Earth and Environment
How to deal with global environmental change resulting from human activity is one of the most hotly debated topics of our time. This debate includes multiple scientific, societal, and economic issues. Our planet Earth has always been dynamic from a climatic and environmental viewpoint. So to fully understand the global environmental change debate, it is crucial to understand the fundamental set of mechanisms that drive planet Earth’s natural dynamics.
In the track Earth and Environment, you will learn about these Earth system processes and the anthropogenic forces affecting the Earth system with a specific focus on biodiversity, climate and natural resources. Based on this fundamental knowledge it is possible to assess which processes are currently altered through human activity, and how these alterations affect the dynamic trajectory of our planet.
The track Earth and Environment provides students with fundamental knowledge on Earth system processes. Depending on the student’s profile, this knowledge can be applied across fields in the sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and the social sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Geography and Political Science). The track has furthermore defined specific links with courses in Sustainability and Physics, as outlined in the following.
The track Earth and Environment naturally complements the set of interdepartmental Sustainability courses. The knowledge gained on fundamental Earth System processes in the Earth and Environment track provides students with an in-depth understanding of the causes and consequences of socio-economic development on the Earth system and natural resources. This knowledge allows students to provide a natural science perspective on the multi-dimensional issues that are considered in the context of sustainable development.
Relevant sustainability courses are:
- Energy systems & Sustainability (UCSCIPHY01)
- INT-Sustainability (UCINTSUS21)
- Systems, Stories and Sustainability (UCINTSUS31)
The Earth and Environment track course Atmosphere & Climate (UCSCIEAR22) provides students with in-depth knowledge of atmospheric physics in the context of climate change. In addition to being interesting and relevant for students following the Earth and Environment track, this course also provides students from the Physics track with the opportunity to apply their knowledge on fundamental physics and algebra in the context of a societal relevant issue.
The typical route through the Earth and Environment track requires taking a level 1, 2 and 3 course, followed by the thesis:
- The level 1 course provides students with a broad overview of topics covered in the Earth & Environment track and, with other courses, provides entrance to the level 2 courses.
- The level 2 courses are disciplinary, so students can tailor the track to their specific interest(s) and study path. Although a single level 2 course provides entrance to the level 3 Earth & Environment course, a student can take multiple level 2 course in the track.
- The level 3 course integrates and applies the knowledges and skills students have gained and prepares students for their thesis.
- The thesis allows students to perform an in-depth research on a topic in fields of Earth Sciences, Atmosphere and Climate Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Sustainability Sciences. The track also provides opportunities to follow lab courses to acquire relevant research skills.
Combination with other courses
Students interested in learning more about sustainability can combine the track with the interdepartmental level-2 course Sustainability (UCINTSUS21), which can also be combined with the preparatory course Energy Systems and Sustainability. Students who have followed this course can also enrol within the Earth & Environment track (at level 2). Students specifically interested in sustainability science may want to consider the course offerings within the UU Bachelor’s programme Global Sustainability Science.
For the more beta-oriented students, the track specifically offers the level-2 course Atmosphere and Climate (UCSCIEAR22), which has the entry requirement of successful completion of a level-1 math or physics course involving calculus.
Off-campus courses provide additional opportunities to learn about more specialised topics. Examples of more beta-oriented courses are Geochemical cycles (Geo2-1207), Global Climate Change (Geo2-2143) and Land degradation (Geo3-4304). More gamma-oriented students may be interested in courses such as Environmental Impact Assessment (Geo2-2123). An overview of potentially interesting off-campus courses, including courses on sustainability, can be found under the heading 'Recommended courses outside the track'.
For specific questions about the track, please ask your questions on the Earth & Environment Teams via chat or the Fellow's virtual open office on the first Tuesday of each month from 9:30 to 10:30. The Earth & Environment Teams page can be joined here: https://edu.nl/rewt8.
The thesis in the Earth & Environment track follows the procedures and time line of the research thesis and allows for either 7.5ECTS or 15ECTS. Topics from the Earth Sciences, Atmosphere and Climate Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Sustainability Sciences can form the basis of the Earth & Environment thesis.
15ECTS research thesis
The 15ECTS research thesis consists of 3 elements: literature study (~150 hours), empirical or theoretical research (~200 hours) and writing a research report (~50 hours). The research can, for example, entail data collection in the field, laboratory analysis, model development or an extensive data analysis.
The 7.5ECTS thesis typically omits or shortens the empirical aspect of the research.
Track-specific information on the thesis will be shared during the Earth & Environment thesis information session scheduled on the first Tuesday after the deadline for informing the Fellow of a potential thesis topic (typically mid November and early April).
Depending on the choice of level 2 courses and the topic of the thesis, the Earth and Environment track prepares students for Master’s programmes in the fields of Environmental Science, Earth Science, Geology, and Climate Science, for example:
- Master in Sustainable Development (UU)
- Earth Structure and Dynamics; Earth Surface and Water & Earth; Life and Climate (all at UU)
- Industrial Ecology (TU Delft)
- Sustainable Energy Technology (TU Delft)
- Environment & Resource Management (VU Amsterdam)
- UCSCIEAR11: Introduction to Earth & Environment
- UCSCIEAR21: Ecosystem change in the Anthropocene (NEW!)
- UCSCIEAR22: Atmosphere & Climate
- UCSCIEAR23: Earth System Processes and Geology
- UCSCIEAR33: Quantifying Earth’s boundaries in the Anthropocene (NEW!)
- UCSCIEARL1: Geology project lab course
- UCSCIEARL2: Carbon storage in deciduous forests
Please find a list of recommended courses outside the track here.
- In effect per period 1 academic year 2022-2023.
- For questions contact Hugo de Boer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- For registration with these courses contact Erika Dijksma (email@example.com), including proof of prerequisites.
For other off-campus courses, students still need to go through the regular Osiris enrollment or contact the education coordinators of the specific departments. For Earth Sciences courses, this is Ingrid Beekman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Registration periods can be found online here. Also check the time slot of the UU course.