Programme outline - Climate Studies

The MSc programme Climate Studies runs annually beginning from September. It comprises 120 ECTS credits and runs for two academic years. The first year consists of 40 weeks of coursework; the second year consists of the academic internship (16 weeks) and thesis programme (24 weeks), which are the core components of the master's degree programme. Each of these elements is described in more detail below.

Academic year

Wageningen University has six teaching periods per year. The first, the second and the fifth last eight weeks; the third and fourth last four weeks and the sixth lasts ten weeks. During an eight-week teaching period, students usually take two six-credit courses for six weeks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by one week of independent study and one week for the scheduled interim examinations. During a four-week teaching period, students take a single six-credit course.


Course selection

As a student you will gain a broad overview of climate change related issues by following compulsory courses, a selection of restricted optional courses and courses that you may choose freely (optional subjects). Some of the compulsory and restricted optional subjects are specific for this programme and others are part of the major of your choice. The optional subjects can be taken from any other relevant MSc programme offered by Wageningen University or by another academic institution. This means that you can adjust your personal programme to your own wishes, and either choose a further specialisation or a broadening of your programme. Your study adviser and thesis supervisor will assist you in this process.

The common part

In the table below you will find the compulsory and restricted optional courses which belong to the common part of the MSc programme Climate Studies (in total 24 ECTS credits).

Course Code Period
Compulsory courses:
Introduction to Global Change ESA-23306 1
Modular Skills Training YMC-60303 1-6
Restricted optional; select one out of these two courses:
Design of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies WSG-60812 5/6
Academic Consultancy Training YMC-60809 5/6
Select in consultation with your study adviser one of these two courses:
Principles of Climate Change Economics and Policy ENR-22806 1
Principles of Earth and Ecosystem Science SOC-23306 1

Thesis track Within the MSc programme Climate Studies, students can major in one out of eleven disciplines. Each major (thesis track) has its own coursework curriculum. The curriculum can also differ between students depending on their preparatory training. The thesis track-related courses primarily serve to prepare you for your major thesis research.

Go to thesis tracks

Free choice In the programme there is also room for optional subjects which you may use to broaden your scope or to deepen your knowledge on a topic within your specialisation.


The thesis (individual research) is part of your major and consists of 24 weeks of research and writing (36 credits). The research is conducted under supervision of a staff member of one of the chair groups related to this MSc programme. Cooperative work with other chair groups is also possible. Students decide in consultation with the study adviser and thesis supervisor about the topic of their research. Usually this topic originates from subjects put forward by the chair group, by other institutes, or from the student's own research interests. Experimental thesis research requiring specialised equipment will usually be part of on-going research programmes of Wageningen UR departments or research institutes. The research is concluded with a written thesis, which is graded by the supervisor together with another, independent staff member. The student also presents his/her results during a seminar ("colloquium").

Research quality

The following chair groups are related to the master's programme of Climate Studies:

  • Earth System Science and Climate Change
  • Environmental Systems Analysis
  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Economics and Natural Resources
  • Meteorology and Air Quality
  • Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management
  • Soil Quality
  • Crop and Weed Ecology
  • Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology

All of these groups are highly ranked by international research evaluation standards and are recognized as excellent research groups within the international climate change research community.


The compulsory internship consists of 24 ECTS credits of project work in an institution outside of Wageningen University. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with a unique learning opportunity to apply learned skills and concepts to a professional setting. The experience gained from the internship also serves to help students focusing on their area of interest, as well as building confidence and maturity in their field. You can select an internship from one out of the eleven tracks of Climate Studies.

Whilst securing an internship is primarily a responsibility of the student, the internship coordinator will provide substantial assistance in finding a suitable position, ensuring that the work experience is relevant to the student's study programme. The internship may either be undertaken abroad or in the Netherlands. To receive credits for an internship, students must receive a satisfactory evaluation from both their internship (host) supervisor and supervisor within the MSc Climate Studies programme.

Students with (supervised) work experience on an academic level may exchange the internship for a second thesis. Approval by the study adviser is required.