Master’s studies

Physical Geography - Master Programme in Earth Science 2018/2019

Photo for Physical Geography - Master Programme in Earth Science 2018/2019

Do you want to learn more about how the Earth’s surface has evolved over time or how it is influenced by environmental changes? Do you want to understand how the climate and environment have changed from both quantitative and qualitative analyses of nature’s own archives? Or are you interested in how glaciers and ice sheets work and interact with the climate? The Master Programme in Earth Science, specialising in Physical Geography, combines studies on Earth processes that shape and changes of the Earth’s surface in its interaction with the climate and the environment over different time scales.

The Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University is one of the most comprehensive academic departments of its kind in Europe. Research in Earth Science focuses on subjects that range from the Earth’s core to the atmosphere, on scales from sub-microscopic minerals and fossils to the formation of mountains and oceans, and in time from the formation of the Earth to the processes currently reshaping the planet.

Research in physical geography at the department targets glacial processes and the relationships between glaciers and climate systems. We also focus our research on environmental change and geochemical cycles and processes as well as research in understanding palaeoclimates and landscape development through studies of sedimentary archives. 

Why this programme?

The Master Programme in Earth Science, specialising in Physical Geography, has a focus on environmental change and landscape development over different scales in time and space, but also on how glaciers and ice sheets work and their role in Earth’s systems. The programme combines courses in glaciology, geomorphology and environmental and climate change with methodological courses such as GIS and field methods.

The courses in each specialisation prepare you for one or two degree projects, each corresponding to one semester or more (20 to 30 weeks).


The programme leads to a Master of Science (120 credits) with Earth Science as the main field of study.

All specialisations of this programme


The first semester of the Master Programme in Earth Science, specialising in Physical Geography, starts with a choice between courses Dynamics of Earth Systems – Global Change and Applied Geoinformatics or Exploration and Environmental Geophysics. The course Dynamics of Earth Systems – Global Change provides a chance to explore the current research in Earth systems, interactions between Earth systems and how they change with time. The applied GIS course offers case studies relevant to the different areas within Earth Sciences. These are followed by a course in presentation and publication that provides training and experience in presentation skills alongside courses in climate variations as well as statistical and data analysis.

The second semester contains courses in glaciology and glacial processes, which focus on how glaciers and ice sheets work and how they interact with the climate system and landscape development. It is followed by a course in geomorphology focusing on the development of Earth's surface on different spatial and temporal scales. A course in field techniques and methods is given in parallel with the geomorphology course.

The third semester of the specialisation starts with a set of three courses. One course focuses on environmental changes over geological time scales emphasising climate interactions in landscape development. The second course investigates the interplay between hydrological regimes and society and our land use and how hydrological resources (dams and reservoirs) are used to meet society's needs. The third course is a seminar course in current research topics within physical geography and hydrology. The semester ends with two parallel courses, where one course is investigating the physical and chemical properties of natural snow, ecology as well the energy balance and melt dynamics of snow covered landscape. The second course is studying the disaster cycle (mitigation, preparation, response and recovery) in relation to natural hazards.

The fourth and last semester of the specialisation is a degree project in the form of an independent project.

Courses within the programme

See outlines for courses within the specialisations:

European Palaeobiology Specialisation (Uppsala-Lille)
Physical geography
Sustainable and Innovative Natural Resource Management

Learning experience

The teachers in the Master Programme in Earth Science are experts in their respective fields, giving you up-to-date contact with front-line research in an open and creative educational atmosphere. The teaching consists of a balanced mix of theoretical and practical work providing experience in both research and industry oriented applications. Excursions, fieldwork and study visits are included in some courses.

Instruction in the Master’s programme builds on your experience and knowledge from your previous education. You are expected to actively participate and contribute to the learning environment and take responsibility for your own and others learning. The teachers are responsible for creating opportunities for active learning at the individual and group level. Purposeful and respectful dialogue between teachers and students contributes to constant improvement and development of courses.

Examination generally includes written exams, complemented by seminar presentations/discussions, project work, laboratory work and field reports.


The Master Programme in Earth Science, specialising in Physical Geography, prepares you with skills and knowledge for a career in the fields of management of the environment and natural resources within private and governmental organisations. The programme also provides good opportunities for a postgraduate education with subsequent research careers.


Physical Geography

120 credits

Autumn 2018 - 100 % - Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application Deadline: 2018-01-15

Enrolment Code: UU-M1274 Application

Language of Instruction: English

Academic requirements
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Also required is 90 credits in earth science.

Language requirements
All applicants need to verify English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6"). This can be done in a number of ways, including through an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or through previous upper secondary (high school) or university studies.
The minimum test scores are:

  • IELTS: an overall mark of 6.5 and no section below 5.5
  • TOEFL: Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1–6) in written test and a total score of 575. Internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0–30) in written test and a total score of 90
  • Cambridge: CAE, CPE
More information about English language requirements

Selection: Students are selected based on:

  • a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and
  • a statement of purpose (1 page).


If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.

Application Fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 72500

Tuition fee, total: SEK 290000

Contact and further resources

Department of Earth Sciences

Geocentrum, Villav. 16 752 36 Uppsala

Villav. 16, 752 36 UPPSALA

Fax: 018-471 2592

For programme-specific information, please contact: Study Counsellor

Telephone: +46 18 471 25 07

Abigail Barker

Telephone: +46 18 471 25 52

For general information about Master's studies at Uppsala University, please send an email to: