SOC-23306 Principles of Earth and Ecosystem Science


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. M Hagens
Lecturer(s)dr. M Hagens
dr. ir. LN Ganzeveld
Examiner(s)dr. M Hagens

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

No specific assumed knowledge. Knowledge on biology, chemistry and physics at the secondary education level may be advantageous but is by no means required.

Continuation courses:

SOC-36306 Biogeochemical Cycles and Climate Change Mitigation


This course is intended for students with a non-natural science background who want to understand the basics of the natural sciences related to global change issues. For example, this course is not intended for BSW or BBI students, but aims at students who do not have a background in soil science, hydrology and/or ecology. This course provides a conceptual basis for understanding abiotic and biotic processes, mostly in terrestrial ecosystems, and their sensitivity to global change. Lectures will cover:
- the ecosystem concept;
- Earth's climate system;
- geology and soils;
- soils and global change;
- terrestrial water and energy balance;
- photosynthesis and plant growth;
- decomposition of organic matter;
- plant nutrient use; and nutrient cycling;
- temporal and spatial ecosystem dynamics;
- terrestrial versus aquatic ecosystems;
- global biogeochemical cycles;
- introduction to Earth system modelling.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of the major abiotic and biotic processes in terrestrial ecosystems;
- demonstrate insight into feedback mechanisms;
- develop a simple ecosystem model;
- perform calculations related to major abiotic and biotic processes in terrestrial ecosystems;
- assess the effects of Global Change on ecosystems.


- attend lectures and study of course book;
- online self-tests;
- exercises (analysing data sets, model computation);
- assignments during tutorials and computer practicals (questions on theory and model results).


- written test with open questions (100%);
- hand in assignments of tutorials and computer practicals (pass/fail).


Chapin III, F. Stuart; Matson, Pamela A.; Vitousek, Peter M. (2012). Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. 2nd ed. 529 p. Springer New York, ISBN 978-1-4419-9504-9; ISBN 978-1-4419-9502-5.

Restricted Optional for: MCLClimate StudiesMSc1AF
Restricted Optional for: WUCLCBSc Minor Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Society1AF