Study programme - MSc Earth and Environment

The MSc Earth and Environment is a two year programme. The first year consists mostly of coursework. In the second year you work on your MSc thesis (26 weeks) and you will do an internship (16 weeks). The four specialisations of the programme present you the opportunity to tailor your personal programme to your own interests, knowledge and skills.

Outline of the programme

Year 1


The total programme of the MSc Earth and Environment is 120 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). In the first year (60 ECTS), you take a number of compulsory courses (CS), restricted optional subjects (RO) and optional subjects (O). The second year (60 ECTS) consists of a MSc Thesis (36 ECTS) and an Internship (24 ECTS).

Everyone starts the MSc Earth and Environment with two compulsory courses: ‘Interdisciplinary Topics in Earth and Environment’ and ‘Environmental Data Collection and Analysis’ (8 weeks). After this first period you will take courses from your chosen specialisation, free choice courses and choose one from three Academic Master Cluster courses. You decide on your personal programme together with your study adviser.


The MSc Earth and Environment has four specialisations:

  1. Hydrology and Water Resources
  2. Meteorology and Air Quality
  3. Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water
  4. Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics

Each specialisation has its own restricted optional courses that train you to become an expert in that field. During your free choice you can decide to follow more courses from your specialisation, but you can also follow courses from the other specialisations or even other master’s programmes. The free choice credits therefore help you the develop yourself optimally in the subjects of your interest. For more information on the specialisations and their schedules op the page Specialisations.

Academic Master Cluster

Depending on your specialisation, you take an Academic Master Cluster in the 5th or 6th period in the first year. You either work on a project for a client as part of the ‘Academic Consultancy Training’, or you participate in a specific climate change module, ‘Impact, Adaptation, and Mitigation’. In both cases you work in a multidisciplinary and multicultural team. The third option is to take the Research Master Cluster and follow a module on academic research proposal writing, which focusses more on preparing you for a possible PhD position.

Year 2


The Master Earth and Environment offers a choice of different thesis subjects at nine Wageningen University chair groups. The thesis consists of 26 weeks of research and writing. Your choice of thesis subject and chair group depends on your chosen specialisation in the first year. A staff member from this chair group provides you with individual supervision. You agree on the research topic with your thesis supervisor and study adviser. You can choose from a range of subjects offered by your chair group, other institutes, or come up with an own subject based on your research interests. The resulting thesis is graded by your supervisor and another, independent, staff member. You are also required to present your results during a seminar, the ‘colloquium’.


The 16 week internship is a required element of the master’s programme. In your second year you work at an institute outside Wageningen University or even outside the Netherlands. Your internship is a unique learning opportunity, where you can apply your academic skills in a professional environment, preparing you for your future career.

Instead of your internship it is also possible to take part in a master track (Dutch only) to obtain a first level teaching qualification, that provides the possibility for teaching physics in all years and all types of secondary education. However, to obtain this first level qualification it is required to have followed the education Minor in your Bachelor's degree where you can obtain a second level teaching qualification.