Fundamentals of Landscapes


About this course

For thoughtful, sustainable and suitable landscape planning and design, it is essential to have a good understanding of the landscape itself. How is the landscape formed and what type of soils can you expect? How and where does the water flow, and what does the combination of soils and hydrology mean for land use and natural habitats? All these factors are related, and knowledge of how these relationships work can help you to design smart landscapes.
The focal point of this course is to understand the relationships between geology, hydrology, soil, vegetation, and land-use. The main focus is on lowlands and the low-lying coasts and river delta of the Netherlands as a typical example of a densely populated urbanized area. We will pay attention to both metropolitan and agricultural regions as well as areas reserved for nature conservation and nature development. We will use an integrated approach taught by a multidisciplinary team.
The course starts with lectures on geology and soil geography, hydrology, and ecology of plant communities and ecosystems, followed by discussion of four key landscape types. The theory will be supported by in-depth tutorials and illustrated during three field excursions, and the course is concluded with a real-world design exercise. All teaching material will be placed in the context of analysis, planning and design of landscapes in the Netherlands and worldwide. Note that this course does not cover landscape design and architecture itself, it rather provides the basic fundamental understanding you need in order to develop and design landscapes.

This course is a pre-master course for prospective students of the MSc program Landscape Architecture and Planning. It can be selected as an optional course by students from other programs, provided that there is no overlap with courses that you have taken previously. These courses include SGL-11303 Introduction to Soil Science, SGL-12803 Introduction to Soil Geography, HWM-10303 Water 1, SGL-23312 Landscape Geography, SGL-22306 Geology, Soils and Landscapes of the Northwest European lowlands, SGL-22803 Soils and Landscapes of the Netherlands. Motivated students that have taken only PEN 21803 (Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems & Landscapes – theory) and PEN-22303 (idem – excursions) may be eligible to participate if they contact the course coordinator and get permission to do an alternative exercise. When in doubt, please contact the course coordinator.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles of soil functioning and landscape formation, hydrology and plant ecology
  • Apply basic principles to four typical lowland landscapes, by identifying & analyzing interactions between soils, hydrology and ecology and their implications for land use – in- & outdoors
  • Integrate disciplinary & multidisciplinary knowledge gained to create a climate-proof landscape design for the province of Groningen

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
None. While there are no prerequisites for this course, students who have already completed soil, ecology and/or hydrology courses may be excluded from participation in the case of too much overlap. See 'Contents' for more information. When in doubt, please contact the course coordinator.

Link to more information

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


  • Start date

    10 February 2025

    • Ends
      7 March 2025
    • Term *
      Period 4
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 12 Jan 2025
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University