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Environmental Modelling and Data Sciences


We are living in an age of data: sensors, satellites and stations record environmental states around the world, in many systems.

Environmental Modelling and Data Science aims at equipping the students with a wide and relevant range of computer-based skills to address research and application challenges in environmental science. Ever-larger data sets from automatised data collections (remote sensing, omics) and large research and public data collections (weather stations, iNaturalist, ebird) require appropriate data science and modelling competences. As these methods are in constant flux, the profile Environmental Modelling and Data Science (EMDS) develops fundamental skills in statistics and programming and combines them with concrete studies and analyses.

Important facts about this study profile

Language: EnglishEMDS2

Teaching form: on-campus

Pace of study: fulltime

Study location: Freiburg

Start: only in winter term

Duration: 4 Semester

Application periode: march 20th - may 15th

ECTS: 120 ECTS (80ECTS modules, 10 ECTS Internship, 30ECTS Thesis)

Costs: 161 semester fees, 1.500€ study fees (only non-EU students!)


  • Uses process models of environmental systems and statistical, data-driven approaches.
  • Teaching in R and Python.
  • Profile track is embedded in a Master programme of environmental topics and interests.


Program overview Icon Finger.png pdf

 Studienverlauf EMDS.jpg

Module details

1)      Ecosystem Functioning

    • Background knowledge on important processes in ecosystems
    • overview of ecological approaches and systems
    • link to other profile tracks, and to their students

2)      Environmental Statistics

    • introductory module beyond multiple regression
    • builds on and extends statistical knowledge and its application
    • standard machine-learning approaches in R or Python
    • joint module with students from other profile tracks

3)      Environmental monitoring, data analysis and visualisation

    • automatised data handling
    • data based setup and management
    • data-wrangling and related visualisation

4)      Earth System Modelling

    • formulating processes as ODEs
    • simulating (coupled) (partial) DEs using R/Python
    • programming (modules of) a simple ecosystem model

5)      Applied Land Surface Modelling

    • linking ecosystem models to remote sensing
    • parameterisation of land-surface models
    • scenario analysis with land-surface models

6)      Remote Sensing & Geoinformatics  

    • obtaining and processing remote sensing data
    • using open satellite data to quantify environmental processes and states
    • automatised big-data processing

7)      Modelling Environmental Systems

    • handling large models for environmental systems
    • sensitivity analysis and model application
    • examples from agriculture and forestry

8)      Bioinformatics

    • acquiring omics data from data bases and services
    • analytical pipelines for omics data
    • combining omics data to address environmental questions

9)      Advanced Statistics

    • generalised mixed-effect models, analysis of temporally/spatially correlated data
    • opt. advanced machine learning: validation techniques, error propagation
    • opt. neural network architectures and their application

10)   Capstone Project

    • practicing collaboration with applied environmental scientists
    • joint project with forestry, hydrology or environmental science students
    • reproducing and re-evaluating published (process or statistical) modelling studies


EMDS4Target Group

Students with a BSc in environmental or natural science or engineering, who want to develop the skills required as a modeller and data scientist in the environmental sciences. An affinity and knowledge for statistics and data should be present. Basic knowledge of R or Python is assumed. (GLM: multiple regression for non-normal data, reading in data, plotting, simple data wrangling, simple statistical analyses, key concepts and practice with raster and vector data)

Career Opportunities

Environmental data, and their link to environmental process models, are at the heart of both academic and administrative work. Geological, hydrological, biological agencies have huge difficulties in keeping up with the development of new methods and require data scientists with understanding of typical environmental data and their context.

In academia, the number of automatised data collections is continuously increasing, making data handling and analysis a central skill. While the actual scientific question comes with knowledge of the field, methods required for addressing these questions build on the content of this profile track.





* Degree with grade point average of at least 2.5
* English C1
* 50 ECTS in natural sciences and ecology
* 20 ECTS in statistics and geomatics
* Knowledge of a higher programming language


Application periode: March 20th - May 15th

Application portal: HISinOne

further information:  "Application"

Coordinator & Contact


Prof. Dr. Carsten Dormann

Department of Biometry and Environmental System Analysis