Shelf and coastal sea processes extend from the atmosphere through the water column and into the sea bed. These processes are driven by physical, chemical, and biological interactions at local scales, and they are influenced by transport and cross strong spatial gradients. The linkages between domains and many different processes are not adequately described in current model systems. Their limited integration level in part reflects lacking modularity and flexibility; this shortcoming hinders the exchange of data and model components and has historically imposed supremacy of specific physical driver models. We here present the Modular System for Shelves and Coasts (MOSSCO, http://www.mossco.de), a novel domain and process coupling system tailored – but not limited – to the coupling challenges of and applications in the coastal ocean. MOSSCO builds on the existing coupling technology Earth System Modeling Framework and on the Framework for Aquatic Biogeochemical Models, thereby creating a unique level of modularity in both domain and process coupling; the new framework adds rich metadata, flexible scheduling, configurations that allow several tens of models to be coupled, and tested setups for coastal coupled applications. That way, MOSSCO addresses the technology needs of a growing marine coastal Earth System community that encompasses very different disciplines, numerical tools, and research questions.