Ecological and Agroecological Systems

Within the specialisation Ecological and Agroecological Systems you can choose among several courses.

More about the specialisation

Climate change can have severe impacts on agricultural production and associated food security, but also on natural ecosystems. Global warming and the increased variability in rainfall may also have a negative effect on crop production, water security and ecosystem functioning. However, ecosystems can also be part of the solution by reducing these negative effects of climatic changes.

In this specialisation Ecological and Agro-ecological Systems students analyse plant-soil-water interactions in ecological and agro-ecological systems. This is needed to develop effective strategies for safeguarding basic ecosystem services, sustainable crop production and biodiversity. An important tool to integrate this knowledge on plant-vegetation, soil and water dynamics is modelling. It also makes it possible to assess the measures of adaptation and mitigation.

With this knowledge, students try to find answers for questions like:

  • How do ecological and agro-ecological systems contribute to climate change through the emissions of the greenhouse gases CO2, N2O and CH4?
  • Which mitigation measures can be used to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions?
  • How does climate change affect future water availability and food production?
  • How to design adaptation strategies for natural ecosystems?

Students can learn more about the education and research related to this specialisation by visiting the website of the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, the Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group, the Soil Biology Group, the Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil 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 Ecological and Agroecological Systems. Next to these thesis specific, 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*
Biological Interactions in Soils SBL32806
Models for Ecological Systems FEM31806
Climate Smart Agriculture WSG35806
Modelling Functional Diversity in Crop Production CSA32806
Soil Quality SBL21806
The Carbon Dilemma SBL35306
Plant, Vegetation and Systems Ecology PEN30306
Restricted optional: Select one
MSc Thesis Crop and Weed Ecology CSA80436
MSc Thesis Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation PEN80436
MSc Thesis Soil Biology SBL81836
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:

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