By Britt Kriesch
Course: MSc Climate Studies
Level: Postgraduate, MSc
University: Wageningen University and Research (WUR)
Length: 24 months (180 credits)
Location: Wageningen, the Netherlands
The study program focuses on a deeper understanding of climate change and its impact on ecosystems and society. There are five specializations you can choose during the course;
- The Physical Climate System
- Biogeochemical Cycles
- Ecological and Agroecological Systems
- Human-Environment Interaction
- Climate, Society and Economics
These specializations range from a focus on natural sciences to social sciences. There are mandatory courses for each specialization that you need to follow, but there is also some freedom to choose your own courses. Therefore, it is wise to choose courses within a chair group where you want to write your thesis or do an internship. I am currently doing the Ecological and Agroecological Systems specialization and am writing my thesis in the Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality chair group.
The first year consists of 60 credits and is divided into six periods of either two months or one month. Because of this, you only take two courses at the same time and you can completely focus on those specific topics. During this year, you take mandatory courses for Climate Studies students, courses related to your specialization. You also enroll in a large group project called Design of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies where you experience what it is like to work as a consultant in the field while working with real organizations outside Wageningen University.
The second-year consists of a thesis worth 36 credits (24 weeks) and an internship of 24 credits (16 weeks). Because the course is two years long, you are able to complete both a thesis and an internship. This makes it possible to really gain experience in both types of research and working in the field with organizations.
- What did you like most about the course?
I enjoyed the fact that there was so much freedom in choosing your courses alongside the mandatory courses. I tried other subjects such as programming in addition to my specialization, which can be a useful skill when it comes to future work on climate change.
- What did you do before this course? Are there any specific requirements for being able to apply to and take this course?
I did my BSc in Environmental Sciences, also at Wageningen University. I was an active member of the Study Association. Many activities were organized by students for other students of environmental sciences. I really enjoyed helping new students in choosing their studies during the open days and walk-along days. For me, Climate Studies was one of the courses I could continue after my bachelor’s without other requirements, which made it a very logical choice. If you want to join this course you need to speak English well enough, but the course is very multi-disciplinary so most backgrounds will be accepted.
What sort of work are you doing (e.g. more group work/more individual work; more project-based work/more essay writing etc.)?
Wageningen University is well known for its large amount of group work. The grades do not always consist of only an exam but are divided over multiple assignments and presentations. It really differs by course – if you take a social course it consists of writing papers, but for the natural science courses you could be in the lab or in the field.
- Is there anything you would change about the course?
In the beginning of the program, I had the feeling that there was a lot of repetition for me. I think it would be a good option to give people who already have a broad background in climate studies an opportunity to take courses other than the introduction to gain more knowledge.
- Why did you choose this course over other courses you may have been?
I wanted to stay in Wageningen because I had the feeling Wageningen University was more focused on sustainability and life sciences compared to other universities in the Netherlands. For me, the choice was between the program of Environmental Sciences and Climate Studies, and I found that Climate Studies offered the best courses for me. Also, the focus of this program lies more in climate change and related issues than environmental quality, which is my preference.
- What is life at this university like?
I really enjoy my time in Wageningen! The city is very small and you get to know people really fast. There are many associations and activities you can join to make friends and expand your network. The university offers many opportunities to gain experiences beyond your own studies such as joining and organizing activities to gain more knowledge in your field. Everything is very close in Wageningen and you can go everywhere by bike. There are some sustainable shops such as a waste-free supermarket and there is a farmers market that takes place every Wednesday and Saturday.
- What are you planning on doing after you’ve graduated/what are you currently doing if you have graduated? What are typical jobs graduates do after completing the course?
I would like to continue with forest and land management to maintain and restore important ecosystems, either in the academic field or within a company. There is a broad range of jobs students can work in when finished with this course. This can be international, but also within Dutch companies such as Arcadis and Witteveen+Bos. With a social background, you can work within governmental organizations as well. Your career path will depend much on your specialization.
*Featured Image Courtesy of Ananya Iyer