Master of Science Earth System Science: Hydrosphere

General information

The Master's degree program in Earth System Sciences is part of the most comprehensive Earth Science course in Switzerland. It is offered by the Faculty of Science (MNF) of the University of Zurich (UZH) in collaboration with the Department of Earth Sciences (D-ERDW) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ). Attaining a Master's degree entitles the student to continue studying at the doctoral level. The faculty can make admission to a Doctorate course dependent on further conditions.

The program offers students to specialize in either the Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere or Anthroposphere. Irrespetive of the specialization, the program provides the students an extensive understanding of the Earth system, including interactions and relationships between the various Earth spheres.

Program structure
The master’s degree program (total 120 ECTS) comprises four terms, including the Master's dissertation (30 ECTS) and an internship. Additionally, 16-18 ECTS consist of compulsory modules and 42-48 ECTS of required elective modules. Courses offered:

  • Introductory to the Department of Geography
  • Current topics in Earth System Science
  • Sedmentology I: Physical processes and sedimentary systems
  • Sedmentology II: Biological and chemical processes in lacustrine and marine systems
  • Oral deposits I
  • Applied mineralogy and non- metallic ressources I
  • Topics in geochemistry
  • Planetary geochemistry
  • Advanced geochronology
  • Numerical modelling of ore forming hydrothermal processes
  • Thermodynamics applied to earth materials
  • Electron beam microanalysis
  • Phase petrology: from phase diagrams to magma genesis
  • Masterarbeit (Master Thesis)

General description. Die Erdsystemwissenschaften (ESS) zeichnen sich durch eine intensive Zusammenarbeit verschiedener Wissenschaftsdisziplinen aus. Ihr Ziel ist es, durch fundiert wissenschaftliche Kenntnisse und breites Fachwissen, Interaktionen und Prozesse in und zwischen den verschiedenen Sphären zu verstehen, zu beobachten und zu beschreiben, zu analysieren und zu prognostizieren. Dabei befasst sie sich sowohl mit vergangenen als auch mit aktuellen und zukünftigen Prozessen sowie deren Zusammenhängen und Rückkoppelungen. 
Studierende der Ersystemwissenschaften bedienen sich dazu theoretischen, experimentellen und beobachtenden sowie modellierenden und simulierenden Methoden. Auf verschiedenen Massstäben werden modernste Methoden und Techniken der beobachtenden, experimentellen, statistischen und räumlichen Analyse benutzt, um den aktuellen Zustand der Erdsysteme und ihre Zukunft zu prognostizieren. 
Das ESS-Studium erlaubt so eine neue Generation von Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler auszubilden, die den Herausforderungen, welche an kommende Gesellschaften unserer Erde herangetragen werden, gewachsen sind. 

Im Rahmen des Masterstudiums kann man sich in einer Fachrichtung der Erdsystemwissenschaften zu spezialisieren. Dabei müssen die Spezialisierungen immer aus mindestens zwei Sphären bestehen. Folgende Spezialisierungen werden angeboten: 

  • Lithosphäre 
  • Hydrosphäre 
  • Biosphäre 
  • Anthroposhäre 

Das Augenmerk wird im Verstehen und Erfassen von globalen Zusammenhänge gesetzt. Dabei wird ein vernetztes Denken gefördert. Es ist eine berufsbefähigende Qualifikation für akademische geowissenschaftliche Berufe. Der Master-Grad dient als Basis für eine Dissertation. 

Contact Person: (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0532 - Marine Geology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "0588 - Scientific modelling


Venue: University of Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland


Open from
1 May 2016 to 30 Nov 2016


 CHF 720.- per semester. More information at Semester Fees and Contributions.


The following academic degrees exempt the holder from having to pass any further examinations for admission to the a Master’s degree course:

  • A Bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Science of the University of Zurich, whereby the Faculty determines which types of the Bachelor's degree are required for admission to the respective Master's degree courses.
  • Corresponding degrees of Swiss and foreign universities which are generally recognized by the Faculty, or recognized by subject. In terms of paragraph 1, such degrees are reviewed according to the stipulations of § 3 of the Bologna guideline of the Swiss University Conference.

Further possibilities for admission to a Master’s degree course: the Faculty assesses all other qualifications, in particular those from universities of applied sciences, according to its own criteria, whereby. The principle of equal treatment applies to assessing the equivalence of Bachelor's degrees The Faculty can require the fulfillment of additional conditions in form of evidence of academic achievement. The Faculty decides about the acceptance of academic achievements and credit points which were obtained elsewhere.

Specific requirements. Das Masterstudium setzt den erfolgreichen Abschluss eines BSc in Erdwissenschaften einer schweizerischen Hochschule oder eines BSc in Erdsystemwissenschaften oder Geographie der UZH voraus oder eines anderen äquivalenten BSc Studiums. 

Application Procedure:

If you think you meet the admission requirements, you can apply using the online matriculation form. In case you are not yet in possession of an entry qualification (Swiss, German, or Austrian university entry qualification, high school diploma, Baccalaureate, or other recognized certificates) at the time of application or before the application deadline expires, please submit them on receipt. There is an application fee of CHF 100.- (CHF 400.- for late applications).

Application Deadlines

  Fall semester Spring semester
Swiss and foreign qualifications 1 December - 30 April 1 May - 30 November
If a visa for Switzerland is required 1 December - 28 February 1 May - 30 September


Academic level: Master


The student's achievement is assessed at the end of each module. Achievements are graded on a scale from 1 to 6, whereby 6 denotes the highest grade of achievement and 1 the lowest. Half-grades are permitted. A grade below 4 is insufficient. Achievements can also be graded with 'passed' or 'failed'. 

Qualification: Master of Science

Occupations (not validated):
Spotted a mistake in this page? Click here to request a change.