The MSc programme offers the opportunity to specialize in one major subject area of Physical Geography by designing an individually tailored Master’s programme. This programme allows for a clear specialisation and qualification in an individual field of interest. In-depth modules and topics for Master thesis mirror the three research pillars of the Physical Geography branch of the Institute of Geography in Erlangen, which include:
- Climate research
- Environmental Analysis
Each of these pillars is studied within the institute in manifold facets, for example glaciology, physical climatology and paleoclimatology in climate research, soil science, biogeography and dendroecology in case of environmental studies, and hyperspectral remote sensing, radar remote sensing and modelling and simulation in case of geoinformatics, respectively. On the one hand, the theoretical seminars as well as the practical courses convey knowledge and skills to analyze and assess processes and effects of environmental changes in different environmental contexts, with special focus on environmentally sensitive regions like high mountain areas, polar regions and deserts, or tropical environments.
Climate & Environmental Sciences is a two-year (4 semesters) degree programme that in taught in English and comprises 120 ECTS credit points. All students start with a thorough education in scientific writing as well as with a graduate seminar on one of the three research topics. The first three semesters are dedicated to the individual specialisation, in particular due to state-of-the-art as well as novel methodological training. These modules are offered as „traditional“ lab courses but also as hands-on courses in methods of geoinformatics and climate research (data modelling and analysis, programming). Students acquire further methodological knowledge by choosing elective modules. One (ungraded) elective module can be replaced by an internship of at least six weeks. They also attend courses in elective subjects that may be chosen freely from the offerings at the FAU but that should usefully supplement their knowledge in their field of specialisation. As such, students are free to shape their individual elective study programme in a highly flexible way. Students apply knowledge and skills gained in the course of study to date in the regional context of a field trip. Another essential part of the programme is an advanced training research course: due to their work in a mini-project (usually integrated in ongoing research activities of the institute), the students are actively involved in organisation and logistics of research, data acquisition and analysis, knowledge generation and knowledge transfer. The fourth semester is dedicated to the Master’s thesis, which focuses on one of the chosen major topics. Semesters abroad are not compulsory, but can be arranged (e.g. through the ERAMUS programme and partnerships with universities).
The Master’s programme has a clear research focus and qualifies participants for a PhD at a University or for scientific work in research institutions or governmental agencies. Graduates also qualify for a large variety of exciting and challenging positions in consulting, management, or public services.