nl en

Earth System Science and Analysis


Admission requirements

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


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 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.

Course objectives

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.

  • USE Python to code to MODEL and INTERPRET basic aspects of the Earth system and system dynamics in general.

  • REPORT findings from individual codes and models.

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


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course will feature Lectures and workshops.
Lectures (included by invited guests) will introduce students to concepts and material, which will be complemented by readings and/or pre-recorded material. Lectures may also include interactive portions using Python programming and discusions with students.

Workshops will focus on learning and applying Python to Earth system problems, and will be used for students to work on assignments.

Assessment method

  • Take home individual assessment at the end of the course (5 out of 10 points).

  • Python assignments due during the course (5 our 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.

Reading list

Readings are introduced throughout the lecture.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator: Dr. J. Mogollón
Other involved teachers: Nicolas Navarre


MSc Industrial Ecology students can register for the course and exam via MystudyMap. Other students need to contact the study advisors of the programme via

Used software
This course will use a hybrid physical-online format and will be streamed using Kaltura, Zoom, or MS Teams (integrated into Brightspace). 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. Communications for the course, including major announcements will go via Brightspace.