Earth Observation - Physics - master


The Earth Observation discipline teaches techniques for monitoring objects, surface classes, processes and parameters on the Earth with spaceborne and airborne instruments. Earth observation by satellite remote sensing provides large benefits to climate research, environmental monitoring and resource management, particularly in remote and uninhabited areas. The Earth Observation research group in Tromsø specialises in the analysis of satellite images for maritime and cryosphere applications in the High North, but also work with terrestrial applications such as forest monitoring and vegetation mapping.


Duration:2 Years
Location: Tromsø
Credits (ECTS):120
Qualification:Master of Science in Physics
Admission requirements:Bachelor's degree in physics or similar qualification
Application deadline:Nordic applicants: 15 April/1 November
International applicants: 1 December
Application code:Nordic applicants: 4006
International applicants: 2022
How to Apply
Earth observation is a discipline of the Master's degree programme in physics.

The central location of Tromsø in the Arctic has led to substantial activity related to earth observation and remote sensing technologies. Today, around 250 people work with remote sensing in the Tromsø area, producing steadily increasing revenues, which makes it a sector of major economic importance. The Earth Observation group at UiT contributes to this development both through fundamental research and application development. The group has strong connections to the local companies, research institutes and users of satellite images, as well as to international research institutes. The cross-disciplinary collaboration with these actors is vital in the design of useful tools for applications such as oil spill detection, ship detection, sea ice charting and glacier monitoring. The Earth Observation group possesses a large archive of satellite data and ground truth data, participates actively in cruises and field campaigns that collect reference data, and has access to powerful computing facilities.

The objective of the Earth Observation discipline is to teach the techniques used in satellite remote sensing of the Earth, with a focus on environmental monitoring. The tools are drawn from various fields such as signal and image processing, pattern recognition, applied statistics and physics. The aim is further to deliver candidates to the earth observation community, providing competent workers to all levels of the value chain, from users of remote sensing data in resource management and decision-making bodies to industry companies, research institutes and academia.

Exercises, assignments, and Master's thesis projects given are defined in relation to on-going research activity or current scientific interests within the Earth Observation group.

Compulsory courses in the Earth Observation discipline:

  • FYS-3001 Earth observation
  • FYS-3012 Pattern recognition
  • FYS-3023 Environmental monitoring from satellite
  • FYS-3900 Master's thesis in physics

Generally recommended optional courses in the Earth Observation discipline:

  • FYS-3011 Detection theory
  • FYS-3810 Individual special curriculum
  • STA-2002 Theoretical statistics
  • STA-3001 Computer-intensive statistics
  • STA-3002 Multivariable statistical analysis
  • STA-3003 Nonparametric inference

Optional courses should be determined in collaboration with your supervisor in connection with choice of research topic in the Master's thesis. Other optional courses may be approved on application or if recommended by your supervisor. An individual special curriculum or project paper may also be part of the degree.

If the Master's thesis involves work in a laboratory, in the field or on a research cruise, it is mandatory to conduct a course in safety education prior to commencing the thesis.


Term 10 ects 10 ects 10 ects
Optional courses (20 ECTS credits)
FYS-3900 Master's thesis in physics (10 of 60 ECTS credits)
Optional course (10 ECTS credits)
FYS-3900 Master's thesis in physics (20 of 60 ECTS credits)
FYS-3900 Master's thesis in physics (30 of 60 ECTS credits)

Knowledge - The candidate:

  • has a solid basis in natural sciences in general, and in particular in physics
  • has advanced knowledge of theory and methods in one of the offered disciplines of physics
  • has thorough knowledge about mathematical and statistical methods for analysis of physical problems
  • can apply knowledge on new areas of research in one of the offered disciplines of physics
  • has good knowledge of scientific method and knows how to conduct a research experiment
  • can analyse and assess scientific literature and research in the field of physics

Skills - The candidate:

  • can use scientific measurement equipment and carry out advanced experiments
  • can evaluate and analyse measurement data in a critical manner
  • can assess sensors and measurement devices and evaluate and quantify their error sources
  • can use programming tools and advanced software for solving physical problems numerically
  • can work independently with problem solving following scientific method
  • can evaluate and analyse published theories, methods and experiments in the physics literature
  • can carry out an independent, limited research or development project under supervision in physics or related areas

Competences - The candidate:

  • displays good communication skills, oral and written, in the presentation of scientific work for both the general public and for the specialists in the field
  • can analyse academic, professional and research ethical problems in the field of physics
  • displays good working habits and follows the code of ethics in scientific work
  • is able to continue a career within research, teaching, production, development and technical professions in the society
  • can produce a well-structured presentation of an extensive independent scientific work
  • can contribute to new thinking and innovation processes in the field of physics

Admission to the Master's programme in physics requires a Bachelor's degree in physics, or another degree following a programme of study of not less than three years' duration, or similar education approved in accordance with the Norwegian Universities Act section 3-4.

In addition, specialisation in physics worth the equivalent of not less than 80 ECTS credits is required. Normally, an average mark of C or better is required in the Bachelor's degree or similar basis of admission. Students are expected to have skills equivalent to the prerequisites the courses in the study program build upon.

Applicants from Norway or Nordic countries:

The application deadline for Norwegian and other Nordic applicants is

  • 15 April for admission to the autumn semester
  • 1 November for admission to the spring semester.

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries:

The application deadline for International applicants
  • 1 December for admission to the autumn semester. 
  • Are you an international applicant? Read more here
The courses in the study programme have varied forms of instruction, typically lectures, exercises, laboratory work, computer work, or combinations of these.

Special curricula, project papers and the Master¿s thesis are supervised on an individual basis by the department¿s academic staff, possibly in collaboration with external companies or institutions by agreement.

Language of instruction is English and all of the syllabus material is in English. Examination questions will be given in English, but may be answered either in English or a Scandinavian language.

Also the Master's thesis may be written either in English or a Scandinavian language.

The programme leads to exciting career options domestic and abroad within research, industry, administration and teaching, both in private and public sector.
Completed Master's degree studies qualify for admission to PhD-studies in physics, depending on satisfactory marks in the Master's and Bachelor's degree. PhD-studies in physics are offered at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Exchange studies abroad or at the University Centre in Svalbard can be recognised in the Master's degree if recommended by your supervisor, and only if the external courses are validated prior to departure. The period of time for the exchange studies depends on the individual educational plan, and should be planned in collaboration with the student advisor and the students supervisor.

Kirsti Merete Johannessen .jpg

Kirsti Merete Johannessen

Førstekonsulent / Administrasjon
Phone: +4777645150

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Earth Observation Laboratory

Read more about the Earth Observation Laboratory at UiT here: