Do you want to explore processes affecting the earth’s life and its environment? The Master’s programme Earth, Life and Climate provides you with the knowledge to understand the earth’s fundamental processes which regulate the past, present and future dynamics of environmental systems, biodiversity and climate.

Environmental systems on Earth are the atmosphere (air), biosphere (living organisms), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere (ice), pedosphere (soil), and lithosphere (rock). Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth and encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life. Climate is the average of weather (typically precipitation and temperature) in a particular location over a long period of time.

At present, human action results in major changes in the fragile natural environmental systems, biodiversity and climate. This is a major concern and one of the greatest international societal and scientific challenges for the future.

The programme

Topics you will study during this two-year programme include amongst others the origin and evolution of life, major transitions in earth’s history, dynamics of sedimentary systems, carbon sources and sinks, biogeochemical and geochemical cycles, climate change and its impact on natural environments such as glaciers, ice sheets, lakes, groundwater, wetlands, estuaries, and oceans. You will learn state-of-the-art reconstruction methods, modelling techniques, and laboratory experiments that has been developed and applied in a wide range of earth and beta science disciplines, such as biogeology, palaeontology, palynology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, environmental geochemistry, organic geochemistry, hydrology, physical geography, geology, biology, climate dynamics, marine sciences and palaeoceanography. You will utilise these skills in your own research project or internship in preparation for an international career in applied or fundamental research.

The research groups have people of various disciplines and diverse backgrounds, which inspires and really gives the feeling of being in it together.

Bas, student Earth, Life and Climate

Why in Utrecht

Studying Earth, Life and Climate at Utrecht University has several advantages and benefits.

  • At the start of the programme, you can select one of four tracks to suit your specific interests. These tracks offer a well-balanced mixture of courses that will expose you to a wide spectrum of disciplines within the Earth Sciences.
  • Research topics Utrecht University form part of larger research efforts to help find innovative, sustainable solutions to threats and opportunities arising from climate change. This results in relevant research and career opportunities.
  • Our lecturers are active researches with excellent reputations and international standing, resulting in a high quality and challenging educational programme.
  • You will receive excellent support from technical and electronic engineers and use state-of-the art laboratory facilities and field instrumentation either developed in-house or provided by third parties such as the Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden) and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) at Texel.
  • You will also have access to excellent computational tools for Earth System an Climate modelling, either developed in-house, the faculty of Science (UU) or provided by third parties such as the Royal Netherlands Institute of Meteorology (KNMI).
  • Utrecht is the national focal point of Earth Sciences in the Netherlands and the university is situated in close proximity to applied research institutes, which stimulates collaboration.

Key facts

Earth Sciences (MSc)
Language of instruction: 
Mode of study: 
Study duration: 
2 years

Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April

Dutch & EU/EEA students: 1 June

Tuition fees: 
Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee, full-time) 2024-2025: € 2,530

Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee) 2024-2025: € 23,765

More information about fees
Croho code: 
Accredited by the NVAO
Graduate school: 
School of Geosciences
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