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MSc - Earth Surface and Water

Utrecht University    Geosciences

Full time See Course MSc 2 years full time

About the course


The Master’s programme in Earth Surface and Water involves the study of natural and human-induced physical and geochemical processes, patterns, and dynamics of the Earth’s continental and coastal systems. This two-year programme provides you with knowledge that is essential to manage the planet sustainably, guarantee the availability of natural resources for future generations, and understand and avert natural hazards.

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Entry Requirements

The programme Earth Surface and Water is open to students with a Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject (e.g. earth sciences, natural sciences, physics, physical geography, civil engineering, applied mathematics).
With regard to the educational requirements you should possess the following knowledge and skills:

Geology and geomorphology; the understanding of processes at different spatial and temporal scales.
Natural processes (earth system processes in soil, water, atmosphere, ecosystems).
Mathematics (calculus -i.e. differential equations, integration, differentiation- and linear algebra).
Physics, classical mechanics (including stability, dynamics of linear and rotational movement, waves and simple harmonic motion).

See website for details.

 Course Content

Where is Utrecht University


Student Profile(s)

Jessica Bergsma


"I recently graduated from the Master’s programme in Earth Surface and Water, where I specialised in coastal dynamics and river systems. In the last semester of my studies I did an internship at Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. After my internship, I was offered a permanent position at their coastal and river department, where a vibrant team of specialists, advisors and project managers is working on coastal and river challenges, both in the Netherlands and abroad. For me a workweek is never the same, since every project is unique and projects have different lead times. For example, I am now working together with a team on the MIRT-research project ‘Sustainable riverbed of the Rhine branches’ for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and Rijkswaterstaat. We are investigating the different options for interventions in the summer bed of the Rhine branches on a short-term and long-term time scale to stop the long-term autonomous erosion of the riverbed. We are doing this by incorporating different interventions in the morphological model, such as dredging, sediment nourishment and groyne adaptions, after which we look at the morphological response of the river. Our work includes exploring the various interventions possible in a river and the modelling itself. I gained the knowledge about the interventions and about the modelling during the Master’s programme."


Selection Criteria
Eligible candidates are selected for a scholarship on the basis of the following criteria:

- Academic excellence and promise in the proposed field of study;
- The academic quality and results of preceding qualifications, as evidenced by proof of belonging to the top 10% of the class, grades, test scores, a writing sample, letters of recommendation;
- The quality and relevance of the motivation letter for the Master’s programme (academic content, intercultural and communication skills, personal motivation);
- The quality of the application for the Master’s programme itself (completeness, accuracy, consistency).

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition fee or Tuition fee plus living expenses (€11,000)


- Belong to the top 10% of your graduating class
- Hold a non-EU/EEA passport and not be eligible for support under the Dutch system of study grants and loans
- Have completed your secondary school and/or Bachelor degree outside the Netherlands
- Have applied for one of the participating international master’s programme with a start date of September.

Application Procedure


Your application will be assessed on the following criteria:
- Academic background as demonstrated in your application to the Master’s programme
- Your motivation explaining the relevance of your time in the Netherlands and at Utrecht University to your future goals
- The quality and feasibility of your financial plan

Value of Scholarship(s)

€ 5,000


- Not hold an EU/EEA passport and not be eligible for support under the Dutch system of study grants and loans
- Never before have been enrolled at an educational institution in the Netherlands
- Have applied for an international master’s programme at Utrecht University
- Meet the specific entry requirements of the programme

Application Procedure

For an overview of the application procedure, please check the website: https://www.uu.nl/masters/en/general-information/international-students/financial-matters/grants-and-scholarships/holland-scholarship&utm_campaign=uu.dcm.int.master.general&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=holland-scholarship

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The scholarship is designed to make a significant contribution towards the costs of travel and living while studying in Utrecht; however it will be necessary to find additional funding to completely finance your study and stay in Utrecht. As one of the requirements for being granted a residence permit in the Netherlands, students from non EEA countries must prove to the IND (immigration and naturalisation office) that they have sufficient financial means. The university advises a budget, not including the tuition fee, of 10,000 to 14,000 Euros per year to cover as a minimum costs for rent, insurance, living expenses, course books and local transportation.

The selection for the Geosciences Scholarship is carried out by the Board of Studies of the Graduate School Geosciences within the Faculty of Geosciences. The Board will determine the order of priority of all the eligible candidates on the basis of the criteria below. The funds awarded are exclusively linked to the Master's programme for which they were granted. Awarded grants cannot be transferred to another starting date or other Master's programmes.

Value of Scholarship(s)

5,000 Euro per year for a maximum duration of two years


1. Hold a non-Dutch passport and not be eligible for support under the Dutch system of study
for grants and loans;
2. Have been admitted to a Master's Programme within the Utrecht University Graduate School
3. Grade Point Average of 7,5 or higher according to the Dutch grade system
4. Belong to the top 20% of his/her final undergraduate year, as evidenced by a
university statement;
5. Be able to comply with the conditions to obtain a Dutch visa
(only for students from non EEA countries).

Application Procedure

Include in your application:
1. The completed Geosciences Scholarship application form;
2. Your bachelor’s thesis or equivalent thereof in English;
3. A motivation letter of one page, explaining why this scholarship should be
awarded to you.
It is strongly advised to send the scholarship application at the same time as your application for the Master’s Programme. Please send the application form for the Geosciences Scholarship by e-mail: admission.geo@uu.nl and put “Application Geosciences Scholarship” in the subject of the e-mail.

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In 2017, Utrecht University and the Utrecht University Fund proudly announced a new scholarship programme: the Bright Minds Fellowships. This scholarship aims to attract and retain talented students from a broad range of backgrounds, as well as stimulate and support global excellence and diversity in the UU student population.

Number of scholarships: 10-15
Available for: EU/EEA students (including Dutch students)
Scholarship amount: € 5,000 or € 10,000
The Bright Minds Fellowships are made possible by Utrecht University alumni and the Utrecht University Fund.

The applications are reviewed by the Bright Minds selection committee. The committee considers: academic achievement, as shown by grades and (if available) GRE or GMAT scores
personal background, as demonstrated by a variety of factors, including but not limited to educational experience, socio-economic background, cultural heritage, race and ethnicity
interpersonal skills, as demonstrated by extracurricular activities, community service and work experience

Value of Scholarship(s)

€ 5,000 or € 10,000


Students who hold an EU/EEA passport (including Dutch), and
- have applied for a Master’s Programme at Utrecht University (only UU students can receive a Bright Minds Fellowship)
- will be starting their Master’s Programme at Utrecht University in September 2018
- will be working to complete their first Master’s degree
- have shown academic achievement in their previous studies
- bring an element of diversity to the UU community

Application Procedure

Complete the online application form before February 1.

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