Would you like to understand how plate tectonics really works, what makes volcanos erupt, how mountains are formed or what the subsurface challenges are for the energy transition? During the Master's Earth Structure and Dynamics you will study and research everything about the processes beneath our planet’s surface and how they affect what happens on the surface.

Explore processes affecting the Earth's life and its environment

In the Master's programme Earth Structure and Dynamics programme you will explore the composition, structure, and evolution of the Earth’s crust, mantle, and core. During this two-year programme, you will learn to link geological, geophysical, geochemical, and geodetic observations made at the Earth’s surface to natural and human-induce processes operating within the planet.

Specialise in any aspect of Solid Earth Science

The Earth Structure and Dynamics programme addresses all aspects of the solid Earth as a key component of System Earth – and therefore of Earth System science. This encompasses the structure, dynamics, and evolution of the solid Earth over the full range of spatial and temporal scales as well as the role of solid Earth structure and processes in relation to geo-energy and mineral resources, geological storage and geohazards.

The programme combines geology, geophysics, mathematics, physics, chemistry and field studies to address how the solid Earth works. It allows you to specialise in virtually any aspect of solid Earth science, ranging from theoretical geophysics to pure geology or geochemistry and focus on crust, mantle, core or other planetary bodies.

I have always been amazed by large scale processes that govern the Earth and the Solar System.

Marla, student Earth Structure and Dynamics

Core areas of teaching and research

The main subject areas you will study consist of seismology, tectonophysics, mantle dynamics, structural geology, metamorphism, magmatic processes, sedimentary basin evolution and the properties of Earth materials, including applications relating to sustainable geo-resources. You will examine processes ranging from slow geodynamic processes, such as mantle convection, plate tectonics and mountain building, to those having an impact on human time scales. These include active crustal deformation, seismicity and volcanism, as well as subsidence, uplift and seismicity caused geo-energy production, geological storage of CO2, green hydrogen and other renewable energy carriers. Applied and environmental mineral physics options are also offered. You will work at scales ranging from satellite imagery and field observations to laboratory experiments and petrographic studies, and from global seismic tomography to electron microscopy. Observational data are linked to the Earth’s internal structure and dynamics through modelling, using the latest theoretical, physical, experimental and computational methods.

In the programme, you will address questions such as:

  • How do mountain belts and sedimentary basins form? 
  • How can we image the internal structure of the crust and mantle? 
  • How does plate tectonics really work and how can we model it? 
  • What controls volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? 
  • Can CO2, renewable H2 and radioactive waste be safely stored in the subsurface?
  • How best to locate sustainable geo-resources, such as geothermal energy and mineral resources such as lithium?

Why in Utrecht

Studying Earth Structure and Dynamics at Utrecht University has several advantages and benefits.

  • At the start of the programme, you can select one of three 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.
  • Master's research topics at 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 cutting-edge research and career opportunities.
  • Our lecturers are active researchers of high international standing, resulting in a high-quality and challenging educational programme.
  • As a Master's student, you will receive top-level technical support and use state-of-the art laboratory facilities and field instrumentation. You will also have access to top-class computational tools for numerical and analogue modelling located at Utrecht University or at one of its major international partners.
  • Utrecht is the national focal point of Earth Sciences in the Netherlands with the university being situated in close proximity to several national applied Earth Sciences research institutes, with which there is active collaboration. This leads to numerous student internship opportunities.

Key facts

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

Dutch & EU/EEA students: 1 June

Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April

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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