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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 legal right of admission can apply)


The master's degree programme in geology is for those of you interested in the structure of the Earth, its climate system, water resources, geothermal energy and development of sustainable solutions for the resource needs of modern society (e.g. clean drinking water and supply of energy and minerals).  It is for those of you who find it exciting to collect data in the field and/or in a laboratory and interpret geochemical and geophysical datasets from different sample types (soil, water, rocks). You ultimately could use this to derive computer models and/or contribute to solutions to some of the societal challenges.

Geology has a both practical and theoretical approach and involves both lectures, lab work and excursions. You will learn how to analyse a geological problem by setting up a working model, collecting and analysing data, using it in numerical models and producing a scientific report. There are many different topics for specialisation, such as the formation of sedimentary basins and their importance for resource needs, how to find solutions to contaminants in the subsoil, how the climate has evolved through the past, and how to understand the climate in the present and safeguard it in the future. It is also possible to specialise in hydrogeology/geophysics, mineral raw materials and transition to sustainable energy sources.

Teaching in the programme is integrated with research at the highest international level and with a high degree of flexibility that makes it possible for the students to explore their own interests, both in the laboratories and in the field.

We offer the following four specialisations: Water, Climate, Energy and Deep earth systems. 

Read more about the specialisations.

The master's degree programme in geology is closely related to the Master's degree programme in, Geophysics, and the two programmes have many joint courses. A background in basic geophysics, calculus, programming and chemistry is assumed.

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.


Graduates in geology from Aarhus University work in both the private and public sectors both in Denmark and abroad, with areas such as: 

  • Climate challenges
  • Water supply
  • Environment Purification and protection
  • Foundation exploration for offshore wind turbines
  • Geothermal energy
  • Extraction of gravel, sand and metals
  • Product development with geo-materials
  • Groundwater mapping

Admission requirements

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

  • A Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Aarhus University or the University of Copenhagen.

Other degrees 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 the assesment of whether a bachelor degree qualifies for admission to the MSc in Geology,  Aarhus University considers the following to be important:

  • It should be a Bachelor of Science degree with subject components within geology equaling 60 ECTS, including at least 10 ECTS within each of the following topical areas:
    • Petrology/structural geology/resource geology
    • Hydrogeology/hydrology
    • Quaternary geology/glaciology/climate
    • Sedimentology/stratigraphy/basins
  • In addition the program should include fundamental subject components equaling 30 ECTS within the majority of the following topics: Geophysics, programming, physics, chemistry, mathematics (calculus), probability theory and statistics.

In connection with possible admission, further requirements can be stipulated regarding the composition of the degree programme.

Language Requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. 

Read how to document your language qualifications


Please see the general admission requirements.

Legal right of admission

Students with a Bachelor's degree programme in Geoscience at Aarhus University have the right to be admitted to the Master's degree programme in Geoscience 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.

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, Geophysics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Probability theory, Statistics and Programming.    

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 geology 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 geology 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 geology 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


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 students

Ida-Emilie Nilsson, Master's student at Geoscience

Since I was very young, I have been interested in nature, and the environment and climate have always been important to me. However, when I was in upper secondary school, I did not make a connection between my interest in these topics and a degree in Geoscience, so it was actually my interest in natural disasters and volcanoes that made me apply to Geoscience.

There has not been a single day where I have regretted to study at Geoscience. This is of course due to my strong interest in the academic field of geoscience, and dreams of adventurous jobs ahead, but also due to the daily student life here at Geoscience. We are a relatively small department, and this fosters a study environment, where you not only know your own classmates, but also know students from other classes as well as the lecturers. A special aspect of studying at Geoscience is the field trips both in Denmark and abroad. This is a special opportunity for getting to know your fellow classmates outside the classroom.

Currently, I am planning an exchange stay north of the Arctic Circle. I hope to get both personal development from this and to improve my knowledge about arctic processes and environments. There are good opportunities to go on exchange as a geoscience student, and as a lecturer told me in the first year of my Bachelor’s degree: "the best geologist is the most travelled geologist".

I do not have a specific job in mind for once I graduate. The job opportunities are quite diverse; however, I hope to get a job where I can work with climate and/or environment in some way. Through my student jobs, I have already peeked into some of the options available. My student jobs have primarily been within the environmental area, where I for example collected soil samples for a company. Who knows what the future holds? I am sure that I will find a job where I can feel that I make a difference somehow.


Job functions for grads

The chart shows the five most common types of work for graduates 1-2 years after finishing their degree. The data is derived from a survey made by Epinion for the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and Aarhus University in 2020.

Graduates in geology from Aarhus University find jobs within a wide range of areas in both the private and public sectors both in Denmark and abroad, and is concerned with areas such as:

  • Climate challenges
  • Water supply
  • Environmental purification and protection
  • Foundation exploration for offshore wind turbines
  • Geothermal energy
  • Extraction of gravel, sand and metals
  • Product development with geo-materials
  • Groundwater Mapping

Fieldwork, analyses of data and results communication are to a certain extent part of most types of jobs.

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.

To do my job, you need not only basic geological knowledge but also the ability to analyse and interpret data. I learned this in my studies, along with more practical tools like GIS and administrative geology – the way regions and municipalities carry out administration in areas such as groundwater and pollution.

Christine Husum Graduate, MSc in Geology Geologist, Ramboll.