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Earth System Science and Analysis


Title course: Earth System Science and Analysis

Coordinator(s): Dr. J. Mogollón
Other involved teachers: Dr. L. Scherer and Nicolas Navarre.

Entry requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University).

Description course

This course provides knowledge on the Earth system as viewed through 4 spheres (biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere), including Earth’s evolution over the 4.5 billion years of its existence, and highlighting the importance of the carbon, nutrient, and water cycles for life on our planet. It introduces students to planet Earth and its resources, from a system dynamics perspective, and as a guiding analogy for sustainable systems. The course follows an interdisciplinary approach that blends biological, chemical, and physical perspectives not just qualitatively, but also quantitatively using Python programming. Finally, this course also introduces students to Earth System Models, their capabilities, and limitations.

Learning goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • DESCRIBE Earth’s 4 spheres, including how they interact and shape the Earth System.

  • DISCUSS the pressures currently affecting the Earth system.

  • DEFINE and refine research questions about the Earth system.

  • WORK WITH Python to code and model basic aspects of the Earth system and system dynamics in general.

  • REPORT with a group findings from individual codes and models.

  • DEMONSTRATE analytical, critical, and system’s thinking.

Education format

The course will feature Lectures and workshops.

Interactive lectures (included by invited guests) will introduce students to concepts and material, which will be complemented by readings and/or pre-recorded material.

Workshops will focus on the principles of modelling in the context of the Earth system in Python, and will be used for students to work on assignments.

Assessment forms

  • Take home individual assessment (5 out of 10 points).

  • Assignment 1
    o Individual Python code and results (1.5 out of 10 points)
    o Group summary (0.5 out of 10 points)

  • Assignment 2
    o Individual Python code and results (2 out of 10 points)
    o Group summary (1 out of 10 points)

The final assessment and assignment grades are rounded to the nearest decimal. Final grades are rounded to the nearest half. The grade 5,5 cannot be granted. Grades between 5,01 and 5,49 are rounded to 5,0 and grades between 5,50 and 5,99 are rounded to 6,0.

A minimum success rate of 6 for the entire course is necessary to pass the course.

Note that retakes are only possible for the take home individual assessment.


Readings are introduced throughout the lecture.

Brightspace/MS Teams

This course uses Brightspace, and Microsoft Teams. Course documents, the course manual can be found via Brightspace. To get access to the Brightspace page of this course, you first need to register via uSis.
Communication throughout the course will happen mostly via Teams, although major announcements will also be posted on Brightspace.


This course is open for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University). Students can register for the course and exam via uSis.