Programme structure and mobility

IMSOGLO is a 2 year Master of Science programme containing 120 ECTS credits and leading to the joint diploma of International Master in Science in Soils and Global Change. IMSOGLO is organized by 4 European universities and involves mobility between these partner universities.

The language of instruction is English.

IMSOGLO students jointly follow the 1st semester at Ghent University to obtain and supplement their fundamental soil science knowledge. The 1st semester is kicked off by the 1-week joint Primer Event during which students are introduced to the programme, and get to know each other and staff members of all 4 partner universities. The remaining semesters are spent either at Ghent University (Belgium) and Aarhus University (Denmark) for the specialization Physical Land Resources and Global Change, or at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) (Austria) and the University of Göttingen (Germany) for the specialization Soil Biogeochemistry and Global Change.

The 2nd and 3rd semester consist of mandatory and elective courses, deepening the students’ knowledge and skills in the chosen specialization, and broadening the students’ knowledge and skills. Additionally, students from both specializations will meet again during the Summer School between the 1st and 2nd year. The 4th semester will be devoted to the master thesis. All IMSOGLO theses are supervised by supervisors of at least 2 partner universities.


IMSOGLO contains two Specializations, to be chosen at application stage.

The Specialization Soil biogeochemistry and global change is organized by Ghent University (Belgium), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (Austria) and the University of Göttingen (Germany) and leads to a joint master diploma issued by these three universities.


microbiology; agroforestry; agro-ecology; lab experimentation.

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The Specialization Physical land resources and global change is organized by Ghent University (Belgium) and Aarhus University (Denmark), and leads to a joint master diploma issued by these two universities.


Prevention and remediation of soil degradation in an agricultural context; Land evaluation for ecosystem functioning; Soil water & C-cycles in an agricultural context; Modelling soil water and element fluxes and soil development for various vegetations.

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Programme Learning Outcomes

In a few words: IMSOGLO graduates have the knowledge and skills to characterize soils and understand soil evolution in an ecosystem context under global change because they understand the underlying processes and interactions.

In detail: IMSOGLO graduates will…

  1. possess a broad knowledge at an advanced level in basic disciplines (soil physics, soil biogeochemistry, land information systems, meteorology and climatology);
  2. understand the evolution of soil (agro-/forest/natural) ecosystems under natural conditions and human-impact, as well as its relation to global change;
  3. have the ability to characterise soil physically, biologically and chemically, using advanced techniques to understand soil processes, to translate this to soil quality and to assess the influences by and on natural and anthropogenic factors;
  4. possess the basic methods to conduct field work (soil survey, soil profile description, soil sampling), interpret analytical data, classify the soil, and manage and interpret existing geospatial (soil) data;
  5. have the ability to plan and execute target orientated experiments or simulations independently and critically evaluate the collected data;
  6. possess a holistic understanding of interactions and processes in the agro-ecosystem and natural ecosystems, using statistical tools and advanced (geospatial) information- and modelling techniques;
  7. have the ability to act from a researchers’ perspective: creativity, accuracy, critical reflection, curiosity, justification of choices based on scientific criteria;
  8. have the ability for independent integration and extension of acquired knowledge to update concepts and innovate implementation possibilities, knowing the limits of own competences;
  9. have the ability to participate in and lead interdisciplinary groups that contribute the development of sustainable environmental solutions at local, regional and global scale;
  10. possess qualifications for employment in private and public-sector companies and organisations where high level expertise in soil management is required;
  11. have the ability to communicate, orally and written, in words and in graphs, on the own discipline to experts and the general public.

IMSOGLO graduates who followed the specialization Biogeochemistry will additionally be able to …

  1. sample, measure and describe basic concepts of biogeochemistry, in particular element cycles and fluxes in (agro-) ecosystems;
  2. recognise the impact of soil properties and processes on plant nutrition and health;
  3. evaluate the role of trees in land use systems, with particular emphasis on agroforestry;
  4. develop appropriate field designs and experimental procedures to address testable hypotheses;
  5. design, apply and evaluate experiments using both stable and radioactive isotopes;
  6. understand the role of soil microorganisms for soil properties and plant nutrition in relation to their activities in the environment.

IMSOGLO graduates who followed the specialization Physical Land Resources will additionally be able to…

  1. describe and model the soil water cycle and its relation to soil degradation and soil management;
  2. design soil water management strategies under a changing climate;
  3. recognise soil threats and to identify promising ecosystem services for a field situation;
  4. measure and model erosion risk, soil compaction and the other soil threats identified by the EU;
  5. characterise the relation between the C-cycle and the climate at different scales;
  6. apply land evaluation techniques to identify and choose between promising land management alternatives in a regional context.

Detailed programme overview

2022 -2023

Master year 1

SEMESTER 1Soil FundameltalsGhent University30 ECTS
TypeCourseLecturerCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryPedologyPeter Finke5
MandatorySoil ChemistryFilip Tack5
MandatorySoil PhysicsWim Cornelis5
MandatoryLand Information SystemsFrieke Vancoillie5
MandatorySoil GenesisPeter Finke5
MandatoryApplied StatisticsAisling Daly5

Depending on the chosen specialization:

Specialization 1

Soil Biogeochemistry and Global Change

TypeCourseLecturerCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryEcosystem Dynamics and their Effect on Greenhouse GasesSophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern3
MandatorySoil ProtectionWalter Wenzel3
MandatorySustainable Land Use in Developing CountriesGeorg Gratzer3
MandatoryGlobalisation and Rural DevelopmentMartin Kniepert3
Mandatory Soil Problems in Aridic and Semiaridic Regions Eugenio Diaz-Pines3
MandatorySummer School or Field workPeter Finke3
Elective courses (pick four for 12 ECTS)
Possible Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources
Hubert Holzmann3
ElectiveEnvironmental Risk Analysis and ManagementHans-Peter Nachtnebel3
ElectiveValuation Methods for Natural ResourcesUlrich Morawetz3
ElectiveSoil Management in Tropical and Subtropical Developing RegionsEugenio Diaz-Pines3
ElectiveSoil Fertility and Soil Ecology in Organic AgricultureJürgen Kurt Friedel3
ElectiveAgroforestry in Mountain RegionsGeorg Gratzer3
ElectiveField Trip – Rural Water Management Michael Stockinger1
ElectiveForest Soil BiologyAndreas Schindlbacher3
ElectiveSoil Microbiology CourseKatharina Keiblinger4

Specialization 2

Physical land resources and Global Change

SEMESTER 2Ghent University30 ECTS
TypeCourseLecturerCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryClimate ChangeDirk Verschuren4
MandatorySoil Water ManagementWim Cornelis5
MandatorySoil DegradationAnn Verdoodt5
MandatoryLand EvaluationAnn Verdoodt5
MandatorySummer School or Field workPeter Finke3
Elective courses (pick two for 8 ECTS)
ElectiveEconomics and Management of Natural ResourcesStijn Speelman4
ElectiveSoil Prospection Stefaan Dondeyne4
ElectiveDare to VentureJohan Verrue4
ElectiveScientific CommunicationGeert Jacobs5
ElectiveInternshipSteven Sleutel5

Master year 2

Specialization 1: Soil Biogeochemistry and Global Change

SEMESTER 3University of Göttingen30 ECTS
TypeCourseLecturerCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryLandscape EcologyDaniela Sauer6
MandatoryManagement of Tropical Plant Production SystemsReimund Rötter6
MandatoryMineral Nutrition of Crops under Different Climate and Environmental ConditionsKlaus Dittert6
Elective courses (pick two for 12 ECTS)
ElectivePesticides IIAndreas von Tiedemann6
ElectiveSoil Biogeochemistry of AgroecosystemsMartin Maier6
ElectiveBiochemical Processes in the RhizosphereEvgenia Blagodatskaya3
ElectiveCrop Modelling for Risk ManagementReimund Rötter6
ElectiveIsotopes in Ecosystem Sciences (e-learning)Michaela Anna Dippold6
ElectiveEcosystem - Atmosphere ProcessesAlexander Knohl6
ElectivePlant Nutrition and Plant HealthKlaus Dittert3
ElectiveField Course on Man-Environment InteractionsDaniela Sauer6

Specialization 2: Physical land resources and Global Change

SEMESTER 3Aarhus University30 ECTS
TypeCourseLecturerCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryAssessing Soil Erosion RiskGoswin Heckrath5
MandatoryGlobal soil threats and ecosystem services Bo V. Iversen10
MandatoryCarbon Cycling and Climate ChangeMathias N. Andersen10
Elective courses (pick one for 5 ECTS)
ElectiveClimate Through Earth's HistoryMarit-Solveig Seidenkrantz5
ElectiveOpen Project Work in Soil Physics/5
ElectiveBioactive Molecules in Agroecology Inge S. Fomsgaard5
ElectiveSoil-classificationMogens Humlekrog Greve5
Elective Arctic soils (Field trip Greenland) Lis W. de Jonge5

Specialization 1: Soil Biogeochemistry and Global Change

TypeCourseInstitutionCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryMaster thesisBOKU30
MandatoryMaster thesisUniversity of Göttingen30

Specialization 2: Physical land resources and Global Change

TypeCourseInstitutionCredits (ECTS)
MandatoryMaster thesisGhent University30
MandatoryMaster thesisAarhus University30