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Course content

MSc Environmental Sciences

Are you up to the challenge of finding innovative methods and sustainable solutions to the threats facing the environment? The Environmental Sciences Master programme at Wageningen University has its roots in the natural, technological and social sciences.

Students will gain insight into the socio-economic causes and the characteristics of pollution and degradation of the natural environment, including the effects on human beings, the atmosphere, ecosystems and other organisms. This two-year programme is based on an interdisciplinary approach. Students learn to develop analytical tools and models, as well as technologies, socio-political arrangements and economic instruments to prevent and control environmental and sustainability issues.

Programme summary

We are facing a future with an increased demand for food, water, energy and other resources, which will have an enormous impact on our already heavily burdened environment. Environmental challenges for the future include using our resources efficiently, minimising our impact on nature, and creating and changing people’s awareness and behaviour towards their environment.

The MSc Environmental Sciences programme is designed for students who want to take up this challenge in finding innovative and sustainable approaches to secure and improve the state of the environment. This programme provides insight into the socioeconomic causes, the characteristics of pollution and degradation of the natural environment, and their effects on human beings and ecosystems. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, students learn to develop analytical tools and models, environmental technologies, socio-political arrangements and economic instruments to prevent and control environmental problems.

To allow you maximum flexibility in your individual course of study, there are no formal specialisations and compulsory elements are kept at a minimum. This allows you to tailor the programme to your individual needs. Major thesis research can be conducted in one of the ten thesis tracks (major) and each major can be combined with a minor in Environmental Communication or Education.

Thesis tracks

The ten thesis tracks are clustered in 4 groups.

Environmental Quality
Investigates the physical, chemical and biological processes that influence the quality of the environmental compartments: Soil, Water and Air; and the effects of pollutants on humans and ecosystems. Students can choose the thesis tracks Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry, Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality, Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality, or Environmental Toxicology.

Environmental Systems Analysis
Studies the natural and social processes involved in environmental issues. It aims to develop integrative tools and methodologies and to apply these in strategic research. Students can choose to develop such an integrated approach via the thesis track Environmental Systems Analysis.

Environmental Policy and Economics
Covers the contribution of the social sciences to environmental research. The focus is on the social, political, legal and economic aspects of environmental issues and the goal is to provide students with the skills for studying, formulating and designing innovative forms of national and international environmental governance. You can choose a thesis track in the disciplines of Environmental Policy, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources, or Integrated Water Management.

Environmental Technology
Concentrates on biological, chemical and physical processes for water reuse and the recovery of nutrients, minerals and energy. The aim is to fully understand these processes in order to design and optimise innovative technologies for renewable energy, closing nutrient cycles and solving environmental issues. You can choose any of these topics via the thesis track Environmental Technology.

Your future career

Graduates from this programme are well-equipped to continue their scientific training in a PhD programme or to begin - or continue - a professional career requiring independent scientific performance. Students are taught the knowledge and skills needed to communicate with experts from different disciplines allowing them to play a key role in complex environmental and sustainability issues. Most graduates enter careers in environmental consultancy, research and management, while others are involved in policy development and higher education.

Alumna Charlotte Van Erp Taalman Kip.
Upon graduation, Charlotte started working as environmental consultant at MWH Global. Two years later, she continued her career at the water board Hollandse Delta as innovation engineer. She works together with different parties for implementing innovative and sustainable ideas. One project she is involved in is an initiative of all water boards that focuses on the recovery of valuable compounds in sewage. “It’s time to see our sewage not as a dirty waste stream, but as a valuable resource. We should not destroy this potential of sewage. On the contrary, it is our duty to recover and reuse all its valuable components.”

Related programmes:
MSc Climate Studies
MSc Urban Environmental Management
MSc Earth and Environment
MSc Forest and Nature Conservation
MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management.

Visit the MSc Environmental Sciences page on the Wageningen University & Research website for more details!

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