Department of Geoscience

Study Contents Master Applied & Environmental Geoscience

The AEG course is a 2-year program, beginning in the winter semester of each year. It consists of a suite of 6 compulsory modules (36 credits), 9 elective modules (54 credits) and a Master thesis (30 credits).
The first semester introduces to the necessary theoretical and quantitative aspects of environmental and applied geosciences. It includes three compulsary modules for all AEG students.

The following semesters allow students an individual focus according to their field of specialization:

  • Hydrogeology
  • Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Microbiology
  • Environmental Physics and Environmental Modeling

Each specialization includes three mandatory modules. The remaining six modules can be chosen from a wide variety of classes taught in AEG and neighboring studying programs. 

In the compulsory modules "Scientific Practise 1+2" and "Scientific Presentation" students gain additional practical interdisciplinary skills, and benefit from close interaction with staff and research groups as well as an early start of the Master thesis in the third semester.

Compulsory Modules for all AEG Students
Aquatic and Environmental Chemistry

This course covers chemical thermodynamics in aqueous systems, sorption and partitioning processes of organic and inorganic compounds in the hydrosphere and practical case studies. The objective is to gain quantitative evaluation and prediction capabilities for important hydrogeochemical parameters based on sound thermodynamic concepts. By this, fate and behavior of chemicals in the environment can be predicted.

The course is taught by Christiane Zarfl, Stefan Haderlein and Peter Grathwohl.


Hydrogeology is the science of groundwater. The course has a strong emphasis on physical hydrogeology, covering flow and transport in groundwater systems. Emphasis is given on quantitative description of groundwater flow and solute transport, deriving govering equations and analytical solutions for simple configurations. Computer methods for the solution of groundwater problems are taught in the courses of environmental modeling.

The course is taught by Olaf Cirpka.

Environmental Modeling 1

This course is on the simulation of the terrestrial water cycle with particular emphasis on computer models for groundwater flow. The class, however, also includes modeling of hydrological processes at the land surface, river hydraulics, and general aspects of modeling spatial processes, such as interpolation methods. Hands-on exercises with computer programs used in practice are combined with introductions to the underlying principles.

The course is taught by Olaf Cirpka and Claus Haslauer.

Scientific Practice 1 & 2, Scientific Presentation, Master Thesis

Scientific practice is a research-oriented internship within the work groups of the Department of Geosciences, or an external internship in a company or research institution. The key objective is to participate in research projects from the second semester on. In the third semester, scientific practice is targeted at the formulation of a research agenda for the Master thesis, which has to be prepared in the following six months. Integral part of the scientific practice program is the presentation of the thesis results in a seminar in the fourth semester (scientific presentation).

All work groups participating in AEG contribute to the supervision within scientific practice.

Compulsory Modules in Each Specialization
Compulsory Modules in "Hydrogeology"

Applied Hydrogeology

This module includes a lecture and a field course on hydrogeological field investigation techniques. The curriculum includes pumping tests, slug tests and tracer tests, among others, involving the theoretical background (taught in the lecture), the practical field application, and the analysis of data after the field course.

The course is taught by Carsten Leven.

Contaminant Hydrogeology

Sources for groundwater contaminations can be complex both in terms of the contaminants involved as well as with respect to their areal extent of the pollution (e.g. local point sources such as landfills or large scale industrial areas). In this module students learn to address real case scenarios of contaminated sites and to interpret the inherent contamination characteristics due to subsurface conditions and the compounds under consideration. The comprehensive overview on practical aspects of contaminant hydrogeology involves building of conceptual models of a contaminated site, assessing potential risks and developing solution strategies for subsurface contaminations, a key competence of environmental geoscientists.

The course is taught by Michael Finkel and Peter Grathwohl.

Geotechnical Engineering

This module includes a lecture and a lab course on engineering geology. The lecture gives an introduction to the fundamentals of geotechnical engineering (soil and rock classification, geotechnical investigation methods, parameter estimation in soil mechanics). In the lab course experiments are conducted to determine standard hydrogeological and geotechnical parameters of various soil and rock materials.

This course is taught by Johannes Giere of Prof. Dr. Ing. E. Vees und Partner Baugrundinstitut GmbH (lecture) and Carsten Leven (lab course).

Compulsory Modules in "Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Microbiology"

Environmental Microbiology and Geomicrobiology

This course discusses the degradation of organic pollutants as well as the consequences of different biogeochemical processes on the fate of inorganic pollutants including bioremediation processes. These topics are discussed in the context of redox zonation, thermodynamics and kinetics of microbial processes. A second focus is on microbe-mineral interactions including biomineralization processes. Lectures as well as students presentations based on recent scientific articles are part of the course.

The course is taught by Andreas Kappler and Caroline Schmidt.

Hydrogeochemical Modeling

This course deals with chemical thermodynamics in aqueous systems and includes lectures as well as computer exercises. Course contents include: Chemical thermodynamics in aqueous systems; chemical speciation modeling (quantitative hydrochemistry); sorption and partitioning processes of organic and inorganic compounds in the hydrosphere; practical case studies.
Participants will have: Knowledge of basic principles and features of chemical speciation software codes; quantitative understanding and are able to predict aqueous speciation, dissolution of and complex formation at minerals, redox conditions using chemical modeling software; informed application of PHREQC software.

The course is taught by Silvia Orsetti.

Environmental Analytical Chemistry

Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is one of the most important analytical techniques to determine the occurrence and fate of new emerging polar pollutants in the water cycle, e.g. pharmaceutical residues, corrosion inhibitors, organophosphate flame retardants. The course focuses on principal approaches and applications of LC-MS analysis. This includes the basic principles and operating parameters of electrospray ionization, mass separation and ion detection. Approaches for target and non-target analysis and multi-residue methods are demonstrated by practical examples and can be exercised in an accompanying lab course.

The course is taught by Christian Zwiener.

Compulsory Modules in "Environmental Physics and Environmental Modeling"

Environmental Modeling 2

This course covers the simulation of (reactive) solute and heat transport. First, reactive processes (inter-phase mass transfer, chemical transformations, microbial growth) and conservative transport are considered separately, followed by the analysis of coupled reactive-transport systems. Like in Environmental Modeling 1, hands-on exercises and in-depth analysis are combined to gain a deep system understanding of reactions and transport of solutes in the subsurface.

The course is taught by Chuanhe Lu.

Case Studies in Environmental Geosciences

This course in the third semester of the M.Sc. programs gives the students the opportunity to create their own (simple) reactive-transport model. Larger assignments are handed out to be worked upon independently in groups over the largest part of the semester.

The course is managed by Olaf Cirpka and the groups are supervised by various researchers in Applied Geosciences.

Physics of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

The flow field within the Atmospheric Boundary Layer (ABL) is of interest to not only meteorologists but also to those students who want to know about the role of the atmosphere in environmental science and its application in geography, agriculture, forestry, ecology and engineering. This course aims to present the main features of the ABL and its turbulent characteristics to understand the basic interactions between the atmosphere and the underlying Earth's surface under different regimes.

The course is taught by Jens Bange.

Elective Modules

The remaining six elective modules can be chosen from the list of compulsory modules of other specializations within AEG or other modules listed in the module handbook.

We recommend the following elective modules:

Earth Processes

General introduction to geology for non-geologists; understanding the system earth (e.g. rocks and minerals); surface processes acting on depositional environments (e.g. rivers, wind, oceans); landscape evolution; internal processes (e.g. earthquakes, plate tectonics)

GIS and Remote Sensing

Introduction into Geographical Information Systems for computer generation of maps and quantitative analysis of satellite data, includes practical computer exercises

Advanced Topics in Flow and Transport

Yearly changing topics covering aspects of mathematical modeling of flow and solute transport in rivers, soils, and aquifers. Potential topics may include e.g. Conformal mapping and other analytical methods for potential flows, Laplace-transform and Fourier-transform techniques for transport, Calculation of sensitivities, Finite Element Methods, Solving ordinary differential equations

Principles of Model Calibration

Calibration of mathematical models; gradient-based methods; local vs. global calibration; Markov-Chain Monte Carlo method; data assimilation; handling of different error types; ambiguity of models; hands-on applications

Water Treatment

Introduction into underlying processes of physical and chemical water treatment (coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration)

Lab Course Geomicrobiology

Cultivation and microscopic characterization of microorganisms, and quantification of microbial activities under well-controlled laboratory conditions

Environmental Isotope Chemistry

Understanding the behavior of stable isotopes in anorganic and organic compounds for process identifcation and environmental forensics

Lab Course Environmental Chemistry

Analytical methods for organic & inorganic contaminants in environmental samples

Spectroscopic and Microscopic Analysis in the Environment

Synthesis of minerals; geochemical modeling; Mössbauer spectroscopy; scanning electron microscopy

Environmental Risk Assessment

Assessment of environmental risks by chemicals; regulatory framework (e.g., REACH); exposure analysis; effect analysis; deterministic and probabilistic risks assessment; site-specific analysis of chemical risks

Sustainable Environmental Biotechnology Systems

Systems approach to design renewable bioenergy systems (bioreactors); biomass-to-bioenergy conversion; integrated course including physics, bioengineering, environmental impacts, economics, and sustainable development


Fundamentals of general and applied geophysics: gravitmetry, geomagnetics, environmental magnetism, geoelectrics, electromagnetics, ground penetrating radar, seismics, tomographic methods, with practical exercises

Advanced Geophysics

Advanced geophysical assessment methods focusing on magnetics and near-surface geophyiscal site characterization techniques

Suggested Elective Modules of the MSc Geowissenschaften

The following modules of the MSc Geowissenschaften are recommended for AEG students holding a BSc in Geoscience. Some of these courses are taught in German. Please refer to the module handbook of MSc Geowissenschaften regarding prerequisites for participation.

  • Applied Tectonics and Surface Processes (Ehlers)
  • Angewandte Sedimentgeologie (Aigner)
  • Explorationspraxis (Aigner)
  • Faziesanalyse (Aigner)
  • Sedimentgeochemie (Schönberg)
  • Isotopengeochemie (Taubald)
  • Erzlagerstätten (Neumann)
  • Marine Geologie und Geochemie (Schulz)

Further modules can be offered on an irregular basis. Regularly offered modules outside this list can be taken for credit upon permission of the head of the examination committee. Please check the module handbook.

Core Lecturers

The main lecturers in the AEG course are professors at the Department of Geoscience at the University of Tübingen and their research associates. Some courses are taught by external lectureres, like professors from other universities, scientists from research institutes, or experts from practice.