Learn the Scientific Method in a changing climate


About this course

Many societal and scientific challenges relate to systems that are too complex to understand by simple reasoning. The unique path to unravel these systems is to apply the scientific method: motivating the research - posing a question and proposing a testable hypothesis - experimenting - analysing - confirming or refuting the hypothesis. These steps form a closed circle, which is the pillar of modern science.
The best way to understand how the scientific method works is to actually do science. Therefore, in this course we introduce the scientific method and we combine it with actual research. This way, the students practice science and develop their own skills in working with the scientific method:

  • The scientific method is a systematic way to perform research. Here, the historic and philosophy-of-science background is also taken into account.
  • The students do research in order to answer the overall research question "How does cloud formation change in a changing climate?".
  • The research is performed using the conceptual model CLASS which servers as a virtual laboratory.
    The course consists of six modules. In the first four modules the students are step-by-step introduced into both the meteorological background of the topic, as well as into the logic and history of the scientific method. Besides, students develop their personal checklist of properties of good scientific research. The experiments with the conceptual model serve to illustrate and practice the steps in the scientific method. Initially students are taken by the hand, but gradually they get more responsibility in making their own choices in the design of their research. In the final two modules the students design and perform their own research, supported by what they learned about the scientific method in the first four modules.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Apply a systematic research cycle while working on a scientific problem
  • Deduce a conceptual representation of processes in the atmospheric boundary layer combining theory and obtained results
  • Formulate a research proposal with particular emphasis on the research question, hypothesis and experimental design
  • Apply basic philosophy of science concepts to their research
  • Reflect on their personal priorities for good scientific research

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
For BSW students the course builds upon:
MAQ21806 Meteorology and Climate
MAQ22806 Atmosphere-Vegetation-Soil Interactions

For BES students the course builds upon:
MAQ11306 Air Quality

Link to more information

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


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      25 October 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 4 Aug 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University