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Second Year Specialization

When applying to the programme, applicants can choose (or not, if they have no preference) between two specialization pathways: Environmental Quality Assessment and Conservation or Ecosystems Functional Analysis.


During the first semester students are enrolled in different courses at the host institution and start working on their thesis dissertation.


During the second semester students will be fully committed to their thesis dissertation. The Master Dissertation defence will take place at the university where the work was developed and is done before a jury following the schedule and procedures of the hosting institution.

For the first semester, the five specialized study periods proposed by the IMAE consortium members are as follows:


“Environmental quality assessment” - UC (Portugal)

Students will have fundamental and applied knowledge to understand functioning of ecosystems and the impacts of main pressures on biological systems due to human and activities and environmental stressors. The courses focus on disturbed streams, ecotoxicology and environmental quality monitoring with emphasis on the use of bio-indicators in environmental risk assessment.

The programme is designed with scientific modules on biodiversity conservation, ecosystem quality assessment, wetland ecology, environmental toxicology, ecoliteracy and sustainability. This specialization track aims to form highly specialized professionals with competences profiled for applied conservation and environmental assessment projects in public or private institutions as well as for research (PhD, private and public Research & Development structures).

When choosing to develop their thesis in Coimbra, students can have the chance to get a project grant for their second year, depending on the availability of funded projects (to be announced on a yearly basis).


 "Ecosystems functional analysis - CAU (Germany)

Students will be introduced to fundamental aspects of ecology, principles of ecology and field ecology, soil, water and atmospheric key processes in ecosystems, nutrient cycling. In addition to in-depth exposition to ecosystems functions, the training provides a range of courses in environment management, economics, and legislation.

The programme aims to provide the students with the ability to differentiate, to interpret and to evaluate natural processes and the effects of specific human activities on global and regional scales as well as to evaluate the potential impact of landscape history for management decisions.


“Environmental sciences & Conservation” - UEA (England)

Students will mainly specialize in climate change and conservation. More broadly they will deal with issues such as climate change, river pollution, the incineration of toxic waste and hurricanes, and resource management. In addition to core modules in ecological survey methods, current issues in conservation, research skills for ecologists and statistics, a broad range of optional modules is available, including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), practical conservation and work placement, restoration ecology, conservation genetics, biodiversity conservation and human society and ecological modelling.

The programme aims to provide you with interdisciplinary training forming an ideal platform either for continuation to doctoral research or for direct access into conservation related employment.

Note: Before to apply to UEA, students must make sure their University is listed in the UK database: NARIC.


“Biodiversity assessment, conservation and management” - UFRGS (Brazil)

This specialization allows students to obtain a broad scientific basis for their future career in working and researching in Applied Ecology.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul, southernmost state of Brazil, where UFRGS is located, is especially interesting for studies of biodiversity assessment and conservation, as it can be considered a contact zone of different ecosystem types, such as Atlantic Rain Forest, Araucaria Forest, Pampa grasslands, coastal ecosystems, besides marine and inland water systems. Many of these systems are highly diverse and often suffer considerable human impact. Researchers at UFRGS work with a broad range of species groups and ecosystems, with working approaches spanning from taxonomic work, conservation of particular species, species groups or ecosystem types to advanced analytical approaches. Conservation of natural ecosystems is one of the key motivations of many projects.

The study program at UFRGS allows students to select from a broad range of courses. IMAE students will be enrolled in one of three UFRGS graduate programs that are part of IMAE, depending on their thematic focus.


“Sustainable Applied Fertilizer and Environmental Remediation (SAFER)” - USask (Canada)

This specialization at USask is sponsored by the NSERC-CREATE Program (Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program).

Sustainable fertilizer remediation is a pressing agroecological problem in Canada and abroad. The production, transport, and warehousing of fertilizers can adversely impact the environment if these chemicals are inadvertently released; often the case at bulk transfer and storage facilities. These releases threaten ecological and human health and contribute to costly asset retirement obligations. However, developing the necessary low-cost solutions requires collaborative research focused on fertilizer remediation science and sustainability.

The NSERC CREATE for Sustainable Applied Fertilizer Environmental Remediation (SAFER) is an innovative graduate program in applied ecology, where students will have the unique opportunity to train in Canada with accomplished academics and industry experts.

Graduates of this program may find employment in fertilizer/afro-chemical industry as well as the agriculture, mining, oil and gas, environmental consulting, natural resource management, and related industries.

Students choosing to develop their thesis at USask must submit a dossier to the SAFER:

- If applying at the Master's level, a four-year undergraduate degree or the equivalent from a recognized college or university in an academic discipline relevant to the proposed field of study (a three-year first cycle undergraduate degree, in an academic discipline relevant to the proposed field of study, from an institution that meets the criteria set forth in the Bologna Declaration, will be acceptable as the equivalent of an undergraduate honours degree).

- A cumulative weighted average of at least 70% (USask grade system equivalent) in the final two years (e.g. 60 credit units) of the undergraduate program, or equivalent at the graduate level.

- Currently registered in a master's program at another university.

- Proof of English language proficiency may be required for international applicants and for applicants whose first language is not English.

Master's Thesis, internship/placement experience with professionals

The specific programme of the second year offers training and professional experience in private or public institutions under the supervision of the hosting institution. Students will be able to devise integrative management solutions for complex environmental issues on a regional, national and international level in the public or private sector or as self-contractors.

These projects can be a valuable preparation and training in research for future doctorate studies in applied and/or fundamental ecology.

Organization of the placement projects: each institution applies its own rules regarding the dissertation document and the defence. The project can be performed in the hosting institution or outside, as long as the project is approved by IMAE coordination. Whatever the case, IMAE will impose co-supervision with at least one supervisor within the IMAE consortium. This will guarantee comparable expectations on the students’ work.

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