Soil, Water, Atmosphere (BSW) / BSc


Soil, Water, Atmosphere is a BSc programme in Earth Sciences and their applications. Its subject is the Earth and its significance to Man. The Wageningen programme traditionally puts more emphasis on the Earth's surface and the atmospheric boundary layer. It thus focuses on the structures and patterns found at the Earth's surface and on the physical, chemical and biological processes operating within and between the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere. In addition, Soil, Water, Atmosphere deals with the impact of human activities on the Earth and on the problem how to manage and use the Earth in a sustainable way. The pursued approach is based on natural sciences and both process and spatially oriented.
The education offered in this programme aims to pass on the knowledge, skills and academic attitude that enable its students to recognize, analyze and answer questions in the interrelated fields of soil, water and atmosphere. During the first two years of the programme, students acquire comprehensive knowledge of soil, water and atmosphere and thorough knowledge of mathematics, physics and chemistry. Attention is also given to integral approaches including biological aspects and spatial and temporal scaling. Fieldwork, excursions, and other forms of practical instruction make up an important part of the programme. In the third year, students may choose from a number of advanced courses in the fields of soil, water and atmosphere. Half a year of optional courses makes it possible to study a field of application in natural resource management, include a minor, or prepare for various master's degree programmes. The programme is concluded with an individual thesis.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this BSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- explain the mechanisms underlying processes operating on the Earth, and the resulting structures and patterns at the Earth's surface;
- explain the position of the Earth Sciences in relation to other fields of science and the role of earth scientists in society;
- apply physical, chemical, biological and spatial concepts and approaches that are used to describe and interpret phenomena, occurring at or near the Earth's surface;
- apply laboratory and field techniques, and mathematical, computational and statistical methods that Earth scientists commonly use;
- use common software as ArcGIS, Maple and SPSS for data acquisition, storage, analysis and modeling;
- analyze a problem in the field of soil, water, atmosphere by writing a research plan under supervision, including the main phases of scientific research such as collecting and reflecting on relevant scientific literature;
- apply procedural knowledge by executing research, such as processing and interpreting data and putting results in a wider context;
- execute projects effectively, both individually and as a member of a multidisciplinary team;
- interpret and explain present scientific research, both orally and in writing;
- assess problems and research by taking and defending a position and showing readiness to shift ground if necessary;
- demonstrate a responsible attitude by reflecting on social and ethical issues that arise in the field of Earth Sciences;
- design and plan their own learning path (under supervision).

Programme Director

Dr G.F. Epema
Phone: 0317-(4)80063

Study Adviser(s)

- Ir A.M. Leemans
Phone: 0317-(4)82171
- Dr ir K. Metselaar
Phone: 0317-(4)85322

Programme Committee

Chair: Dr ir A.F. Moene
Secretary: M.T. Jaartsveld


Study Association


Unconditional Admission to the MSc

MCL Climate Studies
MDR Development and Rural Innovation
MEE Earth and Environment
MGI Geo-information Science