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Earth Sciences


Advancing fundamental knowledge on Earth system functioning and how these functions respond to human pressure is necessary to move forward in an ever-changing world. The Master’s Programme in Earth Sciences at the University of Amsterdam focuses on Earth system processes, and the interactions of humans and ecosystems within the Earth system.

Introduction Earth Sciences

Are you curious about more information of the study? Watch the video and find out why this is the study for you.


Is Earth Sciences for you?

The Earth system is under unprecedented anthropogenic pressure, which is reflected in ongoing climate change, land degradation, water, soil and air contamination, and species extinctions, which are manifesting with varying severity in different places around the world, affecting different communities to varying degrees.

  • Do you want to be involved in identifying solutions for these grand challenges?
  • Help to manage land and water systems to safeguard our environment against hazards,
  • Help to conserve ecosystems, assess the environmental impact of infrastructural projects?
  • Or help to understand processes that are essential to produce food from healthy soils or exploit clean water in a sustainable way?

> > > Then our Master Earth Sciences is for you!


The Earth Sciences programme has two tracks: Earth System Science (ESS) and Environmental Management (EM).

Track 1: Earth System Science

Students in the Earth System Science track will deepen their understanding on the processes that determine the functioning of the Earth system and the role and impact of humans and climate change on this system. Such knowledge is essential when facing current grand challenges concerning global change, but also to realize sustainability goals while gaining insight into landscape- and ecosystem services.

Students will study the landscape and climate dynamics at spatial scales, ranging from molecules to the Earth system as a whole, based on fieldwork, laboratory work and modelling studies. In this track, depending on your interests, you will develop further expertise in computational skills including Remote Sensing, LiDAR and GIS, landscape and biodiversity modelling and geostatistics, or analytical skills ranging from soil chemistry, microfossil analysis or geomorphic analysis. The track involves a good balance in computation skills, laboratory skills and field survey skills.

Track 2: Environmental Management

Students in the Environmental Management track will gain knowledge on the management of natural resources, landscapes and ecosystems using inter­disciplinary approaches that include the Earth sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Study systems span the landscape from urban environments to nature reserves, and cover topics such as human-wildlife conflicts, how species and ecosystems adapt to living in built-up areas, the revitalization of natural areas, and the conflicts emerging from the climate crisis, as well as attempts at their resolution.

Such knowledge is essential given the increasing pressures that our current society is placing on many species and the functioning of entire ecosystems. Students will also learn about how the use and management of ecosystems is determined by the interactions between diverse human-interest groups, which is of particular relevance in understanding the constraints faced by environmental managers. Students will also be trained to apply their knowledge in practice through a hands-on internship with a private or governmental organization that is working to tackle environmental management problems for the benefit of society.

Why study Earth Sciences?

  • You have an inquisitive mind and like the challenge of finding solutions for the complex environmental issues that are facing our changing planet.
  • In the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) we offer you a wide range of brand new and state of the art facilities (e-science labs including GIS, remote sensing and geo-ecological modelling, soil- and environmental chemistry and erosion labs) to enable you to let your course work meet the latest scientific standards.
  • You wish to acquire in-depth insight on the functioning of environmental processes affecting our planet, and to use this to challenge existing knowledge and contribute to practical solutions and applications.
  • You are eager to combine a scientific interest in earth sciences with related fields in ecology, hydrology, environmental chemistry and human impact studies to understand their complex interaction, which is required to address the global, regional and local processes.
  • You have a quantitative attitude, and are eager to learn, use and apply state of the art analytical methods which can include and combine e-science based techniques, advanced laboratory techniques and field measurement techniques.
  • You want to become part of inspiring research projects, in both national and international settings.
  • It is a relatively small study group, so the atmosphere is informal and the lines of communication are short.

Experts of the Earth

The Master's in Earth Sciences will enable you to study and understand many different aspects of global geo-ecosystems, and how humans can harmonize their actions with nature and landscapes. The programme has a very international student population, and many students decide to do research projects abroad. Examples of recent projects include 'Reducing land degradation in the Peruvian Andes' and 'Environmental response of revegetation in Spain and Slovenia'. 

Facts & Figures
Degree programme MSc Earth Sciences
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 120 ECTS, 24 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 66986
Location Science Park