SGL-80812 BSc Thesis Soil, Water, Atmosphere


Studiepunten 12.00

Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. CR Stoof
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. MJ van der Ploeg
dr. ing. BG Heusinkveld
prof. dr. J Wallinga
prof. dr. HGJ Gremmen
dr. ir. CR Stoof
Examiner(s)prof. dr. J Wallinga
dr. ir. CR Stoof

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

To start with the BSc thesis, the student must have a study progress of at least 102 credits of the mandatory and restricted optional part of the individual examination programme, including all credits of the first year programme and the credits mandatory prior knowledge as meant in Article 30 sub a of the Education and Examination Regulations Wageningen University 2017-2018 (general part) (OER). Thesis supervisors can demand additional required knowledge to allow students to select a specific topic.

Assumed knowledge on:

All compulsory BBW courses, in addition thesis supervisors may request specific courses as assumed knowledge.


The BSc thesis is a 12 credits course which offers student the opportunity to carry out an individual scientific research in the Soil, Water, Atmosphere domain. The students write a research proposal, carry out research, and present this research both written (thesis) and orally (symposium). The thesis is accompanied by an appendix discussing ethical aspects of the thesis topic (or a related issue).

Prior to the start of the course an introduction lecture will outline the course content and goals. After this lecture, students can indicate their preferred topic from a list of available topics. Based on the student preferences, the coordinators will assign topics to the students. The student and supervisor should agree on the research proposal (maximum 2 pages A4; suggested workload 1.5 credits), and submit it together with the BSc thesis contract to the BSc coordinator. He will evaluate the proposal (go / no-go), and provide feedback to student and supervisor. Parallel to this, lectures will be given on thesis writing skills, oral presentation skills (including propositions), and ethics. Students are advised to follow these courses.

The nature of the BSc thesis research may greatly vary, depending on the topic and the research group. In some cases, a small experiment or fieldwork will be carried out by the student, to gather new data that will be used. In many cases, students will work with existing datasets (e.g. time series, spatial data) that may need to be compiled and/or modified to allow the analyses of interest. Students will analyze the dataset, choosing appropriate methods and software to do so. Building on this analysis, they should come up with original solutions and answers to the research questions and suggestions for further research. The suggested total workload of the research is 5 credits; supervisors will mark the research skills of the students based on the thesis assessment form.

Students will prepare a thesis describing their research. The suggested total workload of writing the thesis is 3 credits. The thesis report is marked by the supervisor, who will judge the contents (as outlined above), as well as scientific reporting aspects (writing). The thesis should be accompanied by an ethics appendix, which discusses ethical aspects of the research topic. The suggested workload for attending the ethics lectures and preparing the ethics appendix is 1.5 credits. The ethics appendix is marked by the ethics lecturer; the supervisor is encouraged to provide feedback on the ethics appendix, but will not evaluate it. The BSc thesis research is presented orally at the BSc symposium. Students present their work, including a brief introduction on the topic, the methods used, results obtained, and the conclusions reached. In addition, students formulate three propositions related to their research topic, and defend these. Guidelines for propositions are provided separately. The performance at the symposium will be marked by the domain-coordinators, in some cases assisted by other lecturers.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this BSc thesis students are expected to be able to:
- apply knowledge and skills obtained in the Soil, Water, Atmosphere programme;
- interpret and find knowledge from the scientific literature in response to recognizing gaps in his or her knowledge;
- design a research project on the topic agreed with the supervisor;
- apply common research techniques, such as setting up (modelling) experiments and/or collecting and analysing data;
- obey scientific integrity throughout the project, and reflect on it with supervisor;
- prepare the contents and structure of a scientific report, under supervision:
a. describe the research topic and research questions;
b. describe the research methods, including the data used;
c. describe the most important findings;
d. interpret the findings in relation to the relevant literature;
e. draw conclusions; provide original answers to the research questions;
- reflect on the ethical aspects and societal context of the own research;
- orally present the research including results at the concluding symposium;
- discuss research and propositions at the concluding symposium;
- manage a research project within the available time.


Lectures; tutorials; reading scientific papers; working with existing dataset or acquire data by fieldwork, laboratory experiments or modelling; analyzing data; writing research proposal and thesis; orally present the results for fellow students and actively participate in discussion; reflect on ethical aspects in written assignment.


The final mark is based on: the research proposal (go/no-go), research competence (40%), thesis report (30%), oral presentation and discussion at symposium (20%) and ethics appendix (10%). The minimum partial grade for each component is 5.0. The detailed assessment form for grading is available on blackboard.


Lecture slides, additional information and study guide are all available on blackboard. Specific literature differs for each chosen topic; supervisors will provide some key literature as starting point.

Verplicht voor: BSWSoil, Water, AtmosphereBSc2WD+3WD, 5WD+6WD