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Terrestrial Ecosystems, Short Course

  • Application Deadline
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University rank #501 (WUR) Online
The Terrestrial Ecosystems programme offered by the Open University UK considers the interactions between terrestrial organisms and their environments – that together form ecosystems, ranging from simple microbial communities to tropical rainforests. We could even consider Earth as a whole an ecosystem.


The Terrestrial Ecosystems programme offered by the Open University UK will introduce you to key ecosystem concepts, and develop your understanding of the stability and resilience of ecosystems to disturbances such as disease and pollution. You’ll learn how ecosystem function depends on exchanges of water, energy and nutrients; and gain practical experience with current research techniques, including real-time monitoring and computer modelling. Finally, you’ll gain experience in writing professional-style reports on ecological systems.

Understanding the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems is the key to explaining how life on Earth has persisted in the past and how it might respond to change in the future. Ecosystem science takes a holistic view of organisms and the environment. The module reflects that view, illustrating the importance of interactions between the elements of ecosystems in determining the properties of the system as a whole.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Part-time
  • Credits
    30 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

The module is composed of four blocks that take you progressively from basic systems and processes up to the complexity of the global scale. 

  • An introductory block defines what the term ‘ecosystem’ means and presents a range of examples, describing their biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components. 
  • The second block addresses the cycling of energy, water, carbon and inorganic nutrients through these systems. 
  • The third block explores the stability and resilience of ecosystems to both natural and human-induced disturbances such as fire, disease and environmental change. 
  • The final block looks at our planet as a whole to investigate the interdependence of the sub-systems within it.

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

  • Environmental science (S206 or SXF206), or the discontinued module S216
  • Questions in science (S111), Science:concepts and practice (S112), Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116), or one of the discontinued modules S103 or S104; plus an OU level 2 science module

Tuition Fee


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