MSc Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology

IVM, together with colleagues from the VU’s Institute for Ecological Sciences and Department of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy, and the University of Amsterdam’s Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics, organizes the Master’s programme in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology (ECT). The ECT programme is offered as a specialization within the VU’s MSc Ecology.

The specialization Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology is a 2-year research Master’s programme that will teach you to evaluate the exposure to and effects of chemicals in the environment. The specialization integrates two disciplines: environmental chemistry and environmental toxicology. Environmental chemistry deals with the sources and fate of chemicals, as well as their environmental partitioning and transport, degradation and deposition. Analytical chemistry, the development of analytical methods to measure chemicals, is an important part of environmental chemistry. Environmental toxicology deals with effects on chemicals in the environment on wildlife and human health, covering the realm of effects ranging from molecular and cellular to whole organism and ecosystem effects. Students graduating from the ECT programme will be able to analyze, understand and manage the risks of chemicals in the environment, allowing them to pursue a career in research, private industry or chemical regulation.

The entry requirements and tuition fees of this specialization are the same as for the regular MSc Ecology. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of this specialization, students with a university Bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biology or related fields are eligible for entry into the programme. Students with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Sciences (i.e. from the Dutch “hogeschool” system) are also eligible. Students will be evaluated on an individual basis to determine eligibility. It is important to note that a number of courses in this specialization are provided in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and are taught at both locations. Students are encouraged to take optional courses and perform one of their two research traineeships outside the VU.


Compulsory courses:

  • Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology I (6ECT)
  • Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology II (6ECT)
  • Ecotoxicology and Water Quality (6 ECT)
  • Experimental Design and Analysis (6 ECT)
  • Scientific Writing in English (3 ECT)
  • Ethics (3 ECT)

Optional courses:

  • Spatial Processes in Ecology & Evolution (6 ECT)
  • Aquatic Ecology (6 ECT)
  • Environmental Genomics and Adaptation (6 ECT)
  • Masterclasses in Ecology and Evolution (3 ECT)
Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
  • Biogeochemical cycles  (6 ECT)
  • Assessment of Natural and Chemical Hazards  (6 ECT)
  • Environmental Measuring Techniques (6 ECT)
Analytical chemistry
  • Separation Sciences (6 ECT)
  • Molecular Spectroscopy (6 ECT)
  • Mass Spectroscopy (6 ECT))

Additional courses:
You can select one course from other programmes within or outside the VU, or extend your research project (6 ECT).

Research periods

  • Literature survey in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, 12 ECTs 
  • 1st research period in either environmental chemistry or environmental toxicology, 30 ECTs
  • 2nd research period in either environmental chemistry or environmental toxicology, 30 ECTs

For more information: Dr. Juliette Legler, programme coordinator, email:

You can also go to the poster of ECT for more information.