M.Sc. Physical Geography: Climate and Environmental Sciences
Environmental processes and dynamics are driven by the diverse properties of physical systems on global, regional, and local scales. Accelerating climate change affects the underlying processes and thereby landscape dynamics, and moreover socio-ecological systems.
These changes impose fundamental research challenges and, as a consequence, increase the volume of spatial data. At the Institute of Geography in Erlangen, climatic changes and their effects are studied from different research perspectives, with a (non-exclusive) focus on high-mountain environments.
Research foci of the Physical Geography branch of the Institute of Geography are climate research, environmental studies, and geoinformatics, each with various sub-fields. Our institute is internationally recognized and involved in many international collaborative projects and has a special focus on high mountain regions (e.g., in the European Scandinavian Mountains, the Alps, the Andes, High Asia and the Himalayas, East Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean), but also on polar regions and drylands. Besides, we are active in various projects inside Germany and the province of Bavaria. A strong link exists to Cultural Geography via the research field society-environment-interactions.
The institute has excellent research facilities in electronic data processing systems and laboratories which are intensively involved in student training to warrant a modern, practical, and applied education. In detail, the institute disposes of a soil and sedimentary lab, adendroecological lab, and a stable isotope lab. In climatology, you are trained in various meteorological measurement techniques and climate modelling, and in the field of GIS and remote sensing, you learn advanced methods of special functions, concepts, and implementation of modelling algorithms.
Content & Structure of the programme
The MSc programme offers the opportunity to specialise in one major subject area of Physical Geography by giving students the opportunity to take advantage of an individually tailored Master’s programme; this will enable a specific qualification in a chosen field of interest. In-depth modules and the possible topics for the Master’s thesis mirror the three research pillars at our institute in Erlangen:
The fourth semester is dedicated to the Master’s thesis, which focuses on one of the chosen major topics. Semesters abroad are not compulsory, but can be arranged (e.g. through the ERAMUS programme and partnerships with universities).
Qualification profile and occupational fields
The courses put these methods in the light of topical issues, for instance, understanding the interplay of climatic subsystems in the challenging environment of high mountains (atmosphere, glaciers, hydrology); practicing seasonal predictions; or sharpening the sense for future climate projections.
With our course program we aim at current and future demands and challenges in regard to processing of large data amounts (“big data”). All classes provide the opportunity to acquire versatile programming and scripting skills that enable efficient data processing as well as the customization and the development of new algorithms. This combination of geoinformatics modules with thematic knowledge links modern data analysis and acquisition techniques with an in-depth process understanding that is required and demanded for data interpretation in the respective research fields.
Here, you are trained in sampling strategies, preparation techniques and state-of-the-art analyses methods, and data assessment and interpretation. The lab courses are embedded in practical research applications like the impact of climate change on trees and forest ecosystems, climate reconstruction from natural archives, and environmental changes caused by human impact.
Application & Admission Requirements
Please read the following carefully.
1. Due to the course structure, we strongly recommend to start in the winter term.
2. Successful applications must proof good basic knowledge in Physical Geography or a related subject as well as basic technical skill sets, e.g. GIS or programming/scripting. Note that the examination regulations require you to have at least 30 ECTS (40 ECTS starting summer term 2021 onwards) in one or more geography-related subjects (e.g. ecology, climatology/meteorology, GIS, soil science and geomorphology, hydrology, forestry, and environmental physics). Applications without specific motivation letter, with too little geography-related background, or from entirely technical subjects (e.g., mechanical engineering) will be dismissed.
3. Please be aware of the minimum Bachelor entry grade of at least 2.3 or better (without additional exam) or 2.3-2.5 (with additional exam). Grades below this threshold will be excluded from further review. Grades refer to the German higher education system or equivalent.
4. If the minimum entry grade is fulfilled, yet theextent of your geography-related background is not clear enogh, we will offer you a coaching (digital meeting) after your application to help you assess the fit with our program.
5. Applicants have to proof intermediate knowledge of the English language (level B2) according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages or an equivalent score in an internationally recognised test. The proficiency of a basic knowledge of German (A1) has to be proven within the first academic year.
The application deadlines are 31 January for the following summer term (starting in April) and 15 July for the following winter term (starting in October). It is therefore possible to start studies either in the summer or winter semester. Due to the structure of the programme we strongly recommend to start in winter.
For more information about enrolling for the Masters program, please visit the FAU website.
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact our student advisor:
Please also refer to our information on study registration.
Current Master Courses
Vorlesung mit Übung
- Module manual: The current module manual can be generated automatically from the entries in UnivIS. To do this, go to “Lehre” in UnivIS and select “Vorlesungs- und Modulverzeichnis nach Studiengängen”, choose “Geographie” under “Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät” (Faculty of Natural Sciences), click on the module directory in the desired degree programme, then click on “Modulhandbuch (PDF)” in the left-hand column under “Extras” – that’s it.
- Study plan starting winter semester 2020/21
- Study plan eletive and consolidation module
- Study Plan until winter semester 2020/21
- Examination regulations
- Registration form Master’s thesis / Anmeldeformular Masterarbeit
- Request for extension of processing time / Antrag auf Verlängerung der Bearbeitungszeit
- International students will find additional information on how to organise their studies on the English website.