Physical Geography, Master's, 2 years

The effects of climate changes and natural hazards are problems society must deal with to protect the population and preserve values. Physical Geography studies the exogenous processes that have shaped and shape the landscape.
  • TuitionNone
  • Years2 Years
  • Intake5
  • Grade requirementsMinimum C
  • LanguageEnglish
  • ECTS120
  • StartAutumn

Main content

We offer a wide range of master’s projects related to past and present climate and environmental changes in Norway: 

  • Glaciers
  • Natural hazards (floods, storminess, storm floods, snow avalanches etc.)
  • Sea level changes
  • Hydrology and ground water
  • Periglacial processes and features
  • Caves and landscape development

We use several methods including equipment for coring of lakes, access to sediment analyses, and laboratory for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS).  

As a master’s student in Physical Geography, you can contribute to societal safety and planning related to settlement, transport, water supply, and climate and energy transformation. 

You will learn relevant skills for your master project through fieldwork, laboratory and theoretical courses, and an inclusive and informal social environment awaits you at the Department of Geography.  

More information below

Physical Geography


Our graduates go on to work within a variety of work markets, such as local and regional planning and management, GIS and cartographic consultancy, teaching and research.  

As a geographer, you: 

  • will build bridges between the natural- and social sciences
  • have both theoretical and practical skills
  • are used to fieldwork
  • can work in a team
  • can write reports

Graduates can also continue their education by pursuing a PhD.  

More information below

Student life 

Master’s students are an important part of everyday life and environment at the department. You are encouraged to take part in academic seminars and the common workspace creates an informal atmosphere. Extracurricular activities such as mountain trips and social evenings are good opportunities to get to know your fellow master’s students and staff members. 

As a student in this programme you are integrated in the activities and courses of the larger group of geography master students. You will spend a lot of your time at the Department of Geography. Most of the lectures take place at the department seminar room, and the reading rooms for our master’s students are also located here. 

This study programme offers a variety of activities, such as labs, seminar groups, field trips, lectures and workshops. You will also get to use your cooperation skills by discussing the theoretical readings and doing practical field and lab activities with your fellow students and staff members.  

You will conduct field work as part of your master’s degree, typically 2 to 4 weeks in August before your third semester. This could be in Norway or abroad, depending on your topic.  

When you start working on your master’s thesis, you will be presented with different suggestions for master’s projects. The topics for master’s projects are related to ongoing research in physical geography in Norway and elsewhere and are normally based on relevant data that you collect through fieldwork. You will be assigned a supervisor and have regular meetings throughout the master’s program. All laboratory costs and parts of the fieldwork expenses will be covered for master’s projects conducted within the suggested research topics.

Read more about our master’s students and their projects


The programme covers two academic years (four semesters) and starts in the autumn. You have two semesters to write your master’s thesis (60 ECTS). 

First semester 

  • GEO308 Theory of Science and Research Design for Geographers (10 ECTS)
  • GEO310 Writing Course and Project Description (10 ECTS)
  • GEO313 Field and Laboratory Methods in Physical Geography (10 ECTS)
  • Milestone 1: Presentation of project description in Desember

Second semester 

In this semester, you can choose where to study depending on the theme for the master project. Either follow courses at Department of Geography, at Department of Earth Sciences, at UNIS on Svalbard, or as an exchange student at one of our partner Erasmus universities. 

  • GEO316 Practical Skills in Remote Sensing and Spatial analysis (10 ECTS)
  • GEO317 Special Topics in Geography (10 ECTS)
  • GEO341 Master Level Field Course in Physical Geography (10 ECTS)
  • Milestone 2: Presentation of theory, research design and fieldwork plans in April/May

Third semester

  • You carry out fieldwork and write your master's thesis (GEO350
  • Milestone 3: Poster presentation of data, main findings and methodology in October

Fourth semester

  • You complete your master's thesis (GEO350, 60 ECTS) 

See full list of courses

What you will learn

You can specialise in glaciers, natural hazards, sea level change, hydrology and ground water, periglacial features, caves and landscape development related to past and present climate and environmental changes. 

The methods to be applied depend on your choice of topic:  

  • Practical, field-based skills such as sediment coring and geomorphological mapping.
  • Survey techniques such as echo sounder and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs).
  • Laboratory techniques such as sediment analysis.
  • Computer-based analysis skills such as GIS, LIDAR and remote sensing.

After completing your master’s, you can  

  • design a research project and collect relevant field data to reconstruct terrestrial climate and environmental changes for own master project.  
  • discuss critically potential causes, including man-made, for terrestrial climate and environmental changes. 

Full list of learning outcomes

Study period abroad 

Most master students in Physical Geography attend courses at UNIS, the University Centre at Svalbard in their second semester.  

You can choose to spend the second semester as an exchange student instead, at one of our Erasmus partner institutions in Iceland, Wales, Germany or Poland.

Application deadline for exchange is 1 September, and 15 October for UNIS. Contact your study advisor if you want to know more.

See list of recommended exchange agreements

Admission Requirements

In order to apply for the Master's Programme in Physical Geography you need a bachelor's degree of 3-4 years' duration, or an equivalent educational background. The degree must include at least 1,5 years (80-90 ECTS) of full-time studies in geography, including 1 year (60 ECTS) in physical geography or related disciplines (e.g. quaternary geology, cartography, GIS, climatology, hydrology). Background focused on processes in landscapes influenced by glaciation (30 ECTS) or remote sensing applied in Physical Geography (30 ECTS) is a requirement.

The application must include a motivation letter (max one page) to clarify your background and thematic and methodological interests for the master project. Applicants with an interest in past climatic, geomorphological and environmental reconstructions (e.g. related to glaciers, hydrology, sea level, wind) from glacierized regions of the last ice age and present interglacial (the Holocene) will be prioritized.

You also need to document:

How to apply

Follow these links to find the general entry requirements and guidelines on how to apply: