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Ecosystem Services (2024-2025)


Admission requirements

This course is for students from MSc Biology, MSc Governance of Sustainability, and MSc Industrial Ecology.


Ecosystem services is a framework that allows analysis, quantification and optimization of the interface between biodiversity/ecosystem functioning and societal demands. This course will provide students with a theoretical knowledge on the concept of ecosystem services, related concepts, and information on practical applications of these concepts.

The first part of the course will focus on basic principles of ecosystem services and their classification. Next, we will discuss the relations between ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. This part will include key concepts needed to understand and quantify ecosystem functioning, the role of organisms in general and biodiversity in particular therein as well as the impacts of trade-offs and feedbacks on ecosystem processes. The third part of the course will focus on the societal dimension of ecosystem services. Methods, indicators and instruments available to assess the interactions of nature and human society are discussed and applied. We will assess the different ways to calculate the benefits of provided ecosystem services, methods for mapping of ecosystem services, and tools to manage and optimize ecosystem services as dependent on local societal demands.

As part of the course, students will conduct a group research project, within which the ecosystem services of a particular case study will be analysed. Each group will work with a different case study.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students can:
1. define and discuss important principles, characteristics and instruments related to the provision of ecosystem services;
2. describe and discuss different methods used to quantify, model and value ecosystem services
3. discuss different viewpoints within the biodiversity conservation vs. ecosystem services debate and reflect on them;
4. characterize the relationships between ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services and societal demands;
5. evaluate the impacts of trade-offs, feedbacks, spatiotemporal arrangements and stakeholders’ preferences for perceived ecosystem services;
6. critically evaluate approaches to manage ecosystems and to optimize resources availability in light of ecosystem services concepts;
7. apply ecosystem services concepts within a multidisciplinary setting;
8.critically discuss, debate in a constructive way, and report on issues involved in the concept of and provision of ecosystem services from multiple points of view.


The detailed schedule will be published on Brightspace.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

A variety of teaching methods will be used. The main mode of instruction will centre around seminar-style/dynamic lectures and include short videos and examples for real life situations that will be discussed during the lectures. Group debates will be organised, aiming at a full engagement of all students. The course also includes several applied sessions.
In addition, students are required to complete a group assignment. To facilitate completion of these assignments, there will be some time set aside before or after the lectures to discuss progress on the group assignment. The remainder of the work is conducted outside class hours and will constitute about half of the time investment for the course.
Attendance is compulsory for students.

Assessment method

  • Exam (50%)

  • Poster (group work, 15%)

  • Final presentation (group work, 35%)

Minimum grade:
Courses require a minimum, unrounded 5.5 grade to complete.

If a course has 2 or more written partial exams, the minimum grade only applies to the weighted average of the exams.
For partial grades from components other than exams (e.g. practicals, seminars, writing assignments), the bottom grade does apply to the individual components.

Please refer to the Student Charter for an overview of regulations.

Reading list

Lectures will be accompanied by 1 or 2 relevant articles each, which are required reading.


All students have to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to register your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Enrolling is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


Coordinator: Roy Remme
Email: Roy Remme


Inspection and feedback on the examination to be announced