Master in Geography
Our interdisciplinary Master's programme in Geography enables students to understand and assess how environmental issues are shaped by biophysical, social, economic, and political processes.
All students take a core module dealing with conceptual and theoretical foundations of geography, and choose a specialisation: either Dynamics in Glaciology and Geomorphology, which covers topics such as the cryosphere, glaciology or alpine geomorphology; or Nature, Society and Politics, which explores nature-society relations in space through thematic entry points such as nature conservation and resource management, rural development and change, water governance, land and environmental conflicts.
Students have a broad choice of lectures and seminars, as well as fieldwork excursions. Students also participate in research projects, notably in the context of their Master's thesis. Our Geography staff offers state-of-the-art quality teaching and mentoring to prepare future geographers to work in professional settings in and outside of academia.
There is also the possibility to do a specialised Master’s degree in one of the two specialisations for students from backgrounds other than geography. This programme is intended for motivated students who are interested in pursuing a career in research, education, environmental consulting and protection, spatial planning, documentation, and administration.
The specialised Master does not give access to the study programme for teachers at the level of secondary II (DEEM or LDM) of the University of Fribourg.
The aim of the studies leading to the award of a specialized MSc in Dynamics in Glaciology and Geomorphology is to deepen knowledge and to perfect competence in the chosen field. Thus, at the end of the course, a student will have shown that they can apply their knowledge to accomplish a research project and will have learned how to work independently or how to integrate into an interdisciplinary research team. The award of the degree requires creative and self-critical talents.
Dynamics in Glaciology and Geomorphology
This option focuses on the study of the physical processes in the Alpine Cryosphere, mountain geomorphology, natural hazards and land-atmosphere interactions in the context of a changing climate. Current research topics include the monitoring of glaciers and permafrost, rockglacier and glacier dynamics, modelling of frozen ground and sediment transfer.
We provide courses on:
- Alpine cryosphere
- Modelling of glaciers and permafrost
- Applied geophysical methods
- Mountain geomorphology
- Field courses (excursions)
Our regional expertise includes the Alps, Scandinavia, polar regions, India, the Andes and Central Asia.
Nature, Society and Politics
This option builds on the theories, debates and methods of human geography to critically examine the ways in which nature and society interact through the lens of power, knowledge and politics. It draws on our expertise in political ecology, environmental history, political geography, and global environmental development and change. Current research topics include a broad range in human geography, such as urban agriculture, water management, wildlife conservation, natural resource management, land tenure, and migration.
We provide courses on:
- New approaches in human geography
- Social theories
- Political ecology
- Environmental history
- Global change, development and ethics
- Social research methods
Our regional expertise includes Central Asia, Western, Southern and Eastern Africa, Oceania, Europe and Switzerland.
Master in Geography
Language of Study
120 ECTS credits
4 semesters full-time
Autumn (September) or Spring (February) semester.
Organisation and Admission
Master's degree programmes are built on the knowledge and abilities that were acquired when obtaining a Bachelor's degree.
Holders of a Bachelor's degree awarded from a Swiss university can be admitted to a Master's degree programme within the corresponding discipline (requires the acquisition of minimum 60 ECTS credits at Bachelor level in the corresponding discipline) without any additional requirements.
The same applies to holders of a Bachelor's degree awarded by a foreign university, provided that the Bachelor's degree is recognised and considered equivalent by the University of Fribourg.
Holders of a Bachelor's degree awarded from a Swiss university or holders of a Bachelor's degree awarded by a foreign university, provided that the Bachelor's degree is recognised and considered equivalent by the University of Fribourg, can be admitted to a Master's degree programme within another discipline with prerequisites (must be successfully completed before starting the Master's degree programme) or additional requirements (can be completed during the Master's degree programme). According to existing agreements, holders of a Bachelor's degree awarded from a Swiss university of applied sciences can also be admitted with prerequisites or additional requirements.
The respective conditions of admission for each Master's degree programme are reserved.
Also offered as a minor study programme (30 ECTS credits).
The ‘Specialised Master of Science in Dynamics in Glaciology and Geomorphology’ and the ‘Specialised Master of Science in Nature, Society and Politics’ require admission by dossier, which must be approved by the Admission Committee and ratified by the Council of the Faculty of Science and Medicine.
Depending on the academic qualification, the Admission Commission can make its acceptance dependent on the fulfilment of complementary studies, which can be completed as part of the supporting courses module.
Applicants also have to comply with the general admission criteria to the University of Fribourg [Reglement über die Zulassung an der Universität Freiburg / Règlement concernant l’admission à l’Université de Fribourg].
The dossier must include the following:
• Motivation letter
• Certificates of prior studies and evaluations
• Letter describing additional experience in the field of the specialised master
Profile of the study programme
The Unit of Geography, part of the University of Fribourg Department of Geosciences, offers a Master's degree that focuses on current environmental problems and encompasses physical and human geography. This study programme provides students with the means to understand and analyse the socio-environmental issues at stake, such as the consequences of climate change, urbanisation and the growing scarcity of natural resources. The programme is based on the complementarity between the approaches and methods used in the natural and social sciences. Throughout the programme, students are taught the theoretical and methodological approaches that are required to assess the environmental issues at stake and thus acquire a professional level of training. All the teaching is delivered in English.
The aim of the specialised Master of Science is to deepen knowledge and to perfect competency in the chosen field.
Thus, at the end of the course, a student will have shown that they can apply their knowledge to accomplish a research project and will have learned how to work independently or how to integrate into an interdisciplinary research team.
The award of the degree requires creative and self-critical talents as well as the ability to communicate ideas and work both in English and their native language.
Integrative, interdisciplinary geography
Reflecting the team of the Unit of Geography, the Master's programme is integrative and interdisciplinary. Apart from providing integrative training, it also gives students the chance to specialise either in physical geography – Dynamics in Glaciology and Geomorphology option –, on topics related to the Alpine cryosphere, glaciology or alpine geomorphology, or in human geography – Nature, Society and Politics option –, on topics of political ecology, management of natural resources (water, land, renaturation and landscapes). This integrative approach is a great aid to understanding and assessing complex environmental systems and the relationship between nature and society. During their studies in Fribourg, with a regard to their Master's thesis the students are assigned to research teams and take part in current research projects. The human dimensions of this unit (around 30 research scientists) and the drive of the research groups provide a supportive, quality environment for all students.
Structure of classes and lectures
The teaching is structured into four modules and is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, fieldwork and conferences.
The course programme consists of four modules:
- A Master thesis module (60 ECTS), under the supervision of a professor, including the written thesis and a preliminary and concluding presentation
- A Common module (15 ECTS), which teaches the conceptual and theoretical bases of geography
- A Specialisation module (minimum 25 ECTS), this module consists of compulsory courses and elective courses destined to strengthen the specialisation chosen by the student. Students are taught the different approaches to human and physical geography, as well as methods of collecting and analysing data.
- A Supporting courses module (remaining ECTS) – this module offers additional teaching in Geography or other disciplines related to the Master orientation, the selection of the courses must be approved by the supervisor of the Master thesis
Special programme items are a regular colloquium/conference in which the students take part. An oversees excursion is also organised every two years (Greenland in 2019, Kyrgyzstan in 2017, Namibia in 2015, Central Asia in 2013, Marocco in 2009), as well as a Swiss excursion every other year.
Topics and additional guidelines
Students may either build their own research topic or choose among proposed topics to be found on
Editorial guidelines and rules for financial support are also available onmoodle
Registration, evalutation and deadlines
The form used for the Registration to the Master Thesis is available
Information regarding evaluation process, explanation of the evaluation criteria and deadlines can be found
The form used for the Evaluation of Master Thesis can be found
Help for students looking to take courses at other Universities and technological Institutes within Switzerland can be found here
Special procedure to validate the Master Thesis
To validate their Master Thesis, students must fill out a form containing the summary of the thesis. A special procedure concerning the completion of this form is available here
Choice of Minor Study Programmes
Students of the Specialised Master do not have a minor subject.
Minors at the Faculty of Science and Medicine
Study Programme ECTS Mathematics 30 | 60* Informatics 30 | 60*
30^ | 60* Chemistry 30 | 60* Earth Sciences 30 | 60 Geography 30 | 60* Special Biology (for Biologists and Biochemists) 30 Biologie A 30 Biologie B
Biologie E (LDM)
30 | 60
Neurosciences 30 Environmental Sciences 30 | 60 Sport Sciences and Motor Control 30 | 60*
^ Mathematics is recommended as a second minor study programme
* This study programme at Bachelor level, supplemented with the appropriate study programme at Master level, provides access to the respective pedagogical-didactic training for the certificate for secondary teaching (LDM).
Minors at all Faculties
Successful graduates have several options:
They can continue their research by engaging in a PhD thesis or they can seek an employment in the public or private sector. Frequent employers include planning offices of local, regional or national administrations, consulting companies, international organisations such as NGO or the UN institutions active in sustainable management and development.
For graduates of the Master of Science in Geography, an additional year in educational science can lead to a teacher diploma for secondary schools (DAESII / LDS II). This is not an option for graduates of the Specialised Master of Science.