General presentation & benefits
Program of studies & organisation
Admission & fellowships

SEC poster

MASTER Program Year M1

Academic year 2017-2018

A track common to the Master programs
"Earth, Planetary & Environmental Sciences"
“Environmental, Energy & Transportation Economics

With the participation of Polytechnique's Departments:
- Applied Maths
- Biology
- Economy
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Innovation, Management & Entrepreneurship
- Mechanics
- Physics

Program directors:
Prof. Claude Basdevant
Phone: +33 (0)1 69 33 58 21

Prof. Riwal Plougonven
Phone: +33 (0)1 69 33 51 90

General presentation

The impact of human activities on the environment and the challenge of sustainable development have become pervasive issues in our modern society. No decision, either political or economic, at the international, national or local, collective or individual levels, can ignore environmental and ecological considerations.
The needs of expertise and scientific research to enlighten the themes of environment and sustainable development as well as to help the decision-making process are today considerable. This expertise has to base itself on a solid interdisciplinary scientific training. Indeed, our physical and biological environment is an extremely complex system whose elements are in constant interactions. Most of these interactions are strongly non linear and with an important stochastic component: for instance, this is the case between human activities, climate and animal or plant biodiversity, not to mention social considerations or migrations of populations. Furthermore, the understanding of environmental problems involves various disciplines which must be able to dialogue and interact on a solid scientific base, as illustrated for example by the work of three groups of the IPCC on climate or the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s work, an expertise dealing with the behaviour of ecosystems and listing the major ecosystemic services on which our societies rely on.

The environment and sustainable development are structuring issues for companies’ strategy, notably in terms of innovation policies in numerous economic sectors: transport, energy generation, infrastructural development, natural resources management, the phytosanitary industry, the food-processing industry… These companies, as well as public or territorial authorities, need engineers, researchers, decision-makers trained on an interdisciplinary base particularly in mathematical modelling, and able to take advantage of its developments.
For its part, basic and applied research has considerably developed and made real advances in the last decades on many aspects of these environmental problems. However, these developments have been too often made on a disciplinary base; nonetheless, their permanent feature was a strong development of mathematical tools and modelling.

Research has now to strongly integrate interdisciplinarity to be able to tackle successfully the interactions between physical, biological, economic and social aspects, for example in order to study, understand and plan the interactions between climatic modification, biodiversity and economy.


The aim of the Sciences for Environmental Challenges program, first year of Master's degree, is to allow students to address the environmental scientific challenges on an interdisciplinary base by familiarizing them with knowledge and tools in areas which can be theoretical, experimental, or based on mathematical modelling.
It will allow them to implement these tools through several examples: populations management, energetic sector, climate change, water management, services to the environment.....
Therefore, this program is organized around three main facets of the environment: Biodiversity and Ecology, Geophysical Environment, Environmental Economy and Management.
It is then asked to the students to approach at least two of these themes while defining himself or herself a personal major.

The Master's degree Sciences for Environmental Challenges is supported by the Education and Research Chairs at Ecole Polytechnique:
• Chair of Sustainable Development – EDF (the second largest electric utility company in the world)
• Chair of Mathematics Modelling and Biodiversity – VEOLIA, The Muséum National
• Chair for Business Economics - Dupont de Nemours, GDF-Suez, Lafarge, Unilever
It is also supported by the CNES (the French National Centre for Space Studies).

The Sciences for Environmental Challenges program is a member of the Climate-KIC program of the European Union (Knowledge and Innovation Community in Climate), which offers several possibilities to develop technologies and innovations in assessing climate change and managing its drivers. Following the program you may obtain the Master label Climate-KIC.

Acquired skills and further studies

The Sciences for Environmental Challenges program has a non-specialized vocation and therefore, is potentially a gateway to a very wide range of career opportunities in public and private sectors, in research as in industry. You will find below, second years of Master's programs that are in direct continuity with SEC’s teachings and objectives. Beyond a Master's degree it is recommended to continue with research studies; the research center of the Ecole Polytechnique offers, for example, numerous possibilities to prepare a PhD on a subject connected to the environment.

Second year of Master's degrees jointly authorized by the Ecole Polytechnique or its partners
WAPE – Water, Air, Pollution and Energy at local and regional scales – international track of the Master OACOS (Ocean, Atmosphere, Climate and Spatial observation)
EEET / EDDEE - Économie de l'environnement de l'énergie et des transports (anciennement Économie du développement durable de l'énergie et de l'environnement)
REST – Renewable Energy Science and Technology
EBE - Ecology, Biodiversity and Evolution
MathsSV – Mathematics for Life Sciences
Mathematical modelling (track :« Mathematics Applied to biological and medical sciences »)
PIC - Projet Innovation, Conception

To get into WAPE / OACOS it is recommended to take the theme of Geophysical Environment as major and to have sufficient qualifications in fluid mechanics.
Selected students of the WAPE program will have the opportunity to spend their fall semester (September to December) in New-York (USA), following lectures at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES) of Columbia University. They will then come back to Paris in January to finish their WAPE program.

To get into EEET / EDDEE it is recommended to take the theme of Economy and Management of the Environment as major and to have sufficient qualifications in economy.
The REST Master’s program requires a good basic training in physics.
To get into EBE as for MathsSV, Biodiversity and Ecology is recommended as major, with in addition a good basic training in mathematics for MathsSV.

Job opportunities

The Sciences for Environmental Challenges program opens up career opportunities in research, as well as in engineering positions connected to themes such as biodiversity, environment, natural resources and to their management:
• State bodies
• Project manager and jobs related to research and development in a company or in an academic environment
• Conception and Production in companies
• Environmental Management policies
• Ambitious projects and technological challenges
• Audit and consulting

PhD program
With the support of the École Polytechnique Foundation, École Polytechnique offers a five-year long program leading to a PhD degree. This PhD program is designed to develop outstanding students for careers in leading academic institutions or top companies throughout the world. If interested contact as soon as possible the program directors. Deadline for application: April 30th. For details refer to

Organisation and program of studies

The program is organised in distinct courses, yet in interaction, illustrating the necessary dialogue between disciplines, between science and technology, theory and applications, research, industry and society. Advanced courses (EA) on a comprehensive variety of topics are the opportunity, after possibly some introductory sessions, for a personal or in binomial supervised work on an experimental, bibliographical or numerical project, giving rise to a written report and an oral defence. The Sciences for Environmental Challenges program is completed by conferences and visits of industrial areas and ends with a research internship.

The academic year is divided into three periods: P1 (September-December), P2 (January-March) and P3 (April-July). For each of the periods P1 and P2, the students have to follow three courses and one advanced course (EA). The courses are proposed within the three themes: Biodiversity and Ecology, Geophysical environment and Environmental Economy and Management. The students are required to choose a scientific base of a minimum of four courses (among six) in one of these themes and to complete it by approaching at least another theme.

Students realize along the first two periods a scientific project (8 ECTS). This project which may be bibliographical, numerical or experimental can be done alone or in binomial.

Students complete their scientific courses during period P1 with a module of foreign language or "French as a foreign language" (3 ECTS) proposed by the department of Languages and Cultures.

Period P3 (April – July) is devoted to a research internship in France or abroad.

Please note that several courses or advanced courses (EA) have limited capacities. In case of overflow of students per course or in-depth-courses, the students will be selected on the basis of motivations they will have expressed.

First period offer -P1- Courses (4 ECTS)

Biodiversity and Ecology
BIO555 Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
BIO556 Genomes: diversity, environment and human health
Geophysical Environment
MEC558 Continental hydrology and water resources
PHY550 Solid Earth and environment
MEC559 Mechanics for Wind Energy
Economy and Management of the Environment
ECO572 Environmental economics and environmental policy in cities
PHY555 Energy and environment

First period offer -P1- Advanced courses (4 ECTS)

MIE577 Organisations strategies and sustainable development
MEC577 Porus Media
MEC571 Climate system dynamics: scientific problems and society challenges
MEC573 Wind, solar and hydraulic potential: cases studies

Second period offer -P2- Courses (4 ECTS)

Biodiversity and Ecology
BIO562 Genetics, Reproduction, Cloning and Evolution
Random models in Ecology and Evolution
Geophysical Environment
MEC565 Meteorology and Environment
MEC567 Physical hydrodynamics for environment
PHY566 Radiative exchanges in the atmosphere and climate
Economy and Management of the Environment
ECO569 Valuing and managing natural resources
MIE561 Innovation methodology and application to sustainable development
Second period offer -P2- Advanced courses (4 ECTS)

BIO582 Human and environmental toxicology
HSS586 Urbanism and Sustainability: exploring the cities’ metamorphosis in the XXIst century
MAP581 Projects in applied maths
MEC583 Projects on solar and wind energy: resource and performance analysis
PHY585 Experimental work in environmental physics

Third period offer -P3- Research Internship (20 ECTS)

The research internship can be done either in an academic or an industrial laboratory, in a public or international body, in France or abroad. This research internship is an opportunity to deepen the knowledge and experience in a whole outfit of subjects.
These subjects can fit into upstream fields such as fluid mechanics geophysics, oceans dynamics, the atmosphere, internal geophysics, evolutionary or functional ecology or the mathematics…
Other subjects concern applied areas. Therefore, numerous research internships approach concrete environmental problems, such as the pollution, water management, the impact of the deforestation on climate, the development of the ecologically intensive agriculture, the evaluation of ecosystematic services, climate change due to greenhouse effect, the detection of seismic signals and earthquakes… These themes are characterized by their strong interdisciplinarity. The mechanical and physical, biological and economic aspects often mingle with more applied issues, relative to measurement techniques and the analysis of global or in situ observations.

BIO591 Biology and Ecology
ECO591 Microeconomics and Business Strategies
ECO592 The macroeconomic and Political Economy
MAP592 Modelling and scientific computing
MAP594 Probabilistic and statistical modelisation
MEC/PHY596 Geophysics & planetary environment
HSS591A Economic systems and sustainable development
MIE592 Strategy of innovation and Conception
MIE593 Internship Master IIT/DOCTIS »

Coriolis conferences

SEC participates to the Coriolis Institute for Energy and Environment. Conferences are organised monthly by the Coriolis Institute, where scientists or industrialists present the state of the art of scientific or technological problems linked to environment, climate or energy. Visit:

Admission requirements

The program is open to highly qualified French and international students with a strong scientific background who hold a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

Language proficiency

Although almost written material and slides are in English, some lectures of this M1 year may be given in French, ask the program directors for details. International students are strongly urged to enrol in a “French as a foreign language” course at Ecole Polytechnique.


Courses all take place on the Palaiseau Campus of Ecole Polytechnique, within half an hour from the centre of Paris.

Class size

An enrolment of 30 to 40 students is expected.

Fellowships and Scholarships

Fee waivers are available under certain conditions.
Fellowships are also awarded to a few highly qualified students to partially cover living expenses.

A few accommodations are available on the Palaiseau campus for students.

Requests for fee waivers, fellowships and accommodations are submitted online as part of the Master’s application procedure

Admission of the students is based on the evaluation of academic transcripts, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation.

Admission procedure is on line on

Select New application

  • Selected diploma: Master
  • Master Programme: Sciences de la Terre, des Planètes & Environnement/ Earth, Planetary & Environment Sciences
  • Master Year: M1
  • Track: Sciences pour les défis de l'environnement/Sciences for environmental challenges (SDE)
  • Master Programme: Economie de l'Environnement, de l'Energie & des Transports/ Environmental, Energy & Transportation Economics
  • Master Year: M1
  • Track: Sciences pour les défis de l'environnement/Sciences for environmental challenges (SDE)

There are two admission sessions per year, for students entering the program in the Fall semester:
1st session application procedure opens on January 8, 2017 - application deadline: February 15, 2017
2nd session application procedure opens on March 15, 2017 - application deadline: May 15, 2017

Admitted applicants are requested to confirm their acceptance before April 15, 2017 (1st session), June 15, 2017 (2nd session).

Beyond the 2nd session, the application procedure will reopen on May 15 and close definitly on June 30, 2017, then the admissibility of your application will depend on the results of the first 2 sessions of recruitment and in every case, you will receive an answer on July 15, 2017 at the latest.

Tuition fees and living expenses

Annual registration fee: €256
Health insurance: €215
Year M1 & M2 tuition fees are supported by the French government
One year of living expenses in the Paris area may be evaluated about €8000