Climate Sciences

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 1.66 k / Year(s) Deadline: Apr 30, 2024
109 place StudyQA ranking:3166 Duration:2 years

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Climate and climate change are associated with great challenges. Climate impacts on the natural and managed environment, on our life-support systems, economy, and society are of pressing concern ; they demand for scientists, experts and professionals with a holistic view on the climate system. The Master of Climate Sciences program at the University of Bern offers an adequate and innovative educational scheme and a curriculum outside the traditional disciplines to provide you with the scientific basis and the necessary skills.

The Master in Climate Sciences program provides a broad range of courses and training opportunities for the future climate scientist and climate professional. It facilitates both a general qualification in the field of climate sciences and a sound expertise in an elective climate-related topic.

The Master in Climate Sciences program promotes interdisciplinary cooperation and teamwork and combines education and research in an excellent network of units and faculty members. Studying Climate Sciences at the University of Bern has an international flavor; more than thirty percent of the students have an international background and the courses are held in English. The master's degree in Climate Sciences opens the door for a scientific or a professional career.

As a student of Climate Sciences, you become part of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences, which is operated by the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research. You assemble your curriculum from a broad range of elective courses in the fields of climate and atmospheric sciences, economics and social sciences. In addition, you can take selected courses at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). You carry out your master thesis project at one oft he research units affiliated to the Graduate School of Climate Sciences. Your taylor-made curriculum and the master thesis will lead to one of five specializations.

The Master of Climate Sciences brings together dedicated individuals with different expertise and scientific background. You are invited to join us for this challenge and to learn with us.

The curriculum of the Master in Climate Sciences program comprises 120 ECTS and equals the workload of 4 semesters full time study. A Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts or a higher academic degree are the precondition for admission to the program.

Your choice of electives and the master thesis lead to one of the five specializations:

  •     Climate and Earth System Science
  •     Atmospheric Science
  •     Economics
  •     Economic, Social and Environmental History
  •     Statistics


Important notice for students of the 1st year:

The compulsory course "Climate Science Workshop I (II)" takes place in the week before the autumn (spring) semester starts officially at the University of Bern. Please save the dates and plan to be in Switzerland timely!

  • Climate Sciences Workshop I
  • Climate Sciences Workshop II
  • Graduate Seminar Climate Sciences
  • Master Thesis Workshop I and II

Elective courses (52 ECTS)

You shape your expertise and skills with your personal choice of elective courses. You select your courses from a broad range of lectures, practicals, laboratory courses, excursions, seminars and colloquia. Depending on your research interests and career expectations, you make your choices from a list of elective courses at the University of Bern and a list of elective courses at ETH Zurich. Your supervising committee is willing to advise you in composing a tailor-made, individual curriculum.

Graduate School Elective Courses

  • Oeschger Lectures I
  • Oeschger Lectures II
  • Climate, Air Pollution and Agriculture
  • Quantitative Paleolimnology
  • Dendroecological Field Course

Institute of Plant Sciences

  • Plant Metabolism
  • Laboratory Safety
  • Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology of the Alps and their Forelands
  • Advanced Plant Biology: Paleoecology
  • Paleoclimatological and Paleoecological Excursion to the Swiss Plateau and the Alps.
  • Holocene Vegetation History of the Central and Southern Alps
  • Global Change Ecology
  • Fire ecology and Biodiversity of the past

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

  • Environmental Radionuclides and Nuclear Dating
  • Atmospheric and Aerosol Chemistry

Institute of Geological Sciences

  • Quaternary Dating Course
  • Unconsolidated Quaternary Sediments in Drillholes and Outcrops
  • Environmental- and Limnogeology (incl. field course)
  • Quaternary Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironment
  • Surface Processes, Geomorphology
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
  • X-Ray Powder Diffraction

Institute of Geography

  • Climatology III (Cimate variability and change)
  • Methods of Climate Reconstruction
  • Remote Sensing in Climatology
  • Micrometeorology Field Course (DE)
  • Quaternary Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems: Concepts and Observations
  • Paleosols and Paleolimnology
  • Paleosols and Paleolimnology (Excursions/Field Days; DE)
  • Climate Risk Assessment
  • Seminar in Climatology and Climate Risks
  • Philosophical issues in understanding global change
  • Climatology I (DE)
  • Climatology II (Aerosols, Boundary Layer, Chemistry)
  • Meteorology I (DE)
  • Meteorology II and Weather discussion (DE)

Institute of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science

  • Multivariate Statistics
  • Linear Models and Regression I
  • Linear Models and Regression II
  • Statistical Methods for Climate Sciences I
  • Statistical Methods for Climate Sciences II

Physics Institute

  • Introduction to Atmospheric Circulation and Modes of Variability
  • Introduction to Climate and Environmental Physics
  • Stable Isotopes
  • Glaciology and Ice Cores
  • Introduction to Climate Modelling including Computer Lab
  • Carbon Cycle

Institute of Applied Physics

  • Atmospheric Dynamics
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Radiative Transfer

Department of Economics

  • Seminar: Environmental and Resource Economics
  • Climate Economics: Integrated Assessment
  • Intertemporal Allocation of Natural Resources
  • Climate Economics: Scientific and Economic Foundations
  • Resource Economics
  • Environmental Economics: Introduction
  • Political Economy of Climate Change
  • Microeconomics II

Institute of Political Science

  • Climate and Energy Policy
  • Water Policy

Institute of History

  • Introduction into Historical Climatology

Institute of European and International Economic Law

  • International Environmental Law
  • The International and European Law on Climate Change

Master thesis (60 ECTS)

The MSc program emphasizes strong and competitive research. Consequently, an extended 60 ECTS master thesis is part of the curriculum. You will have the opportunity to work in the research group of your supervisor in a research project in one of the nine participating research units at the University of Bern. The master thesis is usually written in English and may consist of a research article in an international journal. Depending on your career plans, you may wish to carry out an internship (30 ECTS) at an external institution and write a 30 ECTS master thesis at the University of Bern.

Individual academic requirements

The following academic qualifications are required for admission to the specialized master's degree program in Climate Sciences (mono):

a) Bachelor’s degree from a university or an equivalent or higher degree in any area of Natural Sciences or Technology
b) For the special qualifications in Economics and in Economic, Social and Environmental History, a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university in the relevant branches of studies (e.g. B A in History, B Sc in Economics) is required

Admission to the master’s degree program may depend upon evidence of additional knowledge and expertise that was not acquired as part of the student's bachelor's degree program. This coursework may only be completed on an extra-curricular basis. The maximum scope of this additional coursework is 60 ECTS credits. The ECTS credits will be listed separately in the diploma supplement as extracurricular attainments.

As a rule, an average grade (average weighted according to ECTS credits) of at least “good” serves as an additional indicator of suitability. The grades that shall be taken into consideration are those that are available at the time of the interview and submitted with the record of individual achievement. In general, these are grades for at least 150 ECTS credits.

Definitive admission is dependent on an admission interview with the directorate of studies.

The degree used for assessment purposes may not be more than ten years old.

Language requirements

Courses at the Graduate School of Climate Sciences are given in English or, depending on the audience, in German. Advanced skills in English (oral, written and reading) corresponding to CEF level C1 are required. Students with CEF level B2 are admitted to the program with the obligation to reach CEF level C1 within the first year. This can be achieved by taking classes offered by the Academic English Services, for instance. The master thesis is usually written in English. Training in scientific writing and scientific presentations in English are part of the compulsory courses, and you will do a placement test at the beginning of the training.

If existing, you may provide an English language certificate with the admission documents or at the admission interview, but no English language certificate is required at this stage. Non-native German speakers do not have to pass any German exam for admission to the M Sc program.

For the everyday life in Bern, basic knowledge of German is helpful and taking German classes during your stay here in Bern is strongly recommended.

  • Curriculum vitae in table form with uninterrupted chronology of your education and academic studies up to the present incl. up-to-date passport photo (45 mm high by 35 mm wide)
  • Motivation letter (incl. family name, given name, full address, e-mail address, date and signature and – if you have one – mobile phone number)
  • If you are holding a bachelor degree's: Originally certified photocopies of your degree (e.g. diploma and diploma supplement). The correspondence of the photocopy to the original must be officially certified.
  • Originals (stamped and signed) or originally certified photocopies of all official proofs of your achievements (transcripts) with grades/scores
  • Grading system of the degree issuing university, if the grading system is different from ours. Our scale goes from 1 to 6, with 6 being excellent and grades below 4 being unsatisfactory.
  • Brief description of the content/learning objectives of the different courses/lectures (annotated course catalog or module handbook)
  • Originally certified translations of the original documents (e.g. diploma, diploma supplement, bachelor's or master's degree, transcripts of diploma records), if these are not written in German, English, French or Italian. These translations have to be inseparably connected with the originally certified photocopies of the original documents.
  • Photocopy of your valid passport or identity card
  • Application fee: CHF 105
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