Utrecht Graduate School of Geosciences
Physiological Chemistry Dpt.
Combining Biology and Earth Sciences This MSc programme is an interdisciplinary programme combining biology and earth sciences. It is designed for students with a Bachelor's degree in one of these disciplines and an interest in ecology, evolution, palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology/palaeooceanography. Using the past to forecast the future The programme focuses on 'system Earth' as a whole, studying the fundamental processes that drive natural systems – in particular those processes that have a strong impact on the biosphere and biodiversity. Emphasis is placed on the interaction between communities of living organisms and the changing lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Biogeologists use knowledge of processes that have affected the Earth in the past (e.g. the effects of climate change on the biosphere) to analyse future threats to our global system. Climate change and timescales Biogeology is expanding rapidly in response to the demand for knowledge about how the global ecosystem will develop in the next 50 to 500 years as a result of climate change. Traditionally, geologists deal with time spans of millions of years, whereas biologists deal with time spans of days to years. Biogeologists combine both, by studying processes in the past in extreme detail and by looking at contemporary and future processes on intermediate timescales of decades to centuries. This knowledge is essential if governments are to understand and assess future threats and take effective measures.