Global Environmental Change


About this course

The primary drivers of global environmental change are demographic and economic pressures related to human activity. Area distributions designated to urbanization, agriculture and nature have consequences for processes in the soil, water and atmosphere. Global environmental challenges that arise from these process changes are, for example, climate change, soil and water pollution, (ocean) acidification, nutrient enrichment and habitat fragmentation. These global challenges may in turn alter the dynamics in many aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, in terms of quality (levels of contamination, richness) and functioning (cycling of materials, nutrients, energy flows).
In this way human activities cause deterioration of life-support functions and productivity in ecosystems, and they can cause declines in biological diversity on various scales (regional-global) and levels of ecological organization (species, communities, ecosystems, landscapes).

The course will especially pay attention to five theories related to environmental change (Biodiversity, Catastrophc shifts, Population theory, Climate feedbacks and Risk assessment). The five theories will be illustrated by in depth analysis of five thematic environmental problems: (Eutrophication, Desertification, Nature conservation, Climate adaptation/mitigation, Microplastics). The theories-problems combinations may change from one year to the other.The study focus is directed towards how to develop, adopt and apply strategies counteracting adverse environmental effects and leading to sustainable restoration and conservation of the quality and functioning of ecological systems.

This course is an entry requirement for:
Research Project ECE (GEO4-2335)
Master's thesis SUSD (GEO4-2321)

Learning outcomes

Please note: the information in the course manual is binding.
After completion of the course the student:

  • has gained an in depth insight in processes and mechanisms and recent developments in scientific research related to environmental change;
  • can analyse cause-effect-mechanism chains related to the interrelationships between humans, environment and biodiversity;
  • can identify future research directions related to environmental change that have a high societal and scientific relevance
  • is able to write an opinion paper on a topic related to environmental change;
  • can orally present and discuss issues related to environmental change on a high academic level.

Good to know

Do you study at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) or Wageningen University and Research (WUR)? You can enrol via

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

  • Assigned study entrance permit for the master

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      8 November 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      3 Jun, 09:00 - 21 Jun 2024
    Enrolment starts in 5 days
These offerings are valid for students of TU Eindhoven