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Description of Earth and Environment

Planet Earth is a complex, interactive and fascinating system, providing all the essentials needed to sustain life and support living organisms, protected by a thin layer of atmosphere. 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. 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.

During the two-year master programme, you become a well-rounded specialist in the fields of (a) hydrology and water resources; (b) meteorology and air quality; (c) biological and other aspects of soil and water; or (d) geography of soils and Earth system dynamics. Furthermore, you also gain a broad view of the interactions in the critical zone where the different spheres meet. Subjects studied range from micro to global scale; they are closely related to the innovative research and applications of ten leading research groups.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline Dutch nationalities: August 1; EU/EEA: July 15; Non EU/EEA: May 1
Start date September  2016
Credits (ECTS) 120 ECTS
Duration full-time 24 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Full-time

Course Content

Combining disciplines

The Earth’s traditional spheres (lithosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere) are increasingly being studied at their interfaces. Interdisciplinary research leads to new developments, that in turn give direction to further fundamental research. If you join the Master Earth and Environment programme, you learn to view the Earth as a coherent system, with intense and significant interactions between its compartments.


The study of the Earth system largely focuses on understanding its interdependent physical, chemical and biological processes, and on developing models that describe these processes on relevant scales. This allows the development of scenarios for expected local, regional and/or global changes, including time-scales. In this Master programme, the focus lies 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’. If you enrol in this programme, you develop advanced modelling skills, paying due attention to methods for up- and down-scaling; you learn to think in ranges of temporal and spatial scales.

The domain of natural sciences

The Master Earth and Environment programme is part of the domain of natural sciences and therefore relies on tools provided by mathematics, statistics and computer science. It combines the Earth system's approach with profound disciplinary training, optimally preparing students for dealing with the complex scientific and societal issues of the future.

Specialisations and thesis tracks

Within the MSc Earth and Environment, you can specialise in different fields by selecting a major thesis subject and associated preparatory courses; this is called a thesis track. You can choose from thesis tracks within the following specialisations:

  • Hydrology and Water Resources
  • Meteorology and Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water
  • Soil, Landscape, Earth


This programme takes part in the Climate-KIC master label. Climate-KIC is a knowledge and innovation community, part of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), an EU body that supports the creation of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and promotes a real change of mind set towards an entrepreneurial culture and attitude. A world class European network, Climate-KIC consists of dynamic and innovative companies, the best academic institutions and the public sector. The Climate-KIC master label offers students career-enhancing qualifications of the highest quality designed to extend and deepen their knowledge as well as their professional contacts

English Language Requirements

Requirements for Earth and Environment

Students who wish to enrol in a MSc programme at Wageningen University must:

  • have a BSc degree (or equivalent) in a field of science relevant to the programme selected;

  • have a Grade Point Average for their BSc of at least 7 (or 70% of the maximum of the scale);

  • be fluent in English, both written and spoken;

Work Experience for Earth and Environment

No work experience is required.

More Information


Accredited by: NVAO in: Netherlands

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Wageningen University, Netherlands

Netherlands Wageningen University is one of the leading international universities in the field of healthy food and living environment. Studying at Wageningen University guarantees you premium quality education and an international quality benchmark on your curriculum vitae. Here, you will focus on current and future global issues that are of increasing importance to both industry and government.

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