Doctoral programme in Natural Science (Environmental Science)

Degree to be achieved: Doctor of science (PhD) in Earth Sciences, Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences; Doctor of science (PhD) in Social and Economic Geography
Standard period of study: 3 years
Type of studies: Full time
Amount of credits: 144 credit points or 216 ECTS
European Qualifications Framework (EQF) level: Level 8
International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level: Level 8
Language of instruction: Latvian and English
Study programme is licensed, will be accredited within two years (according to national legislation)

Tuition fee:

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members; Long Term Resident EU - 2800 EUR per Year
Other сountry citizens - 6402 EUR per Year

Approval of tuition fees for the year 2023/2024 is in process.


The Department of Environmental Science

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary science, which is developed on the border where social and natural sciences and humanities meet. Environmental science uses the methodologies of social and natural sciences to study the interaction between humans and nature to ensure sustainable management of natural resources, protection of biodiversity, genetic diversity, the environment and society and to protect humans from the adverse effects of their own activities. In view of the rapid development of environmental science, research in this scientific discipline today make an integral part of the University.

The development of the Department of Environmental Science is closely related to the development of Environmental science as a study line and science in Latvia. Studies in environmental science started  at the Faculty of Geography  of University of Latvia in 1990.

At the Department of Environmental Science are following  research and study laboratories:

  • Laboratory of Environmental Quality (head of laboratory Dr.chem Zane Vincevica-Gaile, profesor Maris Klavins),
  • Laboratory of Soil chemistry (head of laboratory Dr.chem. Linda Dobkevica),
  • Laboratory of Environmental Technologies (head of laboratory Dr.geogr. Oskars Purmalis),
  • Centre for Education for Sustainable development (head of Centre Dr.chem. Jānis Zaļoksnis),
  • Laboratory of Natural substance research (head of laboratory Laura Klavina).
  • Laboratory of National Centre of forest and water research (Head of laboratory dr.chem. Jorens Kviesis)

Department of Environmental Science have cooperation agreements with Institute of Biology and Institute of Aquatic Ecology.

Department of Environmental Science offers doctoral studies.

Study programme provides academic education, up-to-date theoretical and methodological knowledge and practical research skills in Environmental science, so that the graduates prepared by the programme would be able to work in the institutions of public administration, private enterprises and to carry out independent studies and research in the environmental sector. As a result of broad-profile studies in Environmental science each student of the programme learns the basics, topical matters and methodologies and becomes familiar with the current issues of contemporary environmental science and masters subjects that contribute to the competitiveness of the graduates on the labour market:

Research at Department of Environmental Science

The research on environmental issues in Latvia started at the Department of Environmental Sciences and also presently the department is one of active and leading research centre in this field in Latvia. During last few years major directions of research are associated with: a) climate change studies; b) research on environmental contamination in Latvia; c) studies related to biogeochemistry (on flows of substances at first in aquatic environment); d) environmental functions and perception of landscapes; e) composition of surface waters of Latvia; f) studies on natural resources of Latvia; g) studies on natural organic matter – humic substances); g) air pollution; h) sustainability research; i) bioeconomy. Amongst most productive directions in the environmental science field can be recognised studies on landscapes, climate change research and studies on humic substances. In these fields not only national but also international funding has been obtained and major part of research achievments are. In respect to these field at University of Latvia several international conferences (European Landscape conference, IHSSS Nordic Baltic Chapter conference. 36th Nordic Hydrology conference and others) has been organised with a significant number of participants.

Research directions of the staff of environmental science department have been recognized as priority directions of science in Latvia for a period 2006 – 2009 (Climate change) and period 2010 – 2013 (sustainable use of national resources), as well as for period 2018 – 2020 (bioeconomy, sustainable use of natural resources) and thus the staff of Department had a possibility to participate in National Research programs. The capacity and research performance of the staff of the Department of Environmental science is appreciated including the research directions amongst Research Centers of National Importance and thus starting from 2012 major investments in the infrastructure will take place. Department of Environmental Science has two Chairs. Chair of Environmental protection has strong cooperation with the Institute of Biology, University of Latvia in the field of  environmental  and ecological research.  The institute serves as a research  base for many students  of the Department of Environmental  Sciences. Each year several  students  of the Department  are preparing their  theses at the Institute. 

The research in environmental science by the definition is interdisciplinary, however also with the field active cooperation nationally and internationally is actively ongoing. At first can be mentioned active cooperation with Institute of Biology and Institute of Aquatic ecology, but also cooperation with other faculties of University of Latvia and Riga Technical University is going on. From major partners internationally can be mentioned Tampere Technological University, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Uppsala University, Royal Technological Institute in Stockholm and many others.

The Departament has two chairs:

Chair of Environmental Protection (chairman – Prof. Viesturs Melecis)

Chair of Applied Environmental Science (chair – Zanda Penēze)

The Chair of Applied Environmental Sciences

To provide Latvia’s labour market with professional environmentalists in 2004 the Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences of the University of Latvia established the Chair of Applied Environmental Sciences as a substructure of the Department of Environmental Science. At present the goal of the Chair is research in such fields of environmental sciences as environmental policy and management, environmental legislation and laws, environmental planning (including landscape planning) environmental economics, environmental philosophy and sustainable development, thus giving students the possibility to obtain both academic and professional education, as well as perform theoretical and applied research. The permanent academic staff is constituted by professors, associate professors and docents. To ensure the acquisition of special environmental problems both local and foreign visiting lecturers and experts are invited.Environment protection plays an important role in the economic development of our country. Lately in Latvia’s labour market there has been a good demand for many-sided professional environmentalists having good knowledge of global environmental planning, as well as well-versed in particular environmental aspects, such as, for example, stating and eliminating environmental pollution, planning of waste management, saving and rational usage of water resources, management of river basins, rational and sustainable use of land resources, aspects of EU environmental policy, environmental legislation, environmental economics, environmental and strategic environmental assessment, sustainable development, environmental ethics and other spheres of environmental management.

The Chair of Environmental Protection

Research provided by the Chair of Environmental protection are focussed on problems of environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, bioindication , biomonitoring , and nature protection as well as bioeconomy. Studies of environmetal pollution, migration and transformation of chemical substances, bioaccumulation, reduction of biodiversity, effects of climate warming on ecosystems and optimization of its use are the main subjects on which the staff of the Chair is permanently working by involving students in scientific research. High standards of environmental quality and sustainable development are the general objectives of the EU. The Chair provides graduates from the study programme are armed with excellent knowledge in environmental protection and can work in different governmental institutions and private companies not only in Latvia but also abroad.In 1995 – 2004 the staff of the Chair was extended by prof. Viesturs Melecis (ecology), pfor. Maris Klavins (environmemtal chemistry), asoc. prof. Gunta Spriņģe (aquatic ecology), and  docent Jānis Ventiņš (soil zoology) from the Institute of Biology, and  doc. Juris Aigars (hydrochemistry) from Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology. People from of the Institutes in parallel with teaching  were involved also in scientific research projects carried out at the institutes.  Therefore the study programmes from the very beginning benefited  from close cooperation with academic scientific research. In addition to research laboratories founded under the Chair -  Laboratory of Soil Science, Laboratory of Environmetal Quality Monitoring, and Laboratory of coastal processes the Learning Laboratory of Environmental Indication was founded in the Institute of Biology.  The Laboratory provides facilities for practical works in several study courses and for the field course in Environmental Science. Students  are using laboratory also for research while preparing their bachalore, master degree and doctoral  works. Collections, herbariums and expert consultations are available for students at the Institute.

ERASMUS+ exchange possibilities

UL full-time students, regardless of their citizenship, have the opportunity to apply for the ERASMUS + exchange program for studies or/and traineeship.  

More information:

ERASMUS + study mobility 
ERASMUS + traineeship moblity  

Admission requirements

Master’s degree in natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, environmental science.

English language proficiency.

Autumn Intake (application start: 3 Jan 2023; studies start in Sept 2023)


Contact persons for more information about the programme:

Programme director
Dr.h.ķīm. Māris Kļaviņš

Programme secretary
Inese Silamiķele