MSc Physical Geography

Man and Environment under Global Change



2 years Master of Science course taught in German language


Global change - more than a buzz phrase? Dwindling biodiversity, water scarcity, soil loss, deforestation, climate change, unsustainable resource management are all topics of increasing global significance.

Goethe University's MSc in Physical Geography addresses the key issues of global change - landforms, soil, water, vegetation and climate. Our expertise lies in unravelling how humans interact with their terrestrial environment and how global change is influencing these interactions. Our students learn to explore current, past and future environmental changes using both quantitative and qualitative methods such as laboratory analyses, field data capture, environmental modelling, geoinformation science and remote sensing.

Research-based learning

Our MSc programme is research focussed and strongly influenced by the research activities of its lecturers. In your first semester, our core module "Man and environment under global change" will familiarize you with our institute's various research groups and their approach to current research topics. Other, more applied modules such as "Physical-geographic consulting" are designed to train you for employment in industry, planning and development. Research-based learning helps you to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge, qualifying you for future careers in scientific research as well as professional practice.

Geländearbeiten in Marokko

Integrating our master students into our research groups at an early state in their studies trains their scientific thinking, encourages team work and helps them to develop social skills. A two-months (international) practical or research work experience and modules on specialization and professionalization prepares our students early on for their master thesis. Student courseworks and theses are mostly embedded into current scientific and applied projects conducted in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Please note that - although we expect our students to be able to read English texts rather effortlessly - the courses are nearly exclusively taught in German language. Fluency of German in speaking, reading and writing is imperative.

Flexibility - 106 out of 120

Only 14 out of 120 credit points are obligatory core modules with predestined contents. A wide choice of optional course and research modules accounts for the remaining 106 credit points. Together with individual tutoring by our academic staff, this allows you maximum flexibility in developing your own profile and priorities. Do you have a personal preferences for working with computer-based analysis and modelling? Are you particularly fond of soils science and geomorphology? Will you seek employment in the field of global water, biodiversity and climate? You can develop your own tailor-made curriculum by selecting from a wide range of modules both in the core physical geography modules and supplementary topics from other sciences, arts and humanities.

Datenauswertung im Labor

Studying at the IPG

The Institute of Physical Geography and its 45 academic, research and technical staff are situated in the Geozentrum, which was built at the university's Riedberg Campus in 2007. Your learning and research is supported by excellent facilities (see German University Ranking 2010), including laboratories for soil chemical, soil physical and micromophological analyses, the institute's own computer lab for GIS and Remote Sensing, a well-equipped map library and a large selection of field equipment. The faculty's other departments in related disciplines as well as our Science Department Library are only a few steps away. The German University Ranking of 2010 in Geography placed us fourth in the "student support and care" category.


Frankfurt am Main, Germany's fifth-largest city, is at the heart of the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region with some 5 million inhabitants. Its many faces range from dynamic skyscraper metropolis to rural idyll in its outer districts. Its internationality, the rich cultural offering, its central position for traffic by road, rail and air, and its many job opportunities makes "Mainhattan" an attractive university city for German as well as foreign students.


The German federal state of Hesse does not charge tuition fees - studying at Frankfurt's Goethe University is free for both German and international students. There are, however, semester contribution fees for all (approx. 250 Euro including public transport ticket) as well as application fees for international students.

Lehre vor Ort

Career opportunities

The Master of Science in Physical Gography is an internationally recognized degree that enables you to work in various professional sectors as well as continue with an academic career. Our graduates are qualified for employment at universities, ministeries and planning agencies, engineering and consultancy companies as well as non-governmental organisations. They will operate in the fields of nature conservation, environmental protection, natural resource management, land-use planning, development aid, climate change mitigation or science journalism.

Examples for professional careers of Geography graduates from Frankfurt are presented in our graduate portraits.