Master's Programme in Earth Science – Physical Geography

120 credits

Do you want to learn about how the Earth's surface has evolved over time, or how it is influenced by environmental changes? Do you want to work with analyses of nature's own archives to understand these changes? 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.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

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 archives,
  • learn about human-Earth interaction and the 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 fieldwork 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.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with Earth Science as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is possible to obtain a degree of Master of Science (60 credits).

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 on 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 on 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 as 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 the programme outline for courses within the programme.

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 the 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, Geoscientist, etc.

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

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.