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Physics of the Earth and Atmosphere

Master of Science (M.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 master's program "Physics of the Earth and Atmosphere" deepens the knowledge necessary to research the earth and the atmosphere.

Abschlussbezeichnung Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Regelstudienzeit 4 semesters
Studienbeginn Winter semester , Summer semester
Unterrichtssprache English
Credit Points / Leistungspunkte



The Physics of the Earth and Atmosphere is concerned with the study of the physics of the entire earth system, from the earth's core to the earth's surface and from there to space. Furthermore, she deals with research into the atmosphere system, which is part of the earth system, but can be understood as an independent system due to its outstanding importance for humans (weather, climate).

The study of the Earth system, i.e. geophysics, can be further divided into sub-disciplines. Applied geophysics, extraterrestrial geophysics and seismology are prominently represented in the course. In applied geophysics, the subsurface is analyzed using a variety of geophysical measurement methods. Electromagnetic methods of shallow and deep exploration are mainly used. Knowledge can be gained about the subsurface from a depth of a few meters (archaeology, engineering geophysics) to several thousand kilometers (exploration of plate tectonics). In extraterrestrial geophysics, the methods and knowledge gained on Earth are applied to other objects in the solar system (planets, moons, comets). Here too, the focus is on researching the objects and their interactions using electromagnetic methods, e.g. B. the interaction of moons with the magnetosphere of the planets and the solar wind. Finally, seismology deals with the analysis of the propagation of seismic waves and their properties. From these you can get fundamental information about the structure of the earth and its condition inside.

The study of the atmosphere system, i.e. meteorology, can also be divided into sub-disciplines. As part of the course, particular attention is paid to research into the atmospheric boundary layer, which is the lowest layer of the troposphere, research into clouds and precipitation, radiation and radiation transport processes, climatology and polar meteorology. Methodologically, analysis using remote sensing methods and modeling of dynamic processes play an important role. The research is also characterized by modern aspects, such as research into energy meteorology and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).


The course of study comes with two areas of specialisation, namely "Geophysics" and "Meteorology", to be chosen by the prospective student at the time of the application.

The compulsory modules in the "Geophysics" area of specialisation are:

  • Geophysics of the solar system
  • Advanced geophysical field course
  • Space physics
  • Direct current and electromagnetic exploration methods

In the "Meteorology" area of specialisation four out of the following five modules have to be chosen:

  • Clouds and precipitation
  • Atmospheric dynamics and modelling
  • Radiation
  • Atmospheric boundary layer
  • Physical climatology

Modules common to both area of specialisation are "Prognostic Modelling" and "Inverse Modelling" and the modules of the research oriented second part of the course of study.

The elective modules may be chosen from a large set of modules from mathematics, physics, geophysics, meteorology and more, both from the university of Cologne and our partner university in Bonn.



The duration of the programme is two years. The first year is course-oriented and the second year is research-oriented.

Courses of the first semester:

  • Prognostic modelling
  • Two compulsive modules
  • Two elective modules

Courses of the second semester:

  • Inverse modelling
  • Two compulsive modules
  • Two elective modules

Courses of the third semester:

  • One elective module
  • Literature Review of Current Research Topic
  • Project Work

Courses of the fourth semester:

  • Master's thesis

If the beginning of the study is in the summer semester, the courses of the first and second semester are swapped.


The University of Cologne offers structured graduate programs, in the case of this master course this would be the Graduate School of Geosciences (GSGS), to which you can apply with a master's degree. 

As a rule, you will find out during your studies which topics you are particularly interested in. You are welcome to contact the respective research group leaders about a doctorate. Doctorates with cooperating institutions are also possible.


Berufliche Perspektiven

Possible career prospects are:

  • Universities and research institutions
  • Private and public weather services
  • Energy industry
  • Scientific and commercial aerospace
  • Management consulting