MSc track Earth System Science

February 17, 2023

At the University of Amsterdam the MSc Earth Science is split into two tracks, one of these is entitled: “Earth System Science”. Earth System Science is a research intensive track focused on understanding the fundamentals of abiotic and biotic interactions across the globe and through time. During this degree you will spend around 6 months studying to pick up specialist knowledge and skills, and around 18 months actively developing yourself – in your key areas of interest – through project work.

The taught part of the Earth System Science track includes courses such as:

  • The Earth System: Learn how to analyse Earth system function across space and through time.
  • Analysis & Modelling Lab: Develop skills in data handeling, analysis and modeling relevant to Earth science.
  • Biogeochemical Cycles in the Earth System: Study how the dynamics of carbon and nitrogen link to societal challenges.
  • Climate Change: Explore the scientific basis for climate change an its implications for the environment and society.
  • Environments Through Time: Consider and analyse environmental change on timescale relevant to landscapes, societies and climates.
  • GIS and Remote Sensing in Ecosystem Dynamics: Learn how to use large remotely sensed datasets to gain insights into geological, geomorphological and soil systems.
  • Click here for further details and a full list of courses.
Clare Lee (on one leg, left) during field course in Peru successfully published her literature review which she conducted as part of her MSc in Earth Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

In addition, free elective courses are possible from across the University of Amsterdam, or at other approved organizations or universities, i.e. it is possible to pick up skills in other specialisms (for example in languages, AI, or programming), or study a course at a university abroad, and have this included within your University of Amsterdam MSc Earth Science degree.

The project part of the Earth System Science track includes two research projects, or one research project and one internship with an external organization (such as a company or NGO). MSc research projects are often closely linked to active research within the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics. Some projects and literature reviews conducted by our MSc researchers reach a high enough level to be published in international scientific journals, either on there own or as part of a wider collaboration. Examples of recent papers including MSc researchers (highlighted in bold) are:

  • Lee, C.M., van Geel, B. & Gosling, W.D. (2022) On the use of spores of coprophilous fungi preserved in sediments to indicate past herbivore presence. Quaternary 5, 30. DOI: 10.3390/quat5030030
  • de Nijs, E.A. & Cammeraat, E.L. (2020) The stability and fate of Soil Organic Carbon during the transport phase of soil erosion. Earth-Science Reviews 201, 103067. DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2019.103067

New Look MSc Earth Sciences (University of Amsterdam)

February 8, 2023

The MSc Earth Sciences at the University of Amsterdam has a new look for the start of the next academic year (starting September 2023). Drawing on the international research expertise of our staff it is now possible to tailor your studies within two complementary tracks:

  • Earth System Science: Focused on fundamental aspects of Earth science, such as biogeochemical cycles, climate dynamics, and past environmental change. Our education follows our research in exploring how abiotic and biotic elements of the Earths system interact through time and across the globe.
  • Environmental Management: Focused on the interface between Earth science and society, key topics include: management of coastal systems, ecosystem dynamics in urban environments, and the relationship between science policy and ethics. During your internship you will have the opportunity to engage with societal partners to develop skills and projects.
Judith Kirschner completed a MSc Earth Science project on past fire activity, and now is a PhD researcher in fire dynamics at the European University of Cyprus.
Mo Adam examining sediments in the high Andes during the MSc Earth Science Geo-ecosystem Dynamics field course in Peru (2022).

For both tracks education is delivered through lectures, field courses, laboratory practical’s, and data analysis. Furthermore, you will get the chance to develop your own research agenda by conducting a project with one of our scientists, or at an external partner or university. In addition to expert knowledge our graduates have transferable skills in data handeling, numerical analysis, and science communication.

To find out more about our program visit click here to visit the MSc Earth Sciences pages on the University of Amsterdam web site.

Jobs: Two Assistant Professorships within Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics

December 7, 2022

I am pleased to announce two new vacancies within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. These position are part of a recruitment drive across the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics triggered by new funding from the Dutch government (Earth & Environmental Science Sector Plan). Both positions will be at the Assistant Professor level (either Tenure Track, or directly tenured following a period of probation; dependent upon the experience of the successful candidate). For full detail, and how to apply, check out the below links:

Closing date: 8th January 2023

These positions are designed to compliment, and strengthen, existing expertise within the department in biogeochemistry, Earth surface science, landscape ecology and palaeoecology. We are looking for scientists who are engaged with laboratory, field and/or modelling focused research, have a proven track record of publishing, and are looking for a base to build their own research group. We are looking for enthusiastic and innovative educators keen to lead and develop practical and field based courses and projects for students in our BSc Future Planet Studies and MSc Earth Sciences degree programs.

If you have any question please do not hesitate to get in contact with me directly: William D. Gosling

If you are interested to join IBED but feel you do not fit to one of these position check out our other vacancies at by clicking here.

JOB: Assistant Professorship in Climate-Vegetation Dynamics

September 3, 2021

I am excited to announce that we are looking for an expert in climate systems, with experience of computational modelling, to join our team in the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (ELD) at the University of Amsterdam. ELD is one of four research departments within the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics which seeks to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity. The successful applicant will deliver climate related education within our BSc Future Planet Studies and MSc Earth Sciences programs, and conduct cutting edge research. We are looking for a collaborative researcher who can establish research links with existing staff members and inspire students.

For full details and how to apply visit:

Closing date: Monday 11 October

Interviews likely to be conducted in Amsterdam: 27 and 29 October.

PhD: African palaeoclimatology

July 8, 2021

Location: Leibniz-Institut für Angewandte Geophysik
Team including: Thomas Wonik, Christian Zeeden, Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr, William Gosling

We are looking for a researcher with a geosciences background to explore the physical properties of the sediments recovered from Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana). The Lake Bosumtwi sediments we recovered by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program in 2004 and have been found to span the last c. 1.07 million years (Koerbel et al., 2005). This project will examine the borehole data and relate this ongoing palaeoenvironmental studies at the site (Miller & Gosling, 2014; Miller et al., 2016).

For further details see:

Deadline for applications: 31/07/2021

Continue Reading

Environments Through Time – weeks 2 & 3

November 19, 2017

Britte reconfiguring the chronology for Lake Pata

Britte reconfiguring the chronology for Lake Pata

The second and third weeks of the Environments Through Time course at the University of Amsterdam has focused on obtaining practical experience of developing chronologies, analyzing multi-variate data-sets, and conducting time series analysis. The focus of the course has been on Quaternary environmental change, however, the skills learnt can be applied to almost any time-scale so long as you have time control points you want to tie together, and multiple things you can track changing through that time.

Over the two week period the students worked on a previously published paper that they had selected that contains: (i) chronological information (at least 3 control points), and (ii) multiple variables that change through the time series (at least 9 variables). In week two they deconstructed the chronologies and generated their own revised versions. For example students have (re-)calibrated radiocarbon dates, made different decisions on dates to include/exclude, and used different approaches to constructing the age vs. depth model, e.g. contrasting linear point-to-point vs. Bayesian methodologies. In week three they have taken the data-set(s) associated with their paper and re-evaluated it in light of the revised chronologies using cluster analysis, ordination techniques, and wavelets.

The joy of wavletes

The joy of wavletes

Through this exercise students have gained experience of how to critically assess scientific literature and gained an appreciation of where re-analysis of data-sets can (and cannot) make a difference. Personally I have be delighted with the high level of engagement and enthusiasm for the material and have been excited to have a chance to delve into literature that I would not otherwise be aware of.

For more information on this course see: Environments Through Time – week 1


Introducing Corine Driessen

July 7, 2015

DriessenCHi Everyone,

It’s very nice to be invited to write something for this blog, let me introduce myself a little bit.

I am a MSc Earth Sciences student at the University of Amsterdam. Currently I am working on my master thesis at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, under supervision of Niels Raes, Willem Renema and William Gosling. We are looking at species migration between Australia and Asia during the Miocene, and we compare it to migration between N and S America at the dawn of the Great American Biotic Interchange. To do so I’m analysing data on fossil occurrences in Australia and Southeast Asia. Hopefully this research will lead to interesting new insights.

Before starting my MSc Earth Sciences I did a bachelor in Biology at Leiden University. I decided to do a master’s in Earth Sciences because it offered a broader perspective of the natural world and its processes.

I like analysing and sorting out data like I’m currently doing for my thesis with fossil occurrence data. It also played a major role in my internship at TNO – Caribbean Branche Office, where I was involved in starting a database containing information on Aruba’s subsurface. During my internship I also experienced the “Green Aruba” conference and was involved in organising a geological excursion for some of the attendants. I am very interested in environmental issues and solutions, such as the transition to renewable energy. New technologies spike my interest a lot and I like being aware of innovations in a whole lot of fields.

Hopefully I will have my thesis ready within a couple of months, and can give an update about some of the findings.


Blog at