Environmental Impact Assessment


About this course

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a legal instrument used to measure and manage the impacts of a proposed development on the environment and society. EIA was first implemented in the United States in 1969 and incorporated in the Dutch legislation in 1986. In the years since it has become the most powerful tool for ensuring that the environment and people are considered in the decision-making associated with proposed project development. EIA is now part of (almost) all national legal systems worldwide. With rapidly accelerating population growth and infrastructural development globally, the implementation and effectiveness of EIA are of significant importance.

EIA and strategic environmental assessments (SEA) are important and valuable applied environmental instruments. This course is pertinent to those who aim to work in environmental consultancies, who plan to work in the government sector, or are active members of the informed and environmentally concerned public.
This course also provides a relevant foundation for students interested in policy-making, sustainable development, and environmental law. This course is worthwhile and relevant to all, social scientists and physical scientists alike.

After an introduction to EIA, a focus on the differences between EIA and SEA will be presented. Examples and considerations for EIA in both the developed and developing world are presented. Several experts from the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) and academics with worldwide experience provide guest lecturers sharing their experiences in EIA. NCEA works both in the Netherlands and abroad. The guest lecturer in this course will share their experiences when they have acted as expert consultants to evaluate EIA proceedings of projects implemented in the global South. Next, impact-prediction methods, how these methods are used, and the possibilities and limitations to predicting impacts on the environment are presented. Environmental and social aspects are divided into the following themes: water, soil, biodiversity, climate change, social impact assessment, human rights, and cultural heritage. Possibilities for mitigation and compensation of project impacts are emphasized. Finally, the quality and added value of EIA and SEA are critically analyzed. Aspects such as context, participation, and communication, influence on the decision-making, quality criteria, will be considered. Finally, the course culminates by giving students the chance to act out what they learned through a serious roleplaying game.

Learning outcomes

Please note: the information in the course manual is binding.

After completion of the course, the student is able to:

  • Comprehend and critique the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Netherlands and abroad;
  • Recognize the formal (national and international) legal procedures and the political decision-making process associated with the EIA process;
  • Differentiate the roles and motivations of different stakeholders within EIA;
  • Distinguish the role of EIA in decision-making;
  • Examine and evaluate the content of an EIA/SEA;
  • Author and present several group assignments related to different steps within the EIA process;
  • demonstrate the methods of impact assessment and when it is appropriate to use them;
  • Implement skills in cooperation and negotiation through Serious Gaming: roleplay in a real-life EIA case

Good to know

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

Link to more information

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


  • Start date

    3 February 2025

    • Ends
      18 April 2025
    • Term *
      Period 3
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    Enrolment starts in 135 days
For guests registration, this course is handled by Utrecht University