Photo: Åsa Arrhenius

Ecotoxicology, Master's Programme

Master’s programme
2 years
120 credits (ECTS)
Study pace
Study form
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Application code
Full education cost: 244 000 SEK
First payment: 61 000 SEK

No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students.

More information about tuition fees

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This education has a focus on sustainability. The teacher has created the course or program to fit into at least one of our 10 sustainability criteria. For you as a student, the sustainability label means guidance, quality assurance, and a guarantee that courses or programs contain a pronounced perspective on sustainability.


During the master’s programme in Ecotoxicology you will obtain the skills necessary to identify problems related to the presence of toxic chemicals in the environment, develop appropriate problem-solving strategies and learn modern experimental techniques. You will also learn about the bigger societal context in which ecotoxicology operates. All of this will allow you to make a positive contribution to the work conducted at academia and industry alike, but also at governmental authorities and non-governmental organizations.


Modern society uses more than 100,000 chemicals as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, food contact chemicals, laundry agents, and for a range of other purposes. Roughly 40 new chemicals are discovered every hour. On the one hand, all those chemicals provide us with enormous societal benefits. On the other hand, they cause massive environmental damage and have huge impacts on human health. In order to facilitate societal developments towards our ultimate goal—a “non-toxic environment”—it is critical to balance these two aspects and navigate the resulting societal and political minefield. In other words, society is crucially dependent on well-trained ecotoxicologists and chemical risk assessors to characterize, understand, and predict the effects of toxic chemicals on plant and animal populations, ecological communities, and ecosystems.

Our scope: emphasising ECO in ecotoxicology
Ecotoxicology is the science of the structures, processes, and interactions that explain how toxic compounds affect ecosystems. Our programme focusses on the fate and effects of contaminants at different levels of biological organization (molecular, cell, individual, population, community) but prioritizes the assessment of ecologically relevant processes. We introduce modern laboratory techniques (for example, molecular ecotoxicology) and use the recent advances within molecular biology and cellular physiology in order to understand and predict effects at the community level.

Learning through interdisciplinarity and active fieldwork
Ecotoxicology has strong connections to biology, ecology, toxicology, biochemistry, analytical and environmental chemistry, statistics, and social sciences. Therefore, our programme is a collaboration between the Faculty of Social Science, the School of Business Economics and Law, , the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences. We focus on aquatic and marine ecotoxicology, and spend time at our marine field stations during the mandatory courses and, eventually, during the final master project. You will also have the opportunity to meet and discuss with different professionals, from industry, regulatory authorities, NGOs and academia. The final master thesis can be done at our University, at another institution of higher education (also in another country), or at other professional institutions.

Embracing a diversity of perspectives and experiences
The multitude of perspectives and attitudes in our highly international student group brings a valuable element to our programme: the realization that the problem of toxic chemicals in the environment is strongly connected to socioeconomic and political systems. The different perspectives and experiences that students contribute from their home countries therefore helps the whole group to gain a better understanding of the impacts of toxic chemicals on the different environments around the world.

Programme structure and content

The programme is structured in three parts:
•    Introduction: Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology; Environmental Impact Assessment
•    Core courses: Chemical Risk Assessment; Physiological and Molecular Ecotoxicology; Ecotoxicology from an Ecological Perspective
•    Individual thesis project: One year as a member in a research team or specialized courses in fundamental or applied environmental science and a shorter thesis project.

Mandatory courses are highly interactive and utilize lectures, group projects, exercises (including quizzes, computer exercises, fieldwork, and a large proportion of lab work) and presentations (written reports, oral presentations, poster productions, etc.).

During your thesis work, you are part of ongoing research activities, including internal and external collaborations of your research group. You will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and national & international conferences together with your supervisor and be introduced to their contact networks.

Who should apply?

Do you want to better understand the problems that chemicals can cause in the environment and to contribute to possible solutions and ways forward?

Are you interested in working in an interdisciplinary context, involving several biological disciplines, modelling, chemistry, mathematics and statistics, and with strong connections to social-, political-, and health-oriented sciences?

Do you find it valuable to have international contacts when working with the global challenge of increasing amounts and numbers of chemicals in our everyday life?

Then apply for the master’s programme in Ecotoxicology.

Prerequisites and selection


Bachelor of Science (or equivalent) from a university including at least 90 credits in biology and chemistry (with a minimum of 30 credits in biology and 30 credits in chemistry). The course ES1305, 15 credits (or ES1303, 7.5 credits + ES1304, 7.5 credits) can be counted within the requested 90 credits above. These prerequisites can be waived if an applicant has verifiable equivalent knowledge/skills. Applicants must prove their knowledge of English: English 6/English B from Swedish Upper Secondary School or the equivalent level of an internationally recognized test, for example TOEFL, IELTS.


Selection is based upon the number of credits from previous university studies, maximum 165 credits.

After graduation

Graduates of the programme receive the degree Master Environmental Sciences with a Sspecialization in Ecotoxicology.

Successful completion of our programme prepares you for a variety of career paths: further research through doctoral studies; public sector positions at regulatory authorities at the county, national, or international level; private sector positions in the chemical industry or environmental consultancy firms, positions with nongovernmental organizations or in the education sector, e.g. as teacher in a field of natural sciences. You might work for example with the ecotoxicological assessment of various chemicals, the development of more environmentally friendly products, as well as the assessment and remediation of contaminated areas.


The teaching is mainly conducted at the house of Plant Biology and Environmental Science (Carl Skottsbergs gata 22B) and at the Zoology house (Medicinaregatan 18 A), but can also be conducted in other buildings, for example at the Chemistry house at Chalmers.