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GEOPHYSICS

Master's Degree Programme

About the programme
Language: English  (See language requirements)  | Place of study: Aarhus  |  Commencement: August / September and January / February (only applicants with a Danish Bachelor's degree)

Introduction

The master's degree programme in geophysics is for those of you who are interested in the Earth's climate system, water resources, geothermal energy and other development of sustainable solutions to the resource needs of modern society (e.g. clean drinking water and sustainable energy and minerals). It is for those of you who would like to be skilled at working with computer models based on data collected in the field, such as electrical properties, sound data from soil layers, chemical variations and climate data.

Geophysics is based on mathematical and physical theory combined with practical experiments and studies. You will work with geophysical measurements, geological observations and advanced computer models to solve a wide range of geoscientific questions posed by modern society, such as where to find groundwater, sand and gravel, optimum geothermal conditions for heat extraction, etc.

The master's degree programme in geophysics is research-based and has a high degree of flexibility that makes it possible to shape your education based on your own interests. We offer the following four specialisations: water, climate, energy and deep soil systems.

Read more about the specialisations.

The master's degree programme in geophysics is closely related to the Master's degree programme in Geology, and the two programmes have many joint courses. Geophysics differs from geology in that it is more mathematically oriented and focuses on computer modelling. Geophysical methods are suitable for reconstructing the subsurface in models based on geophysical measurements. These models are subsequently tested by geologists, who make drillings and examine the material retrieved from the subsurface.

Students work closely with technical staff and with some of the best Danish and international researchers in the field. Teamwork is promoted to provide a forum for group research and discussion as well as opportunities to collaborate with private companies for research.

Read more about our research.

The thesis, which is heavily weighted, is a chance for students to tailor their degree to their own personal and career interests while benefiting from close collaboration with fellow students and faculty members.

Career

With a Master’s degree programme in geophysics, you can work with advisory engineering companies and in state and municipal institutions, working with for example groundwater research, environmental assessments, clean drinking water and the restoration of watercourses. You can also work for companies that work with alternative energy sources such as wind and water energy as well as geothermia, and you have the opportunity to work with research in the form of a PhD degree programme.

Read, print and be inspired

Download and print a short presentation of the MA programme in Geophysics.

Admission requirements

The following Bachelor’s degrees qualify students for admission to the Master’s degree programme in Geophysics:

  • A Bachelor of Science degree in Geology with the special study area Geophysics from Aarhus University or the University of Copenhagen.
  • A Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Aarhus University, with an elective subject equalling at least 30 ECTS credits in Geophysics.

The following other degrees can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme in Geophysics:

  • A Bachelor’s degree amounting to at least 60 ECTS credits in Geophysics can qualify the student for admission.*

Other qualifications can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme, provided the university assesses that their level, extent and content correspond to the degrees mentioned above.
In connection with possible admission, further requirements can be stipulated regarding the composition of the degree programme. Find more information here.

*Comments on these regulations:

The 60 ECTS credits in geophysics may come from a broad range of topics, provided that the courses deal with physical aspects of geoscience.

You may get a first impression of the general level expected by looking at these exam problems from the introductory bachelor course in Geophysical Methods.

Course descriptions of additional, more advanced mandatory courses for geophysics bachelors at Aarhus University can be found here:

We do not require that you have one-to-one merits in exactly these bachelor courses, but it does give you an impression of the level that you will meet in the master courses.

Language requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. 
Please see the page on language requirements for more information.

Documentation

Please see the general admission requirements.

Legal right of admission

Students with a Bachelor's degree programme in Geoscience with the direction Geophysics at Aarhus University have the right to be admitted to the Master's degree programme in Geophysics on the condition that application is made for admission to the Master’s degree programme no later than three years after completion of the Bachelor’s degree programme. The legal right of admission requires receipt of the application by Aarhus University within the appropriate period of time. Read more about legal right of admission.

Selection criteria

As the Master’s programme only admits a limited number of students each year, meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme. 

Allocation of student places is based on an overall assessment. In evaluating qualified applicants, the admissions committee assess applicants on the basis of the following criteria:

Academic background

  • Overall grade level – Bachelor’s degree
  • Grades achieved on relevant courses*
  • Relevant courses* (measured in credit units) included in your Bachelor’s degree

 

* Relevant courses include core courses within the subject areas of Geology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Statistics, Programming and Probability Calculus.

Please note that grades obtained after the time of application cannot be included in the assessment of grade level.

The admissions committee assess each applicant on the basis of the information provided in diplomas, transcripts, and course descriptions.

Programme structure

The Master’s degree in Geophysics counts as 120 ECTS credits and consists of subjects within the 4 specializations. You specialize by participating in course activities and projects and by writing a thesis. The first year consists of course work, while the second year is a research project that you can chose and is carried out under the supervision of a faculty member.

Before you arrive to Denmark, you structure your own individual study programme with the help of the study officer from the Department of Geoscience by choosing courses from a course catalogue. Your programme is based on your academic qualifications and interests and the subjects you studied for your Bachelor’s degree.

For more information about the individual courses, go to kursuskatalog.au.dk.

If you would like information about options regarding a Master’s thesis in Geophysics working with research groups at the Department of Geoscience, go to their respective web sites via www.geo.au.dk.

Forms of teaching

At the University of Aarhus, you are in close contact with researchers in a way that you rarely experience at other universities. The door to the professor’s office is always open if you need clarification of the study material, and you are encouraged to ask questions at lectures and during exercises. We make heavy demands on your academic skills and independence. In return, you gain considerable benefits in the form of academic challenges and scientific knowledge, in addition to broad competences.

The teaching at the university focuses on independence, critical thinking and collaboration. Part of the teaching is in the form of lectures that introduce new angles to the material compared with the textbooks. The theoretical and practical exercises take place in small groups where you study relevant issues in depth. Depending on the courses taken and the thesis topic, most geophysics students spend a certain amount of time on laboratory work and work related to field courses. The degree programme also includes a number of excursions to key geological locations in Denmark and abroad.

The varied forms of teaching, collaboration in groups and the opportunity for close scientific dialogue with the researchers provide you with general competences that are in great demand in the global job market. These competences include abstract, critical and independent thinking, analytical skills and strategic planning. You can use these skills in many contexts – even in jobs for which you did not know you were qualified.

The teaching is divided into two semesters per year. See the academic calendar.

PhD programme

If you have the necessary skills and interest, you have the option of applying for admission to the PhD programme. You can apply when you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and one year of your Master’s degree or when you have completed your Master’s degree. In the PhD programme, you start working on a research project and are gradually trained through courses and personal guidance to become a researcher. Find more information about the PhD-programme in Geoscience here or read examples of current research projects at the Department of Geoscience.

Academic regulations

If you would like information about options regarding a Master’s thesis in geophysics, go to the department’s web site.

Structure

Student life

The Department of Geoscience is a small community of about 200 students brought together by shared research and common interests.

You will quickly become part of the community at Department of Geoscience. The class sizes in the programme are relatively small, with a good social connection between all students. You will have access to modern facilities with well-established labs, reading places, study rooms, computer rooms and not least, the students’ Friday bar, where you can have a cosy chat with your fellow students. During your thesis, it is possible to get an office space where you can read and work with your fellow students. 

Teaching and research: Two sides of the same coin 

The master's programme is flexible and adapted to the individual student's needs and academic wishes. The lecturers are researchers who are specialists in the field in which they teach, which ensures that the latest findings quickly find their way into the teaching. You will spend a great deal of your time on laboratory work and other work in connection with field courses, but you'll also be attending lectures and participating in group work where the many issues of the course are presented and elaborated. 

You will have the opportunity to participate in research projects, e.g. in connection with your thesis work. It is also possible to do projects together with private companies. The thesis is an independent research project and constitutes a large part of the study. This makes it possible to work in a team of researchers in an informal and inspiring atmosphere, where you participate as an integral part of the group's research projects, take part in the solution of exciting research assignments and become a potential co-author of scientific articles. 

Campus – a unique place

The University of Aarhus is unique, especially because the buildings are grouped in one campus area close to the Aarhus city center. The campus has many green areas and a beautiful park surrounding a small lake. Here you also find student accommodation, lecture theatres and a host of activities ranging from sports days to the regatta on the lake, interesting lectures, a film club, libraries and university celebrations. The campus ensures that you have easy access to the canteen, student counsellors, teachers, the bookshop, the State and University Library and the Friday bar.

Aarhus as a study centre

The university is not all Aarhus has to offer. As the second-largest city in Denmark, Aarhus has numerous different cultural activities. The well-known Aarhus Festival is celebrated for a week at the beginning of September every year and the streets really come to life. During the rest of the year, you can visit different music venues and concert halls in the city or find entertainment at one of the many theatres in Aarhus. The city’s many museums include ARoS – the major international art museum, which is a spectacular place for visual experiences. If you have had enough of cultural activities, you can ride your bike to the beach in no time or go for walks in the Risskov woods or in the beautiful woods around Marselisborg. The forty thousand young students in Aarhus make up 17.5% of the population, which shapes city life. Aarhus is a young, dynamic city with plenty of opportunities.

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Meet our graduates

Toke Højbjerg Søltoft, MSc. in Geophysics, managing director at Aarhus GeoSoftware

I chose to study geoscience, because I had an interest in groundwater, and since I have a background as an electronics technician, I quickly decided on a path within mapping of subsoil by using geophysical instruments. This meant that I have always prioritised the geophysical courses when planning my study programme.

I found the degree programme to be very business-oriented, as the courses incorporate real-life issues in classes, and the many projects during the programme gave me an opportunity to work together with companies and giving me business-related experience in my study programme.
Furthermore, there were numerous options for relevant student jobs, where you could use your knowledge from the study programme dealing with real issues.

The study environment at the Department of Geoscience, where the programmes in both geology and geophysics are located, is very nice, since you quickly get to know most students and lecturers.

Today, I work as managing director in Aarhus GeoSoftware, a company that was developed as a spin-off from a research group at Geoscience in 2015. I use my knowledge from geophysics on a daily basis in my job, but my experience with overviewing large projects and taking responsibility also comes from my education. Even though I now work with software and geophysics, my geological background from my Bachelor’s degree is also very useful when working with interpreting geophysical research results and relating them to geological aspects.


Lasse Svenningsen, MSc. in Geophysics, Wind Energy Consultant at EMD International A/S

I work with developing new calculation methods for a software tool used in wind energy. Lots of different aspects have to be calculated in a wind turbine project. The wind field in the area needs to be modelled in space and time so we can place the turbines in the right location for optimal energy production. We also calculate their noise level and the shadows they cast on neighbours.

Career

Job functions for grads

This data is derived from AU's 2016 employment survey. This data should not be considered a completely accurate representation of the labour market and job functions for all graduates of the individual degree programmes. It exclusively represent the responses submitted to the survey in the years in question.


The Master's degree in Geophysics is designed to meet qualification demands in both private and public businesses and organizations where advanced knowledge and skills in geoscience are required.

This Master's degree has special emphasis on geophysics and computational qualifications, aiming for jobs handling complex geomodels and large datasets.

Geophysics trained at Aarhus University find work in both private and public workplaces. Many geophysics work in private consultancy companies, especially in the environmental area or in connection with major construction projects such as offshore wind farms. Many are also employed in municipalities and regions with the administration, utilisation and protection of groundwater and other raw materials.

When completed the first year of your Master's degree, you can apply for admission to the four year PhD programme. However, you also have the opportunity to apply for a PhD programme once you have taken your Master's degree in geophysics. In this case, the PhD programme lasts only three years. With a PhD in Geophysics, you will have an even broader field of work areas to choose from, typically within research and development.

With a Master’s degree in Geophysics, you have the following competences:  

  • You have general knowledge of Geophysics and detailed knowledge of key disciplines, methodologies, theories and concepts within Geophysics.
  • You can independently plan, manage and implement projects and apply the results in scientifically relevant decision processes.
  • You can assess the applicability and appropriateness of theoretical, experimental and practical methodologies for the analysis and solution of scientific questions and issues.
  • You can structure your own competence development independently and critically.
  • You are able to systematically and critically familiarise yourself with new subject areas.
  • You can relay and communicate academic questions and issues to both a scientific and a general audience.
  • You can collaborate constructively on a scientific basis to solve subject-related issues.
  • You have an understanding of and insight into the connection between Geophysics and the other scientific subject areas, and have qualified knowledge regarding the interaction between Geophysics and society at large.