Master's Programme in Physics – Geophysics

120 credits

How does planet Earth work and how can we explore the processes that form our planet? In geophysics, we use tools and methods from physics to explore the Earth. The Geophysics specialisation of the Master's Programme in Physics allows you to combine your physics knowledge with field data and laboratory experiments to get a deeper understanding of the solid Earth.

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

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

In geophysics, we investigate the structure and dynamics of Earth on scales from a few meters to thousands of kilometres. On smaller scales geophysics is used to detect groundwater resources and soil contaminations, to evaluate risks for landslides or to discover archaeological artefacts. On larger scales, geophysical methods are applied to understand the present-day structure of Earth, its previous and current evolution (plate tectonics), earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

During the programme, you can expect to:

  • Learn about the physical processes that shape our planet.
  • Study seismic waves, earthquakes and other active processes.
  • Apply geophysical methods to find natural resources such as water, minerals and reservoirs of geothermal energy.
  • Tailor your programme according to your interest and career plan, by studying other disciplines such as programming, geology, physics, and mathematics.

Through geophysical methods, we measure seismic waves, electromagnetic waves, electromagnetic waves, gravity and magnetic fields, using satellite, aircraft, boat, surface and borehole instruments. In the analysis of these data, we use advanced numerical modelling and interpret the resulting models geologically using rock physics.

The job market for a geophysicist is very broad and international, including positions in academia, industry, government authorities and international agencies.

Student profile

You are naturally curious about how the world works and realise that formulating a question can be just as important as finding the answer. You have a good theoretical foundation in both physics and mathematics. Furthermore, you have experience in analysing data and creating computer-based tools to solve problems.

A PhD education is a distinct possibility in your future. A Master's degree in geophysics from Uppsala University is exactly what takes you there because you come in close contact with current research and prominent researchers in the field.


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

During the two-year programme, you will apply your knowledge in physics to study the Earth.

We offer two standard schemes of courses:

  • Scheme 1 is intended for students who have taken physics and mathematics courses during the BSc studies, but who have no prior knowledge of geophysics. In this case, the standard courses are mainly courses in geophysics complemented by a programming course early on in semester 1.
  • Scheme 2 is intended for students who have taken the geophysics specialisation in the BSc programme of physics at Uppsala University and who wish to supplement existing knowledge in geophysics with courses in geology, geoscience, applied mathematics and programming.

In both schemes, the standard courses are the same from year 1 period 4, and consist of advanced geophysics. However, depending on your preferences, you can supplement your course choice with in-depth studies in programming, geology, physics or applied mathematics.

The obligatory independent project work which can be done in one of our research groups, focusing on different aspects of geophysics. Another possibility is to seek degree projects outside the university, e.g. at a company or governmental agency. It all depends on your interest and career plan.

Courses within the programme

See the programme outline for courses within the specialisation.

Instruction consists of lectures, teacher-led classes, and guidance in conjunction with field courses and laboratory work.

During a typical week, you will have about 8-10 hours of scheduled classroom time. The majority of time is thus spent studying on your own or in a study group outside the classroom. Field courses are taught in blocks of one to five days and emphasise group work. You can also choose to conduct research projects. They are a lot like thesis work, only shorter in duration, and are an excellent way into a new research field and research group.

The forms of examination vary depending on the course content and design. Final exams are more common for theoretical courses, although many tutors have continuous examinations during the course, such as group discussions and hand-in exercises.

Classes are typically small, ranging from a few students up to about 20. This gives you close contact with the teachers as well as your fellow students. Our teaching is in English as the student group is international.

A geophysicist's job market is very broad and international, including jobs in industry, academia, public organs and international organisations at various levels.

With a Master's degree from the programme in Geophysics, you will be qualified for PhD studies in geophysics. Many of our physics Master's students continue as PhD students, at Uppsala University or elsewhere in the world. You will also have the opportunity to work with research and development (R&D) at various companies and public authorities.

Your mathematical competence and analytical problem-solving skills trained during your studies will make you an attractive recruit. Our previous graduates work at, for example, various exploration companies, geotechnical companies, mining companies and governmental institutions.

Depending on the courses you take and the specialisation you choose, there are many career opportunities in special areas, both within and outside the field of geophysics. For example, you may find employment as a company consultant, project manager in R&D, or as a specialist in banking, insurance or research organisations.

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.