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Course content

MSc Earth and Environment

Are you interested in working on solutions for these and other environmental issues? The Wageningen University Master Earth & Environment was born from the necessity of helping the next generations of scientists find solutions for the issues confronting the way we look after our planet, now and in the future. Within the programme you can specialise in Hydrology and Water Resources, Meteorology and Air Quality, Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water or Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics.

Programme summary

Planet Earth is a complex, interactive and fascinating system. Protected by a thin layer of atmosphere, it provides all the essentials needed to sustain life and support living organisms. Natural processes and human needs often clash, leading to a wide range of environmental issues. Water scarcity and quality, soil degradation , food supply , loss of biodiversity, vulnerability to severe weather, and climate change are just a few examples of key issues that need to be addressed urgently.

As a Wageningen University geoscientist, you study Planet Earth and its ability to sustain life. Using tools from physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, you build a quantitative understanding of the composition, structures and processes of the Earth and its atmosphere; as well as its resources and the influence of human activity. Thus, you have an important role to play in improving natural resource management and in removing obstacles to sustainable development.

Your study of the Earth system largely focuses on gaining an understanding of the interdependent physical, chemical and biological processes, and developing models that describe these processes on relevant scales. You develop scenarios that describe expected local, regional and/or global changes and the time scale on which they will occur. The Wageningen MEE focuses on the Earth’s ‘Critical Zone’ -including the atmospheric boundary layer, where flows of energy and matter determine the conditions for sustaining life; hence its name: Earth and Environment.


• Hydrology and Water Resources
The focus of this specialisation is to study the effects of climate change and other influences on the water balance of catchments to support optimal land management when dealing with hydrological extremes.

• Meteorology and Air Quality
Would you like to contribute to further understanding of atmospheric processes and their relevance for weather and climate? In this specialisation you learn about physical-chemical processes, the composition of the atmosphere and the exchange between the atmosphere and earth's surface and meteorology.

• Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water
This specialisation allows you to develop an in-depth understanding of chemical and biological processes and their interactions in soils and natural waters, and their role in the functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in a world that faces increasing anthropogenic pressures. You learn how these insights can contribute to develop effective strategies for the preservation and restoration of soil and water quality, biodiversity, and the functioning of natural ecosystems and the services they provide.

• Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics
This specialisation allows you to explore the spatial and temporal processes that are active in soils, landscapes and the wider earth system. It uses an integrative approach that combines biophysical and human elements to gain insight in past, present and future system dynamics.

The combination of specific discipline training and the Earth System approach prepares you for working on the scientific and societal questions of the future. You can also choose from a selection of elective courses, and we also offer a special variant in preparation for a PhD.

Your future career

The MSc Earth and Environment programme offers our graduate scientists excellent opportunities to develop their career in research or as a science professional at universities, research institutes and consultancies. Our graduates can be found all over the world, working as meteorologists, hydrologists, water quality scientists or soil scientists, to name but a few disciplines.

Are you interested in working on solutions for these and other environmental issues? The master programme was born from the necessity of helping the next generations of scientists find solutions for the issues confronting the way we look after our planet, now and in the future.

Alumnus Nick Gorski.
NIck Gorski came from Canada to Wageningen because of the excellent reputation the Netherlands has in the field of water. He conducted two thesis research projects during his time here. The first dealt with the fluxes of sediment-bound contaminants in a river basin in southwestern Turkey. The second involved the development of a new modelling methodology for heterogeneous flow and solute transport in unsaturated soils. “I had the opportunity to take classes, do field work and research in other countries. It was an excellent way to put theory into practice.” After graduating Nick went on to work for the KWR Watercycle Research Institute in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands.

Related programmes:
MSc Biology
MSc Climate Studies
MSc Environmental Sciences
MSc International Land and Water Management
MSc Plant Sciences.

Visit the MSc Earth and Environment page on the Wageningen University & Research website for more details!






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