Master in Earth Surface and Water

General

Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The Master’s programme in Earth Surface and Water involves the study of natural and human-induced physical and geochemical processes, patterns, and dynamics of the Earth’s continental and coastal systems. This two-year programme provides you with the knowledge that is essential to manage the planet sustainably, guarantee the availability of natural resources for future generations, and understand and avert natural hazards.

The main subject areas you will study consist of the dynamics of coastal and river systems, (geo-)hydrological processes, groundwater remediation, land degradation in drylands and mountainous regions, natural hazards, and delta evolution on centennial and longer timescales.

You can choose one of four tracks based on your interests in the field:

  • Geohazards and Earth Observation
    Land-degradation processes and natural hazards in and on the Earth's surface.
  • Coastal Dynamics and Fluvial Systems
  • Natural and human-induced processes, patterns, and products in the world's coasts and rivers.
  • Hydrology
    Movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth.
  • Environmental Geochemistry
    Processes that control the functioning of natural environments at the Earth's surface.

Core Areas of Research

The Earth Surface and Water programme trains students to quantitatively study the natural and human-induced physical and chemical processes, patterns, and dynamics of Earth’s continental and coastal systems as well as their responses to global change. Students explore and understand the modeling capabilities of the past, present, and future as well as the evolution of Earth’s environment, including human impact on this evolution.

In the programme, you will address questions such as:

  • How do river floods affect delta systems and their inhabitants?
  • How can we use natural processes under climate change to maintain safe - yet attractive and dynamic - coastlines?
  • How can satellite images be used to estimate erosion losses?
  • Will we have enough water to sustain the world’s rapidly increasing population in 2050?
  • What is the most efficient way to clean an oil spill that enters the soil and groundwater?

The programme trains students to combine field observations and laboratory experiments with the latest developments in remote sensing and computational methods. Research developed by our staff and students has a strong international profile, encompasses scales ranging from microscopic to global, and concerns both past and contemporary processes.

Programme Objective

Physical geographers, geochemists, and hydrologists are necessary to identify nature’s actions in our modern world, especially with society’s ever-increasing pressure on the natural environment. The Earth Surface and Water programme, therefore, focus on imminent societal problems, such as society’s increased vulnerability to climate and environmental changes and to natural hazards such as flooding, storms, and mass movements. It also addresses the threats and opportunities resulting from human activity in our physical environment, including the hydrological cycle.

Career Prospects

Many of our graduates go on to find employment in research. Depending on your personal interests and ambitions, you will be equipped to work in both fundamental and applied research. You can pursue a career in applied research in government institutes, consulting firms, or various industries. Typical professional profiles of our graduates include Physical Geographer, Geochemist, and Hydrologist.

Knowledge of coastal and river management, land use, natural resources, pollution, and hazard mitigation provides you with a good basis for understanding the past, present, and future evolution of Earth’s environment, including human impact on this evolution. The numerous environmental issues currently facing us mean you can pursue a variety of employment opportunities in diverse sectors.

Alumni survey

In 2017, Dimensus conducted an employability survey amongst ‘Earth Sciences’ alumni. The survey shows that graduate employability is high: 87% of participants have successfully found a first relevant job within six months after graduation. Most participants now work in the field of consultancy (38%), and academic and company research (41%). The majority of participants have a current monthly net income that ranges from 1500 to 2500 euros (62%), or 2500 to >3500 euros (30%). See an overview of the statistics below.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less