Communities and Ecosystems

The Master’s in Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. You will analyse the biodiversity in relation to the hydrology, nutritional status and landscape configuration of the ecosystem. In some cases, you will need ecogenomics tools to unravel unknown components such as microbial composition or evolutionary history of populations.Together, this information gives insight in how different communities of plants, animals or micro-organisms within an ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent, and how they determine the resilience of the community to environmental stress.

Choose this specialisation if you are interested in

  • How processes within communities and ecosystems lead to adaptation to a changing environment.
  • Ecological engineering, global nutrient cycles and ecogenomics tools for studying ecosystem composition.

Why study this specialisation at Radboud University?

  • Students work closely together with top researchers from the Institute for Water and Wetland Research (IWWR). With fundamental insight in molecular, physiological and ecological processes, IWWR develops novel applications for current water problems.
  • This specialisation not only puts the interactions between organisms into context, it also integrates all levels of organisation from molecule and cell up to ecosystems and landscape.
  • Teaching takes place in small groups and in a stimulating, personal setting.

Programme outline (2 years, 120 EC)

The programme of this specialisation consists of:

  • Compulsory courses (15 EC)
  • Specialisation electives (18 EC)
  • Philosophy elective (3 EC)
  • 2 Internships (2 x 36 EC)
  • Literature thesis 1 (6 EC)
  • Literature thesis 2 / Field course (6 EC)

Research internship

During your internships, you will be responsible for your own experiments, under the supervision of one of our top researchers. At Radboud University, the most relevant departments are:

Aquatic Ecology & Environmental Biology
– Prof. Leon Lamers

– Prof. Mike Jetten

Experimental Plant Ecology
– Prof. Hans de Kroon

Animal Ecology and Ecophysiology
– Prof. Henk Siepel

Of course, you can also choose to do your internship at a company, government or NGO, or abroad. For suggestions, you can contact one of the professors above or the student advisor.


This specialisation contains five compulsory courses. You can compose the rest of the programme with specialisation electives.

Compulsory courses

  • Orientation in Biology and Environmental Sciences (3 EC)
  • Quantitative Conservation Biology (3 EC)
  • Management of Ecosystems (3 EC)
  • Biodiversity and Ecological Assessment / Microbiology of Wetlands (3 EC)
  • Environmental and Ecological Modelling (3 EC)

Examples of electives

  • Ecology and Management of Large Rivers (3 EC)
  • Estuarine Ecology (3 EC)
  • Integrated Water Management (3 EC)
  • Population Ecology (3 EC)

All courses and course descriptions are listed in the online prospectus.

Brand new greenhouse complex

In 2014, biologists of Radboud University opened a brand new greenhouse complex. It offers ideal conditions for studies into root growth, fruit development and the interactions between plants and insects. Apart from greenhouses, a root lab and test fields, it also contains a gene bank and a herbarium.

Your advantages on the labour market

This Master’s specialisation is an excellent preparation for a career in research, either at a university or at a company. However, many of our students end up in health care, business services, governmental organisations or trade institutions as well. Graduates work, for example, as:

  • Researchers
  • Consultants
  • Policy coordinators
  • Teachers

Admission requirements

You are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, or a closely related discipline. You must also have a sufficient proficiency in English. Students from a University of Applied Sciences (HBO) need to follow a pre-Master’s or minor in Biology. Other additional deficiency programmes are tailor-made. For details, please visit the website or contact the student advisor.

Application procedure

The programme starts in September. The application deadline is 1 April for students from non-EU/EEA countries and 1 May for students from within the EU/EEA. You apply for the Master’s programme in Biology. Dutch students can apply via and international students can apply via After admittance to the Master’s programme, you can enrol for the specialisation of your choice.

More information

Student advisor Biology: Conny Mooren, +31 (0)24 365 22 81