Environmental Studies
This is the first MOOC to teach Landscape Ecology. Participants learn theory, methods and tools to understand the landscapes we live in and to solve landscape-related environmental problems. This self-study course is not actively moderated. You can view the course for free, but questions will not be answered and there is no guarantee that the content will be available or updated.

Course Details

Language English
Duration 14 week
Effort 2-4 hours/week

What is a landscape? How has it evolved? How do we perceive landscapes? What properties are required to make us feel at home? Are you interested in these topics and want to understand how landscapes function? Then this is the course for you! We will present the discipline of Landscape Ecology, where natural and social sciences meet. You will realize how innovative and collaborative approaches used in Landscape Ecology allow land managers, planners and the public to shape landscapes for future societies. We will teach you the modern tools of Landscape Ecology enabling you to address fundamental research questions. You will also get valuable practical advice in solving existing real landscape issues.Leading Landscape Ecology professors will present case studies from around the world, highlighting tools and methods in Landscape Ecology and how they are used to solve environmental problems.

Unit 1 Landscape Ecology
Foundations This unit introduces you to the definitions and important concepts of Landscape Ecology. It also explores the forces that shape our landscapes.

Unit 2 Land System Modelling
This unit focuses on quantitative assessments and the modelling of landscapes, mostly from a natural science perspective.

Unit 3 Landscape and Society
This unit focuses on the socio-economic aspects of landscape science and the interface between people and the environment.

What you will learn

What you'll learn

  • Methods for the valuation of landscapes using the ecosystem service paradigm

  • How to quantify landscape attributes using landscape metrics

  • Methods to assess user conflicts in ecologically sensitive landscapes

  • How to use satellite data to detect landscape changes

  • Philosophical aspects of landscapes, land ethics and conservation

  • Theories of landscape perception and place attachment

  • Ecology in the context of urban landscapes

  • Statistical analysis with R

  • How to work with spatial data and GIS


Unit 1 Landscape Ecology Foundations

1.1 Introduction to Landscape Ecology
1.2 Drivers of Landscape Patterns

Unit 2 Land System Modelling

2.1 Theory: Landscape Modelling
2.2 Case Study: Oil Exploration and Rare Plant Conservation
2.3 Theory: Landscape Metrics
2.4 Case Study: The Impacts of Transport Infrastructure in Iran on Wildlife Habitat
2.5 Theory: Remote Sensing
2.6 Case Study: Urbanisation in the Maldives
2.7 Case Study: Coral Bleaching in the Maldives (optional)

Unit 3 Landscape and Society

3.1 Theory: Landscape Perception
3.2 Case study: Renewable Energy and Landscape Conflicts
3.3 Theory: Ecosystem Services and Valuation
3.4 Case study: Land Ethics
3.5 Theory: Urban Ecology
3.6 Case study: Urban Ecology in Bangalore

Course instructors

Felix Kienast

Felix Kienast has been Adjunct Professor for Landscape Ecology at the Department of Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich since March 2007. He holds a PhD in Geography from University of Zurich. In the 1980s he pioneered Landscape modeling research at the …

Gregor Martius

Gregor Martius holds a Master Degree in Environmental Science and in Software Engineering. He has specialized in the design and development of innovative educational projects. For this MOOC on Landscape Ecology he has contributed to the course design, the…

Harini Nagendra

Harini Nagendra is a Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India. She is an ecologist with over 25 years of experience working in the global south. Her main focus of interest is to understand when and why humans act as positive…

Janet Silbernagel

Janet Silbernagel is a professor for landscape ecology with a design background, specializing in landscape conservation strategies, applying landscape ecological theory, scenario modeling, and geospatial analyses. She is director of professional graduate …

Josef Senn

Josef Senn is a researcher at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, and a Lecturer at ETH Zurich at the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences. His main research interests are in in the fields of plant-herbivore interactions, wildli…

Loïc Pellissier

Loïc Pellissier has been Assistant Professor (with Tenure Track) of Landscape Ecology at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems at ETH Zurich and at WSL since July 2015. Loïc Pellissier studied at the University of Lausanne and completed his PhD in 2012.…

Selina Gosteli

Selina Gosteli is currently finishing her master studies of spatial planning at ETH Zurich. Before this she studied environmental sciences in my bachelors and that’s where she first learned about landscape ecology. Landscapes are still an important part o…

Shekoufeh Nematollahi

Shekoufeh Nematollahi is a PhD student of Environmental Sciences and Land Use Planning at Isfahan University of Technology (IUT), Iran. In herPhD thesis she assesses the ecological impacts of road networks on natural habitats based ecosystem services mode…

Sima Fakheran

Dr. Sima Fakheran is Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at Isfahan University of Technology, Iran. She is Vice President of International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE). She did an outstanding job in setting up the Iranian regional ch…

Thomas C. Edwards

Thomas Edwards is a Research Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and a Professor in the Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University. As a professor at Utah State University, he teaches courses on research design and analysis. Profes…

ETH Zurich

Freedom and individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-mindedness: ETH Zurich stands on a bedrock of true Swiss values. Our university for science and technology dates back to the year 1855, when the founders of modern-day Switzerland crea…

58 instructors