Master programme  "Applied Limnology"

ID of study programme: H 066 448
ISCED-Code: 851 (Environmental protection services)

Why Applied Limnology                    

Water is life! Humans depend on ecological services provided by aquatic ecosystems, which are among the most threatened in the world. Human activities have led to serious degradation of rivers, groundwaters and lakes. Fundamental understanding of ecosystem functions and processes is essential to stop degradation, mitigate impacts and restore freshwater ecosystems.

Social needs

Society recognizes the importance of aquatic ecosystems. Ecologically orientated laws apply to all of Europe as a result of European Union directives. The “Water Framework Directive” targets “good ecological status” for water bodies. The “Habitats and Birds Directive” strives for the protection and recovery of endangered habitats and species. International conventions such as the UN Convention on Biodiversity impose a more sustainable management of aquatic resources. Well-educated experts are required to properly implement these directives and agreements.



Scientific approach

The uncertainty from global sources of change challenges us to develop and apply science at unprecedented levels of complexity. Holistic perceptions of ecosystem functions and processes, i.e. hydromorphologic dynamics, nutrient cycling, matter fluxes, food webs, habitat requirements, and biotic interactions, are necessary to cope with challenges in management of complex systems. Coupling the chemical/physical characteristics of freshwaters with biological requirements of organisms provides an integrative understanding of ecological interrelations. Identification of organisms such as algae, floodplain vegetation, benthic invertebrates and fishes, in addition to understanding their anatomy, ecophysiology and habitat requirements is essential for evaluating their indicative value for ecosystem functioning and integrity.

Innovative applications

Professional skills are needed to understand and apply innovative methods, models and tools. Expertise in monitoring of aquatic organisms, assessment of human impacts and ecological status, protection and conservation of endangered species and habitats, identification of appropriate restoration measures, and validation of management actions is required for modern river basin management.
Well-educated experts are needed to support society in maintaining and restoring ecological services of freshwater ecosystems!

Contents and course structure            

Students are educated within an interdisciplinary framework of literature review, lectures and field work guided by biologists, ecologists, landscape planners, river engineers, modellers, systems analysts, statisticians, GIS-experts, water managers, lawyers, and historians.

The 2 years master programme consists of 5 mandatory (1st semester), 13 elective modules (2nd, 3rd semester) and a master thesis (4th semester). Total of 120 ECTS will be divided to:

Mandatory courses: 39 ECTS

Master thesis:          30 ECTS

Elective courses:      36 ECTS

Free electives:         15 ECTS

Modules/courses at Egerton University Kenya and UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands (2nd semester) can be also selected as elective courses. More informations about the modules see PDF below!

Mandatory modules at BOKU
Basics in limnology9
Ecology of aquatic organisms 6
Basics in applied limnology6
Aquatic ecosystem management6
Scientific methods  6
Research proposal & master seminar 6
Elective modules at BOKU
Ecohydromorphological monitoring 6
Fish monitoring and assessment6
Benthic invertebrate monitoring and assessment6
Environmental impacts on riverine ecosystems6
Restoration & conservation of riverine landscapes6
Planning and management6
Interdisciplinarity and socioeconomics6
Aquatic plants6
Fisheries management and aquaculture6
Ecosystem modelling6
Hydrology and morphology6
Limnochemistry in human impacted aquatic ecosystems 6
Ecology and taxonomy of freshwater fish and benthic

Fish genetics7
Elective modules at Egerton University, Kenya           PDF
Lake Ecology 5,6
Ecology of Streams and Rivers5,6
Wetlands for Water Quality5,6
Fisheries and Aquaculture5,6
Elective modules at UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands    PDF
Data Analysis and Modelling for Aquatic Ecosystems5,6
Aquatic Ecosystems Processes and Applications5,6
Wetlands for Livelihoods and Conservation5,6
Group-work (Integrative approach to solve environmental problems)5,6
Research Methods & Summer School3,8

Last but not least: Career prospects

Graduates of the International Masters Programme in ‘Applied Limnology’ are specialised in sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems and trained to integrate the technical, ecological, economic, social and cultural aspects of their fields of work. Graduates of this programme can make substantial contributions in the following fields of work: private, governmental and non-governmental organisations, especially international organizations such as the European Commission, UNESCO, FAO, International River Commissions, technical and administrative planning institutions and companies, development cooperation agencies, non-profit organisations, national and international environmental associations, civil engineering, consultants as well as research and education.

Mandatory official online pre-registration for new students

go to pre-registration:

Programme Co-ordinators

Student representative for AL students