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Earth and Climate Physics

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)

The Earth, split open, with Hadley cells and a magnetic field, snow flake, volcano, cyclone, lightning and satellites as symbols of the study course


The bachelor’s degree “Earth and Climate Physics” teaches the basic physical and technical knowledge required to study the Earth & its atmosphere.

Abschlussbezeichnung Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)
Regelstudienzeit 6 semesters
Studienbeginn Winter semester , Summer semester
Unterrichtssprache German
Credit Points / Leistungspunkte



Earth and Climate Physics is a branch of modern earth system science in which the System Earth and the System Atmosphere system are studied. The Sytem Earth includes the earth's body (including research into the earth's body using seismic waves, research into the sources of the earth's magnetic field, research into the structure of the earth's body based on the gravitational field it causes), the earth's fluids (outer core, oceans, atmosphere, ionosphere) as well as its fields (gravitational field, magnetic field). The physical research of the Earth system is known as Geophysics. In addition to classical geophysics, the course also covers applied geophysics, in which the earth's crust or mantle can be explored, depending on the method used.

The System Atmosphere includes the study of physics (and chemistry), especially of the troposphere, also known as Meteorology. The tasks of meteorology include weather diagnosis and forecasting, which requires a detailed understanding of atmospheric processes and the physical laws of large- and small-scale weather phenomena. Research into the atmosphere has become particularly important because of the advancing climate change. Here too, understanding the key physical processes is a prerequisite for describing the climate system and developing climate projections.

The System Earthand the System Atmosphere are closely linked (for example via the oceans and the high atmosphere/ionosphere). The Earth and Climate Physics degree program provides the necessary basics for both systems, but offers students the opportunity to choose a focus (geophysics or meteorology).



The content required for the course is taught in two modules comprising: analysis, linear algebra (vectors, groups and fields), vector analysis, tensor calculation, differential equations, Fourier theory, complex analysis


Physics education takes place in these areas:

Experimental physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, optics)

Experimental physics internship

Theoretical physics (classical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, statistical physics)

Computer Science / Numerical Methods

Data processing and programming

Numerical methods (algorithms, statistical methods, time series analysis)

Earth and climate physics

Introduction to earth and climate physics

Focus modules in geophysics:

  • Geophysical internship
  • Geophysics of the Earth's body
  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics: Oceans, Atmosphere and Space
  • Geophysical exploration and plate tectonics
  • Geophysics of the upper layers of the earth, environmental and engineering geophysics

Focus modules in meteorology

  • Meteorological internship
  • Weather systems and forecasting
  • Physics and chemistry of the atmosphere
  • Dynamic Meteorology
  • Climate system and modeling

The research and professional skills module includes a literature seminar, a professional internship and a bachelor's seminar preparing for the bachelor's thesis.

The course is usually completed with the bachelor's thesis module. In addition to the written bachelor's thesis, it includes a bachelor's colloquium.

The course includes the Studium Integrale, in which courses from a wide range of courses from the entire University of Cologne can be completed.



The course is roughly divided into three parts, which correspond to the years of study.

In the first two semesters, the technical foundations are laid in the modules Introduction to Earth and Climate Physics I (Atmosphere/Meteorology System and Oceanography) and Introduction to Earth and Climate Physics II (Earth System/Geophysics). In mathematics, the modules Mathematics for Physics students I and Mathematics for Physics students II provide the necessary basics. In physics, the basic training takes place in the modules Experimental Physics I (mechanics and thermodynamics) and Experimental Physics II (electromagnetism and optics). In computer science, the basics are laid in the information technology and programming module. This first phase of study is the same for all students.

In the middle part of the course, students choose a focus (geophysics or meteorology). You complete the internship from the focus area and choose two focus modules. The training in physics continues with Physics lab A (experimental physics lab) and the two modules “Theoretical Physics I” (classical mechanics, electrodynamics) and “Theoretical Physics II” (quantum mechanics, statistical physics). In order to be able to solve problems with modern computer methods, the modules Numerical Methods: Statistics and Time Series Analysis and Numerical Methods: Algorithms follow.

In the final stage of study, the training in the chosen focus continues with two additional focus modules. One of the modules can also be chosen from the offering in the other focus area or from an offering from geology. Furthermore, the mathematics/physics elective module will usually be completed in the fifth semester; here, students can also choose from a larger catalog of modules from mathematics, physics (both experimental and theoretical) and physical chemistry to build their own profile. The course is completed with the bachelor's thesis. Preparation for this is the research and professional skills module, consisting of a literature seminar (learning how to research literature, good scientific practice, correct citation, etc.), a four-week professional internship and the bachelor's seminar, in which the topic of the bachelor's thesis is presented.

Berufliche Perspektiven

  • Research
  • Federal institutes and authorities (e.g. testing and measuring methods, monitoring of systems, consulting, research management, administrative tasks)
  • Private and public weather services
  • Energy and oil industry
  • Environment protection
  • Media (e.g. trade press, publishers)
  • Scientific and commercial aerospace
  • Management consulting