MSc Biological Sciences: Limnology and Oceanography

General information

From tropical marine biology to wetlands ecosystems. Water covers about 70% of our planet and sets it apart from every other planet we know. Water plays an important role in the global climate and is a source of food, minerals, energy and recreation. Aquatic ecosystems teem with organisms, ranging from tiny phytoplankton and zooplankton to coral, fish, and whales. Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems are also used as ‘dumping grounds' for much of society's waste and are profoundly affected by global change.

In the Master's programme Limnology and Oceanography at the UvA you will reflect on topics such as:

  • impacts of climate change on freshwater and marine ecosystems
  • harmful algal blooms and water management
  • the role of aquatic microorganisms
  • the biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems
  • food-web interactions and fisheries
  • sediment-water interactions
  • the responses of aquatic organisms to changes in water quality

The topics are investigated from different perspectives, ranging from molecular studies to laboratory experiments and field investigations, long-term monitoring and the development of advanced mathematical models. Among this wide range of opportunities, students select those topics and approaches that best fit their own interest.

The Netherlands is a world leader in water management and aquatic research. The Master's programme applies this expertise to its investigation of lake, river, sea and ocean ecosystems. It is unique in the Netherlands in that it devotes attention to both freshwater and marine ecosystems and integrates the scientific disciplines relevant to aquatic ecosystems. The programme closely collaborates with institutes such as the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO), the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), the Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies (IMARES), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), and the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Foundation (CARMABI).

Research: the primary focus of the programme is research, conducted either within the University, at other research institutes in the Netherlands or abroad. The following research areas are offered to students within the university: Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology, Aquatic Microbiology, Marine Microbiology, Tropical Marine Biology and Theoretical Ecology.

Courses: courses offer students the foundation required to conduct research in the biology, chemistry and physics of aquatic systems. The programme's curriculum covers a variety of topics in different disciplines, including algal blooms, hydrodynamics and phytoplankton, effects of climate change, water management, benthic ecology, microfilms, coral bleaching, natural products in sponges, molecular biology of coral symbionts, aquatic ecotoxicology etc. These courses incorporate theory with laboratory and field work. For detailed information regarding the curriculum and courses please see the UvA Course Catalogue.

Learning outcome:

Graduates of the Master's programme in Limnology and Oceanography will have had excellent research training that allows them to pursue their PhD at the UvA or at other universities, academic institutes and international research organisations.

Alternatively, graduates are qualified for careers in, for example,

  • management and research within water boards
  • consultancy firms
  • science-oriented non-profit organisations
  • governmental agencies
  • education
Contact Person: Dr Petra Visser (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0831 - Fisheries", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0521 - Ecology", "0532 - Marine Geology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography


Venue: University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam , Netherlands

Faculty of Science
Science Park 904 
1098 XH Amsterdam



Tuition fee rates are divided into statutory tuition fees (determined annually by the Dutch government) and institutional tuition fees. Institutional tuition fee rates are set by the higher education institutions individually, and apply to students who do not satisfy the conditions for the statutory tuition fee rate. Apart from the tuition fee, there are costs for books and other study materials. These costs vary per study programme between approximately €200 and €800 per year. Fees 2016-2017:

  • Statutory tuition fee (full-time students): €1.984
  • Institutional fee (Faculty of Science): €13.300

All information about the tuition fees can be found here


Applicants should hold:  

  • a Dutch Bachelor of Science degree or its equivalent in Biology. A Bachelor course in Aquatic Ecology and/or Marine Biology is required for all students. Students without such a Bachelor course can follow a self-tuition course combined with an intake interview before entry into the Master's programme.
  • a Bachelor degree in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Biomedical Sciences, Psychobiology or Future Planet Studies. These programmes may also qualify, but your suitability and knowledge will be assessed prior to admission. In case of deficiencies, following a pre-master's programme of Bachelor courses might be necessary. An interview may be part of the procedure.

Additional requirements

  • a bachelor’s Grade Point Average (GPA) of 6.5 or higher (according to the Dutch grading system). The GPA is the average of the bachelor’s course grades weighed by course/study load.
  • you must have obtained the Bachelor's degree within 4 years
  • you must have completed a Bachelor's Thesis (experimental work) of at least 15 ECTS credits. The subject of the Bachelor's thesis must show affinity with, and advanced knowledge of, Marine and/or Aquatic Biology. 

Application Procedure:

All students must fill out and submit the faculty's online application form, along with the required documents. Students with a previous Dutch education, must also fill out the general application form at Studielink, besides the faculty application form.

Selection criteria 

Up to, but no more than, 110 students are admitted to the Master’s Programme as a whole. If more than the maximum number of candidates are found suitable, candidates will be selected on (in random order):

  • Study programme
  • GPA score
  • Study progress Bachelor’s programme
  • Subject of Bachelor’s thesis
  • Motivation

Additional information for international students

International applicants must also fulfil other general entry requirements set by the Faculty of Science regarding academic background, academic average and proficiency in English. Information for international students

Application deadlines for international students

Students starting their programme in September:

  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 February (advised deadline)
  • EU/EEA students: 1 May (if you wish to apply later then 1 May, then please first contact the faculty)

Students starting their programme in February*: 

  • Non-EU/EEA: 1 October (advised deadline)
  • EU/EEA: 1 December (if you wish to apply later then 1 December, then please first contact the faculty)

Grant Opportunities:

The Faculty of Science aims to attract talented students to its international classrooms. It offers several scholarship programmes designed to offer - both Dutch and international - motivated students the opportunity to pursue a Science degree at the University of Amsterdam. More information can be found here


Limnology and Oceanography is a track of the accredited degree programme Biological Sciences. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Biological Sciences and the title Master of Science (MSc). 


Academic level: Master

Qualification: Master of Science

Occupations (not validated):
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