofer Society) or a possible career (e.g. nature park, environmental authority) - but I did not have a clear goal in mind.

Accordingly, I looked around for non-consecutive Master's programmes that fulfilled two requirements: they should have a firm foothold in the field of mathematical and scientific methodology with a stronger application focus, and they should also offer me the chance to gain insights into a wide variety of topics. In Germany, I came across two Master's programmes that fulfilled my desired profile: the Master's in Environmental Modelling at the University of Oldenburg and the Master's in Environmental Systems and Resource Management in Osnabrück. Both programmes convinced me:

  • the participation of a wide range of disciplines in the programme and the possibilities for specialisation resulting from this and from the flexible module system
  • the thematic and methodical integration in the interface area of mathematics / specialisation area of computer science
  • the numerous opportunities to gain valuable insights into research and development through internships, projects and student research projects
  • the good contacts of the institute and the lecturers to other research institutions in Germany and abroad as a foot in the door for a semester abroad or a research internship.

The deciding factor for my enrolment in Oldenburg was a day on site when I met with students of the programme who had offered to tell me about their experiences beforehand. After the conversations and the impressions of the campus and the city in general, I had the feeling that this Master's programme was the right fit for me and that it was also a well-rounded programme; I then quickly dropped my plans to visit Osnabrück as well.

The Master's in Environmental Modelling delivered on the promised breadth of education: I was able to deal with the application of game-theoretical methods in evolutionary genetics, was present at a discussion with a head dike judge on land use in East Frisia, took part in a tour of the wind turbine manufacturer ENERCON and a wind farm, and wrote my Master's thesis on soil physics at the Helmholtz Institute for Environmental Research in Leipzig.

As a student in the Master's programme in Environmental Modelling, you enjoy excellent teaching: the lecturers are very committed to their work and the supervision ratio is very comfortable. On the other hand, you regularly have the opportunity to experience university research up close. In my opinion, the degree programme is therefore ideal as preparation for and entry into a career in research. But graduates can also enjoy very good career opportunities in business and industry; my career entry as an actuary can certainly serve as a positive example of this. I benefit daily from both the programming skills trained in the Master's programme and the statistical methods learned. Above all, however, the co-development and application of mechanistic models for the assessment and simulation of elementary risks (earthquakes, storms/hail, flooding, heavy rain) are a home game for me as a graduate in environmental modelling.

With my experience, I am happy to help you with your study decision. In case of further questions, please contact me at:

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