Physical Geography - Master's Programme in Earth Science 2020/2021

Photo for Physical Geography - Master's Programme in Earth Science 2020/2021

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? In the Master's Programme in Earth Science, specialising in Physical Geography, you combine studies of Earth processes that change and shape the Earth's surface through interaction with the climate and the environment over different time scales.

Why this programme?

The specialisation in Physical Geography, within the Master's Programme in Earth Science, 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.

During the programme you can expect to:

  • investigate glaciology, geomorphology and climate change with methodological courses such as GIS and field methods
  • understand how the climate and environment have changed from both quantitative and qualitative analyses of nature's own archives
  • learn about human-Earth interaction and impacts of natural hazards.
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.

Student profile
You have a strong foundation in Earth science and during your Bachelor's education you gained some experience doing field work as well as analysing your data in a laboratory. You probably have taken a methodology course and have a naturally analytical attitude that allows you to apply your theoretical knowledge to solve problems.

A future PhD education is a possibility you might have thought about and would value an opportunity to get in closer contact with current research by working in a research group while doing your Master's. Starting to work right after graduation is also something you are considering so you also appreciate an opportunity to apply your knowledge in an internship in the industry.

Related programmes
Environmental toxicology
Ecosystems and Aquatic Ecology
Sustainable Development

All specialisations of this programme

Bild på student
Read the interview
Bild på student

Name: Shelly Mardhia Faizy
From: Indonesia
Studying: Master’s Programme in Earth Science – Geology

Why did you choose to come and study in Sweden?
– From the very beginning, studying in Europe has been my dream. Sweden is known to be one of the leading countries when it comes to sustainable development, and therefore Sweden caught my attention. In addition, the Swedish Institute offers scholarships for master's degree studies.

Why did you choose this programme?
– The geologist Charles Lyell once said “The present is the key to the past.” As a geoscientist this is my favourite quote. My interest in geoscience has developed since I was an undergraduate student and especially when I did my final research project on carbonate rock. I am aware of the important role geoscientists play in discovering and exploring the secrets of the planet. Therefore, I am eager to learn more in order to sharpen and enhance my knowledge.

What is it like to study at a university in Sweden?
– It is very comfortable. Uppsala University tries their best to make the students enjoy the learning experience. Instead of focusing on grades, they value the learning process.

Does the programme live up to your expectations?
– Yes! When I applied to this program, I was looking forward to the opportunity of working with a project related to geothermal energy. This semester the opportunity came, and I am currently working on my final project about extinct geothermal systems.

What is the best thing about studying at Uppsala University?
–Is is a friendly and supportive educational environment. There is no hierarchy between professors and students, both respect each other. Therefore, learning becomes more fun and less pressured. In addition, Uppsala University has a recruitment programme using so-called “student ambassadors” to inspire others, and I applied and was elected. As an ambassador, my role is to introduce and promote Uppsala University in my home country.

What does a normal day look like for you?
– A normal day is when I wake up early for morning class. I have free time between the classes, which I usually spend in the library doing my homework or with my friends. During the weekend, I spend time with some friends, going on a trip or spending some time at home by myself. As a university student I try to balance the workload from the courses to find time to myself.

What has been the most fun and interesting so far?
– It is the privilege of biking around the city, particularly during spring and summer. However, winter in Uppsala also made a deep impression on me as it was my first winter experience.

What types of courses are offered in your programme?
– My programme is a combination of lectures and hands-on experience through laboratory analysis and field work. The field work has always been the most interesting and fun part since it gives me the opportunity to explore Sweden while gaining knowledge in geoscience.

How was coming to Sweden for the first time?
– It was a great experience! Coming to Sweden was like a dream come true. It was real but didn’t feel real at the time. I kept repeating in my mind that I made it! Uppsala in particular is a lovely city.

How did you meet and get to know new people?
– Besides getting to know friends from the Earth Science department on campus, I also met new friends through the Student Nations, and also through the internship programme.

What do you do when you’re not studying?
– I am involved in some student organisations and student activities. I was the vice president for the Uppsala Student Chapter of the Society of Exploration Geophysicist (an international society of applied geophysicists), and I was also a part of the committee for the International Geoscience Student Conference (IGSC) 2019. Moreover, I am actively involved and connected with my colleagues from the Swedish Institute Study Scholarships. I am active in the Student Nations as well as Indonesian Student Association in Sweden.

Three quick questions:
Favourite place in Uppsala?
– My favourite place in Uppsala is Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala).

Best student tradition at Uppsala University?
– Valborg, last of April (Walpurgis Eve) and the ”Flogsta Scream”.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
– After studying and working abroad I hope I can apply my skills and work in my home country.

Spring 2020

Register your interest


The first semester starts with a choice between courses Dynamics of Earth Systems - Global Change and Applied Geoinformatics. 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, the 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 outline for courses within the specialisation.

Learning experience

The teachers in the Master's 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's 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.

Our graduates work at, for example, Berg AB, SGU and Sweco Environment AB. Job titles include Geochemist, Consultant and Geoscientist.

The programme also provides good opportunities for a postgraduate education with subsequent research careers.

Career support
During your whole time as a student UU Careers offers you support and guidance. You have the opportunity to partake in a variety of career activities and events, as well as receive individual career counselling. This service is free of charge for all students at Uppsala University. Read more about UU Careers.


Physical Geography

120 credits

Autumn 2020 - 100 % - Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application Deadline: 2020-01-15

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

Is this programme right for you?


For programme-specific information, please contact: Study Counsellor or Abigail Barker;

+46 18 471 25 07 (study counsellor), +46 18 471 25 52 (Abigail Barker)

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:

Department of Earth Sciences

Geocentrum, Villavägen 16 752 36 Uppsala

Villavägen 16, 752 36 UPPSALA

Student portal

Student portal

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