Soil Biology

The Soil Biologygroup studies the role of soil biota in improving the state of the environment and in sustainable solutions to environmental threats. Soil biota are widely perceived as the most diverse part of terrestrial life. They are crucial for providing environmental ecosystem services: sequestering carbon, minimising greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating nutrient leaching from agro-ecosystems, and sustaining biodiversity.

More about this thesis track

The research ranges from the laboratory scale (detailed process studies) via the greenhouse (pot experiments) and the field (on-farm experiments) to regional and (supra-) national modeling approaches. We study (semi)natural and agro-ecosystems (and their interactions) in both the developed world and in developing countries. There is a strong cooperation with our sister department Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality.

The three main areas of research are:

  • Fertile soils, focusing on functioning and management of the soil biota in agro-ecosystems;
  • Soils in a changing climate, focusing on the effects of soil biota on the greenhouse gas balance of the soil and on maintaining soil quality;
  • Soil biodiversity, focusing on soil biodiversity conservation and utilisation in agricultural landscapes

    Students can learn more about the education and research related to this discipline by visiting the website of the Soil Biology.


The following courses are part of the MSc programme Environmental Sciences when selecting the thesis track Soil Biology. Besides these courses, for the common part of the programme several supporting courses are available which have to be taken if your study adviser deems it necessary (these are not listed in the table below, but summarized in the programme outline). Also, there is room for optional subjects which you may use to broaden your scope or to deepen your knowledge on a topic in your specialisation. For more information visit the study handbook or contact the study adviser.

The common part
Subject Code Period* Phase
Compulsory unless advised otherwise
Environmental Quality and Governance ENP-35806 2AF, 5AF M1
Principles of Environmental Sciences ESA-20806 1AF, 4WD M1
Research Methods in Environmental Science YRM-20306 1MO, 2MO M1
Restricted optional: select one out of these three options**
European Workshop Environmental Sciences and Management ESA-60312 1WD, 6WD M1
Environmental Education and Learning for Sustainability and Teaching, Learning and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development ELS-31806+ ELS-32806 6WD M1
Academic Consultancy Training and Modular Skills Training (MOS) YMC-60809+ YMC-60300 1WD, 2WD, 3WD+4WD, 5WD,6WD M1
Thesis track-related subjects
Subject Code Period* Phase
Compulsory unless advised otherwise
Biological Interactions in Soils SBL-32806 2AF M1
Chemical Processes in Soil, Water, Atmosphere SOC-22306 2MO M1
MSc Internship Soil Quality SOC-70424 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
MSc Thesis Soil Biology SBL-81836 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
Restricted optional: select (at least) two
Soil Quality SBL-21806 5MO M1
The Carbon Dilemma SBL-35306 5MO M1
*MO = morning; AF= afternoon; WD = whole day
**The restricted optional subjects have to be selected in consultation and agreement with the study adviser.
This course overview is based on the Wageningen University study handbook. The study handbook is guiding in case of any discrepancy.

Below you can see how your schedule might look like:

MSc Environmental Sciences - Soil Biology.jpg