Masters Degree in Geoscience

All information about the start of your studies can be found in the brochure “Studying Geosciences (M.Sc.) at FAU”

Information on application/registration for the Masters Degree

The application to the Geoscience Masters Degree is submitted via the campo portal.

Information about enrolment and application deadlines

The application requires:

  • CV
  • School Leaving Certificates  (Abitur, A Levels, IB, etc.)
  • Bachelor’s Degree Certificate after §50 Abs. 2 (Certificate, Transcript of Records, Diploma Supplement or comparable documents) or a Transcript of Records in case of §47 Abs. 3
  • Letter of motivation, containing information on the following topics:
    a. previous education (in particular, geoscience education)
    b. what are your expectations and aspirations for the programme
    c. choices of first and second major subjects.

The Geoscience M.Sc. at FAU always begins in the winter semester.

The application deadline for winter semester is in mid July.

An average grade of 2.5 is required for entry for home students, international students are reviewed by individual case.

Majors/Minors are taught in German unless otherwise stated.

In the Masters Degree Programme Geosciences the students have to choose two out of the six offered subjects, one Major and one Minor Subject. In the Major Subject the students attend three modules more than in the Minor Subject and write their Masters Thesis. Here an overview on the subjects:

Petrology – Geodynamics – Georesources (PG)

This major focuses on geodynamic processes in the Earth’s crust and mantle, which are fundamental in understanding the evolution of our planet. The formation of magmas in Earth’s interior and at active continental margins (mid-oceanic ridges and subduction zones) play an important role. Furthermore, the consequences of magmatic activity, such as volcanic eruptions, and the impacts on society are covered in this field. The formation mechanisms of magmatic ore deposits is an important subject, fundamental for exploration geology. The main methods of investigation in this specialism is isotopic and chemical analysis of rocks.

Applied Sedimentology – Georesources (AS)

The processes that lead to the formation of sedimentary rocks and related non-metallic natural resource deposits, alongside methods of exploration are the main focus of this major. This includes fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas, coal) and construction materials (sand, gravel, natural rock). A second important topic in this field is geothermal energy as a renewable energy resource. Here the study focuses on the thermal properties of rocks with respect to their use for heat and electricity generation, for both near-surface and deep geothermal engineering. In addition, the isotopic geochemistry laboratory is in this department, focusing on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes for the reconstruction of climatic conditions and changes of Earth’s past.

Applied Geology (AG)

Applied geology is divided into two departments: Engineering Geology and Hydrology.

Engineering geology focuses on the investigation of geohazards, such as landslides, in the upland areas of central Germany and the Alps. Most importantly, analysing potential locations, dimensions and time frames of these often catastrophic events is covered. Investigation methods include aerial photograph interpretation, geodesic measurement, direct measurement of movement alongside soil and rock mechanics. Other topics in engineering geology are tunnel and dam construction, contamination investigation, subsoil investigation and landfill construction.

Hydrology is the study of water cycle processes. It covers ground and surface water dynamics, preservation and safety of regional water supplies, karst hydrology and water chemistry. Main methods of this area are isotope analysis and the  chemical composition of waters. This research group also investigate possible ground storage of CO2.

Applied Mineralogy (AM)

The mineralogical institute covers the applied field of building chemistry (cement mineralogy), high-performance ceramics (e.g. phosphorecent materials) and calcium phosphate as bone substitutes. The focus is on reaction processes in mineralogical substances and their influence on material properties. The methods used are primarily x-ray diffractometry, calorimetry and microprobe analysis.

Palaeobiology – Palaeoenvironment (PB, in English)

Palaeobiology covers the evolution of life and ecosystems, with a focus on environmental conditions and processes. It ranges from the early history of life to recent history and the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Important topics are carbonate sedimentology, marine fossils and taxonomy alongside palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Methods include geological field and laboratory work, chemical analytical methods and statistical analysis of large datasets (primarily the Palaeobiology Database, PBDB). Additional information is available on the Palaeobiology homepage.

Earth Systems Research Lab (RL, in English)

The subject Earth Systems Research Lab can only be studied as a Minor Subject. The students work on their own scientific projects and learn how to write project proposals, scientific writing, as well as science communication. They get a geoscientific background for interdisziplinary cooperations and train the major skills for an academic career.

The Geosciences Masters Degree is a two years course (four semesters) totalling 120 ECTS credits. It comprises specialisations in a major and a minor subject alongside two core skill (key qualification) modules and an Interdisciplinary Elective Module. The major/minor are chosen from the six areas of specialisation available at the GeoZentrum Nordbayern. Key Qualifications are subject-specific oriented industry internships, project work, mapping or comparable activities within or outside the university. Any module within the Faculty of Natural Sciences can be taken as an Interdisciplinary Elective Module.

Offered Major/Minor Subjects:

  • Applied Geology (AG)
  • Applied Mineralogy (AM)
  • Applied Sedimentology – Georesources (AS)
  • Petrology – Geodynamics – Georesources (PG)
  • Palaeobiology – Palaeoenvironments (PB) (in English)
  • Earth Systems Research Lab (RL) (in English)

Overview of the modules in the Masters Degree in Geoscience

The Geoscience Masters Degree begins with a knowledge deepening phase which lasts for two semesters. Students attend both major and minor subjects throughout this phase. A core skill and elective module are taken in the first semester and a second core skill module in the second semester. The purpose of this period is to broaden the subject-specific and relevant methodological knowledge.

The following research phase covers two semesters and focuses on practical education. Students work independently in the laboratory on questions from their major subjects and learn how to use specialist geoscience software. In the fourth semester of the Master’s Degree Programme the students work on their concluding Master’s Thesis which is presented in a final Master’s Colloquium.
Detailed description of the modules available as major subjects in the Masters Degree in Geoscience (Course description – German and English)

Industrial internships, mapping, research project or fieldwork (core skills module) can be done in the semester break.

Students have the option to attend the various field trips associated with lectures which are offered by the GeoZentrum. After successful graduation the title Master of Science (M.Sc.) will be awarded.

Career prospects for geoscientists are very good, due to the broad nature of the field and the interdisciplinarity nature of the subject. A wide range of professional fields are available in geoscience, with major subjects in the programme providing a focus towards specific areas. A Master’s Degree enhances career prospects and is often required for project management positions. It is also provides the foundational skills required to continue into doctoral studies (PhD). A PhD is required for many occupations in universities and research facilities.

Geoscience jobs can be found in:

  • Industrial and business enterprises (e.g. exploration, material development, device manufacture)
  • Consulting engineers and business consultancies (e.g. building development, tunnel and dam construction,  geothermal energy, investigation of contaminated sites)
  • Research institutes and Universities (e.g. scientific research, natural disaster forecasting)
  • Educational institutions and museums (e.g. teaching, curatorship)
  • Public authorities and ministries (e.g. water supply, environmental protection)

10 ECTS of the Masters Degree require the completion of two Key Qualification (core skills) modules (SQ-1 and SQ-2, 5 ECTS each) that are scheduled for the second and third semester. Here are some possibilities:

1. Industrial Internships (4 weeks)
2. Geological Mapping (12 days)
3. Fieldwork (12 days)
4. Project work or comparable activities (4 weeks)
The core skill module work must be evaluated by an accredited examiner.

For more information:

Examination regulations for the Bachelors and Masters Degree in Geoscience in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (German), Anlage 3, Unterpunkt 7: Studienplan Master Geowissenschaften “Modul Schlüsselqualifikationen”, P. 27

Students who began studies in winter semester 2016/17, please find regulations here: Examination regulations for the Bachelors and Masters Degree in Geoscience in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (German), Anlage 4: Studienplan Master Geowissenschaften “Modul Schlüsselqualifikationen”, P. 25

Elective modules available in the Geocience Masters Degree. The elective module is scheduled for the first semester. Course plan (German).

Please note, lectures are offered annually. It is recommended to complete modules offered in the winter semester in the first semester and lectures offered in the summer semester in the second semester.

Interested in GIS? Follow the link for GIS offers!

Current Elective Modules for the Geoscience Masters Degree programme are worth 5 ECTS (most modules are in German):

WNF-1: Kristallographie und Strukturphysik (Crystallography and Structural Physics), (a + b = 5 ECTS)

a) Kristallographie und Strukturphysik für Geowissenschaftler und Chemiker (V) (Crystallography and Structural Physics for Geoscientists and Chemists (lecture series)), 2 SWS
Prof. Neder; winter semester; Fr 10.15 – 11.45 am, HD Staudtstr. 5

b) Übungen zu Kristallographie und Strukturphysik für Geowissenschaftler*innen und Chemiker*innen (UE) (Exercises in Crystallography and Structural Physics for Geoscientists and Chemists (exercise)) 2 SWS, Prof. Dr. Hock; winter semester; for time see UnivIS, 0.68 material sciences seminar room Martenstr. 5/7

WNF-2: Werkstoffwissenschaften (Material Science)

a) Modul Glass I

Prof. Dr. de Ligny
Exercise „Vibrational spectroscopies, from theory to practice” (2 SWS, 2 ECTS, in winter semster)
Lecture “Glass and Ceramic for Energy-technology” (2 SWS, 3 ECTS, in summer semester)

b) Modul Glass II

Prof. Dr. de Ligny

Übung „Spectroscopy techniques applied to amorphous materials” (2 SWS, 3 ECTS, in winter semester)
Vorlesung “Glass formulation using project management” (2 SWS, 2 ECTS, in summer semester)

WNF-3: Informatik (Computer Science) (a + b = 5 ECTS)

a) Grundlagen der Informatik (GdI) (V) (Foundations of Computer Science (lecture series)), 2 SWS
changing lecturers; winter semester; for dates see UnivIS

b) Tafelübungen zu Grundlagen der Informatik (TÜGdI) (UE) (Exercises in Foundations of Computer Science), 2 SWS
winter semester; for dates see UnivIS

WNF-4: Geographie (geography)

Grundvorlesung PG: Geomorphologie und Bodengeographie (G-VL I PG) (V) (foundation lecture PG: Geomorphology and Ground Geography), 2 SWS, 5 ECTS
Prof. Bäumler; winter semester; for dates see UnivIS

WNF-5: Biologie 1 (biology I)

Morphologie und Anatomie der Organismen (AnfÜbNeb) (UE) (Morphology and Anatomy of Organisms (exercise)), 5 SWS, 5 ECTS
PD Dr. Huß, PD Dr. Lebert; winter semester

Attention: block course! For dates and registration see UnivIS

WNF-5: Biologie 2 (Biologische Freilandübungen) (Biology II: Biological Outdoor Exercises) (a + b = 5 ECTS)

a) Botanische Freilandübungen (Botanical Outdoor Exercises), 4 SWS
PD Dr. R. Stadler, Dr. J. Schmidl, Dr. E. Döring, Dr. R. Muheim-Lenz
summer semester; for dates see UnivIS

b) Zoologische Freilandübungen (Zoological Outdoor Exercises), 1 SWS
PD Dr. R. Stadler, Dr. J. Schmidl, Dr. E. Döring, Dr. R. Muheim-Lenz
summer semester; for dates see UnivIS

Module description (in German)

WNF-6: Computing and Data Analysis in Geosciences, 5 SWS , 5 ECTS

Prof. Kießling and assistants; start of winter semester block course, see UnivIS

Download Module description

WNF-7: Problem Solving in Palaeobiology (ProSolPal), 2 SWS, 5 ECTS
Prof. Kießling and assistants; start of winter semester block course, see UnivIS
WNF-8: Einführung in die Geographischen Informationssysteme für Geologen (GIS I)Introduction to geographical information systems for geologists, 3 SWS, 5 ECTS
Dr. Krumm; in winter semster; for dates see uniVIS

Last change: October 2021

Master’s Thesis subject has to be chosen by the start of the final semester and after the acquisition of at least 50 ECTS credits. The successful completion of a Master’s Thesis equates to 25 credits. Master’s Thesis colloquium presentation is worth 5 credits.

A Geosciences Masters Degree  prepares students for work in industrial enterprises, engineering companies, authorities and comparable establishments. The degree also lays the foundation for doctoral studies.

After Section 34 of the General Examination Regulations for the Bachelors Degree in Geoscience (BSc) and Masters Degree in Geoscience (MSc) and GeoThermics/GeoEnergy (MSc) the following guidelines for the implementation and assessment of the Master’s Thesis in the Masters Degree in Geoscience:
      • A Master’s Thesis in the Geoscience Masters Degree can be assigned by all full-time professors and habilitated full-time workgroup heads at the GeoZentrum Nordbayern.
      • The students must ensure that they have a topic for their Master’s Thesis. Topic and date of issue have to be confirmed by the supervisor and registered by the student with the added formular at the examinations office.
      • The maximum period for a Master’s Thesis is 6 months (an extension of max. 3 months can be permitted by the examination board in well founded exceptional cases).
      • The Master’s Thesis should follow the rules of scientific publishing and contain the chapters Abstract, Introduction, Material and Methods, Results, poss. Conclusion, Discussion and a list of the References (guideline by the examination board).
      • The Master’s Thesis can be written German or English (with approval of the supervisor).
      • The model title page is required at the start of the thesis.
      • The Master’s Thesis must be submitted to the examination office by the deadline in three casebound copies alongside an electronic form (PDF document on external data storage device) together with the Erklärung des Studierenden zur Offenlegung (declaration of disclosure) and the BAföG-Erklärung (declaration on Federal Law on Support in Education).
      • The Selbständigkeitserklärung (statement of authorship) must also be incorporated into the Master’s Thesis.
      • Two copies of the thesis will be forwarded to reviewers by the examination office.
      • The review of the Master’s Thesis will be done in equal parts by the supervisor and another reviewer. The examination board comprises all full-time professors and habilitated full-time work group heads at the GeoZentrum Nordbayern. (possible grades: 1.0 /1.3/1.7/2.0/2.3/2.7/3.0/3.3/3.7/4.0/5.0 = inadequate).

The text above is only an excerpt from the General Examination Regulations for the Bachelors Degree in Geoscience (BSc) and the Masters Degree in Geoscience (MSc) and GeoThermics/GeoEnergy (MSc). You will find all further guidelines and rules for the Geoscience Masters and the Master’s Thesis in the document.
Latest version: February 2016