Climate Studies (MCL) / MSc


The MSc programme Climate Studies: Earth, Life and Society is justified by the observed changes in climate occurring across the Earth, the surge in research aimed at improved understanding of the climate system and its dynamics, and emerging questions about the impact of climate change on ecosystems and society.
In science, the debate no longer revolves around whether our climate will change but how it will change, how we can cope with the impact (adaptation), and how we can limit climate change in the long term (mitigation). These issues are important the world over and fuel a range of new challenges to natural and social sciences. Society needs answers to questions such as: How will climate change affect ecosystems and how will these in turn affect the climate system? What will be the effect on the availability of water and food? How will climate change issues set national and international political agendas? How will citizens, consumers, companies, and other social actors respond to climate change? What will be the economic costs of the impact and measures related to climate change, and how will these costs be distributed globally? Will new social and economic opportunities emerge in the process of adaptation? As these changes and challenges become ever more apparent, the demand for scientists who are able to understand and investigate them will rise. Wageningen University has therefore bundled expertise from several disciplines in an MSc programme specifically aimed at students who wish to focus on the scientific insights in climate change and its implications for economy and society.
Climate Studies: Earth, Life and Society not only covers the most important geophysical and biogeochemical processes involved in climate change (the mechanisms), but also the socio-economic aspects of causes and effects, as well as adaptation and mitigation as the main categories of societal response. Climate Studies is a thesis-oriented programme. Compulsory and restricted optional courses in the first year relate to research methodology, subject matter at different levels and the development of academic and professional skills. These courses serve as preparation for an individual academic internship and for individual thesis research, which demand a considerable degree of independence of the students. Climate Studies offers its students a wide range of thesis tracks. The following chair groups offer climate-change related research projects: Earth System Science, Environmental Systems Analysis, Meteorology and Air Quality, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management, Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology, Crop and Weed Ecology, Soil Biology, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources, and Environmental Policy. Cooperation with other groups is also possible.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate basic understanding of the science of the Earth's climate system and its regulating mechanisms, including physical, chemical, biological and socio-economic knowledge of the Earth system and insight into the major processes resulting in global change;
- distinguish between natural and anthropogenic driving forces and their effects on biogeochemical cycles and the climate system;
- apply the basic techniques of studying global change and climate variability (including statistics and modelling tools);
- demonstrate command of the social-scientific concepts that are relevant to understanding the interaction between climate change and society;
- use various methodological approaches to studying climate-related physical, socio-political and economic issues, including the prospects of mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change;
- independently formulate and execute research in accordance with academic standards, thus contributing to the development of the body of knowledge in the field;
- cooperate within a multidisciplinary team and contribute to the design and development of policy measures dealing with climate change and its effects on society;
- synthesize scientific information and research results, and communicate research results to both scientists and non-scientists;
- demonstrate an academic, critical attitude to opinions on the causes and effects of climate change, and the validity of arguments brought forward;
- demonstrate awareness of the widely divergent economic and cultural situations in which people live in different parts of the world and the effects that climate change, and measures to mitigate or adapt to it may have on their well-being;
- reflect on the ethical aspects of their research and plans for measures and interventions.
The graduate from this programme is well equipped to continue academic training as a PhD student or to start a career as a scientific professional at universities, research institutes, and environmental and governmental organizations. Applied climate change researchers and experts are needed by banks, insurance companies, the building industry, power companies, and authorities.

Programme Director

Ir Th.M. Lexmond
Phone: 0317-(4)83304

Study Adviser(s)

Drs A.R. van Amstel
Phone: 0317-(4)84815

Programme Committee

Chair: Prof. dr ir C.S.A. van Koppen
Secretary: Ir Th.M. Lexmond


Study Association