Limnology - Ecology and Environment of Inland Waters - Master's Programme in Biology 2019/2020

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The specialisation, Limnology - the Ecology of Inland Waters deals with the production of aquatic organisms, the interactions between them, and their interactions with the surrounding environment. If you want to have an education as ecosystem ecologist with focus on aquatic systems or to continue with research in aquatic sciences, this is the specialisation for you.

Why this programme?

Lakes and rivers are essential parts of our nature, and they play an important role in the global carbon cycling. At the same time, our society is dependent on a number of aquatic ecosystem services such as fisheries, water supply and energy production. The sustainable use of these resources requires solid knowledge of the ecosystem structure and function. Hence limnology has strong links to nature conservation, environmental toxicology and water management.

Limnology is an ecosystem science, striving to understand the interactions between organisms and their environment. Limnology provides a broad, holistic perspective on nature by crossing disciplinary boundaries (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Hydrology, etcetera). It is about how inland water ecosystems work, and in which way they are affected by human perturbations. In addition, lakes are frequently used as model ecosystems to provide fundamental knowledge about general ecological patterns and mechanisms in ecosystems.

During the programme you can expect to:

  • learn how inland water ecosystems work, and in which way they are affected by human perturbations
  • get a broad, holistic perspective on nature
  • study the sustainable use of aquatic resources
The Master's Programme in Biology, specialising in Limnology is the choice if you are aiming for work at authorities and organisations dealing with nature conservation or aquatic resource management, work at environmental consulting agencies, or aiming at a research career in environmental science, aquatic science, or ecology.

Student profile
You have a broad interest in biology or a more narrowly focused interest in a specific sub-area. Either way, you are willing to take a lot of responsibility yourself to form your own educational experience from the very wide range of biology courses offered at Uppsala University.

Ideally, during your Bachelor's degree, you had the opportunity to work in a laboratory and do some field work as well as use statistics to analyse data from your work. Writing lab reports and shorter essays is something you already have experience doing.

A PhD education is a distinct possibility in your future so you would value coming in close contact with current research and prominent researchers in this international field.


The programme leads to a Master of Science (120 credits) with Biology as the main field of study.

All specialisations of this programme


The specialisation in Limnology starts with the course Limnology D, which aims to give you broad understanding of the fundamentals in aquatic ecosystems, ranging from water physics and chemistry to various aquatic organisms and communities, and their interactions. An important component of this course is a one-week field course at the Norr Malma field station (Erken Laboratory), where you conduct own projects to get hands-on experience of working on aquatic ecosystems. If you already have limnology courses with corresponding contents from the Bachelor's degree, you can choose the alternative starting courses Ecology D, Toxicology D or Evolutionary Processes.

The second course is Applied Ecosystem Ecology, focusing on catchments (i.e. the land draining to inland waters) as natural units for management and protection of natural resources. You will learn how to identify catchments and get an overview of natural functioning and structure of terrestrial as well as aquatic catchment ecosystems, and on the effects of human perturbations (hydromorphological alterations, pollution, introduction of non-native species and climate change). Field studies, training on GPS equipment and GIS (geographical information systems), and studies of legislation and applied water management at national, European and international level are part of the course.

The next course, Aquatic Ecosystems, deepens your knowledge about ecosystems. The intricate interactions between organisms, food webs, chemical and physical conditions are explored through theory as well as through lab experiments which are designed, conducted and analysed by students. This course also contains scientific approaches, methods and ethics that are relevant for studying and understanding ecosystems.

The last course of the first year is The Baltic Sea - Ecology and Natural Resources. This course provides deeper knowledge on the ecology, biodiversity and natural resources of the Baltic Sea, one of the largest brackish water systems on Earth, and arguably one of the most polluted. Laws and international agreements between countries around the Baltic Sea are presented, and examples of solutions to environmental problems within terrestrial, coastal and marine parts of the catchment are discussed. A field course at the Ar research station on the Baltic island of Gotland provides practical experience.

During the second year of the programme, you are free to select additional elective courses, or do a research internship in one of the research groups in Limnology. But most of all, you will conduct a MSc thesis of 30 or 45 credits under the supervision of professors and researchers within one of our research groups, stretching from the ecology of fish or microbes to climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems. We can also supervise MSc thesis that are conducted with partners outside the university, e.g. at authorities, companies or NGO's.

Courses within the programme

See the outline for courses within the programme.

Learning experience

Biology instruction at Uppsala University is done in close connection to current research. All teachers for the individual courses in the Master's Programme in Biology are active scientists, ensuring that you will get an education that reaches to the absolute forefront of the respective field.

The courses provide factual knowledge and practical training in the form of laboratory work and field trips, as well as the ability to solve problems, think analytically and work scientifically. Communication training is integrated in all courses of the programme.

The Master's Programme in Biology has a strong international character, and all courses are held in English.


With an degree specialising in Limnology, you will qualify for jobs both in the public and private sectors. Authorities and organisations dealing with nature conservation or aquatic resource management, as well as environmental consulting agencies, employ limnologists.

Our graduates work at, for example, The Swedish Anglers Association, Upplandsstiftelsen and Uppsala University. Job titles include Project Leader, Environmental consultant and PhD student.

The specialisation in Limnology also prepares you for an international research career in environmental science, aquatic science or ecology. Regardless of the professional career you have in mind, the common base is a broad and solid understanding of aquatic ecosystems.

Career support
When you are about to finish your studies and want to start planning for your next step in life, you are welcome to UU Careers for support and guidance. You are also welcome to a variety of career activities and events all through your stay at Uppsala University. Of course, the services are free of charge. Learn more about UU career support.


Limnology - Ecology and Environment of Inland Waters

120 credits

Autumn 2019 - 100 % - Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application Deadline: 2019-01-15

Enrolment Code: UU-M1124 Application

Language of Instruction: English

Academic requirements
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Also required is:

  • 60 weeks of full-time studies (90 credits) in biology; or
  • 40 weeks of full-time studies (60 credits) in biology plus 20 weeks of full-time studies (30 credits) in chemistry or earth sciences.
Language requirements
All applicants need to verify English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6"). This can be done in a number of ways, including through an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or through previous upper secondary (high school) or university studies.
The minimum test scores are:
  • IELTS: an overall mark of 6.5 and no section below 5.5
  • TOEFL: Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1–6) in written test and a total score of 575. Internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0–30) in written test and a total score of 90
  • Cambridge: CAE, CPE
More information about English language requirements

Selection: Students are selected based on:

  • a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and
  • a statement of purpose (1 page).


If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.

Application Fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 72500

Tuition fee, total: SEK 290000

Contact and further resources

Biology Education Centre

EBC, Norbyvägen 14 / BMC A8:1

Norbyvägen 14, 752 36 UPPSALA/Box 592, 751 24 UPPSALA

Fax: 018-471 4689 Fax: 018-471 4687


For programme-specific information, please contact: Brita Svensson or Fredrik Sundström

Telephone: +46 18 471 28 79 (Brita) / +46 18 471 48 35 (Fredrik)

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team: