Biogeochemical Cycles

Within the specialisation Biogeochemical Cycles you can choose among several courses and different thesis tracks.

More about the specialisation

Did you know that human-induced climate change also has an impact on the biogeochemical cycles of the elements carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus? And at the same time that biogeochemical processes are key for mitigating climate change?

In the specialisation Biogeochemical Cycles, students will learn about the main features of the global cycles of the most common elements in a changing environment influenced by human activities. The study track focuses on the chemical and (micro)biological controls of major elemental cycles as well as the interactions and feedbacks between these cycles. Students analyse contemporary elemental cycles both within and between the major interconnected earth system compartments, with a focus on the atmosphere, vegetation and soils. They assess the past, present and future impact of climate change on these cycles.

The specialisation Biogeochemical Cycles will challenge students to answers questions like:

  • How does nutrient availability control the response of ecosystems to climate change?
  • How does the impact of various carbon-based mitigation strategies vary across different geographical regions?

To find answers, students may employ several state-of-the-art methods used in biogeochemical research. These methods include large-scale field experiments and measurements, but also controlled laboratory and greenhouse experiments, ecosystem and earth system modelling, and theoretical approaches.

Students can learn more about the education and research related to this specialisation by visiting the website of the Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality Group, the Meteorology and Air Quality Group and the Water Systems and Global Change Group.


The following subjects are part of the MSc programme Climate Studies when selecting the specialisation Biogeochemical Cycles. Next to these thesis specific courses, you will follow courses from the common part and electives as summarized in the programme outline. For more information visit the study handbook or contact the study adviser.

Specialisation-related subjects
Subject Code
One e-learning is compulsory in order to work safely at Wageningen University (0 ECTS):
Laboratory safety ZSS06100
Biogeochemical Cycles and Climate Change Mitigation SOC36306
Restricted Optional: select (at least) two*
Atmospheric Composition and Air Quality MAQ34806
Meteorology and Climate MAQ21806
Climate Smart Agriculture WSG35806
Earth System Modelling MAQ35806
Soil Quality SBL21806
The Carbon Dilemma SBL35306
Field Training Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Interactions SOC40806
Restricted optional: Select one
MSc thesis Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry MAQ81336
MSc Thesis Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality SOC81336
MSc Thesis Water Systems and Global Change WSG80436

*To be selected in consultation with your study adviser and in preparation for your thesis subject.

In order to prepare well for your thesis track, you can additionally choose supporting courses. These courses focus, for example on quantitative and data sciences. You can find the exact list in the study handbook at the section "Restricted Optionals (2) in Common part".

This course overview is based on the Wageningen University study handbook, where you can find a more detailed course and programme description. The study handbook is guiding in case of any discrepancy.

Below you can see how your schedule may look like for your whole study programme:

MSc Climate Studies - Biogeochemical Cycles