1 Guidelines of the Specialized Master of Science in Geography (MSc)

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1 1 Guidelines of the Specialized Master of Science in Geography (MSc) 1.1 General information The Master of Science in Geography is the specialized degree, allowing an individual specialization in geography. Prerequisite for the admission to the Master's program is a very good Bachelor degree in geography (or related discipline) of the Faculty of Science of the University of Zurich or an equivalent degree from a university, which is recognised by the Faculty. Furthermore, specific previous coursework at the bachelor s level is required. For students who have obtained their bachelor degree at a university of applied sciences, admission to the Master's program will be decided based on internal criteria. The general language of the study program is English, but some courses may be held in German, if possible for the student. Standard period of study The standard period for the Master's program is 3-4 semesters, with a maximum period of study of 6 semesters. If a student is not able to complete their studies by the end of this period, he/she is excluded from graduating at the Faculty of Science. A longer period of study may be granted upon reasonable request. Structure The Master s program comprises 90 credit points and is structured into compulsory, core elective and elective modules. The main part of the program consists of the Master s thesis including the Master s exam (which are also compulsory modules). The program offers two different tracks. Track A consists of a Master s thesis with 60 credit points. Track B consists of a Master s thesis with 45 credit points in addition to a module on research methods with 15 credit points. Currently, only version A is possible, as track B is under development. The Specialized Master s program versus the General Master s program The main feature of the Specialized Master s program is the importance of the Master s thesis, with the entire program and the individually combined courses focussing on a specific project. The student needs to develop this project in cooperation with a supervisor from the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich. In addition, the project including all relevant courses must be written down in the Master's Agreement form before starting the Master s program. For those students interested in obtaining the teaching diploma (Lehrdiplom), we do not recommend the Specialized Master s program. The General Master s program is broader and allows better preparation for the teaching diploma. A change from the Specialized Master s program to the General Master s program or vice versa is not generally allowed and exceptions will be made on an individual basis. wegl_specmsc_english_ docx, Ressort Lehre, /5

2 1.2 Admission Prerequisites In order to be accepted for the Specialized Master of Geography at the University of Zurich, several conditions apply. First, the relevant articles of the University Act on Admission (Verordnung über die Zulassung zum Studium an der Universität Zürich VZS) are applicable and must be followed. Second, the necessary prerequisite for the admission to the Specialized Master of Geography is a completed Bachelor s degree in Geography or relevant discipline with an above average grade. Third, specific previous coursework is required, depending on the planned specialization. The coursework may have been completed during the BSc degree or as part of additional training. Missing skills (before the beginning of the MSc) can be obtained during the study program as additional required coursework. However, this coursework should be limited to 30 (and must not exceed 60) credit points. In the case that more coursework is required, admission to the Specialized Master s program will not be granted. The following coursework from one of the specializations below is required for admission: Cryosphere Physical geography and/or other introductory natural sciences: at least 45 credit points (CP), including basic knowledge in cryosphere and geomorphodynamics: at least 10 CP GIS/Remote Sensing: at least 10 CP Soil-Plant-Environment Physical geography and/or other introductory natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology...): at least 45 CP, including basic knowledge in soil-plant-environment: at least 7 CP Mathematics/Statistics: at least 5 CP Hydrology: Physical geography and/or other introductory natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology...): at least 45 CP, including basic knowledge in hydrology: at least 7 CP GIS/Remote Sensing: at least 10 CP Programming: at least 5 CP Geochronology Physical geography and/or other introductory natural sciences (geology, chemistry, biology...): at least 45 CP GIScience Specialization in GIS/Remote Sensing and/or other relevant subjects (computer science, life sciences, psychology...): at least 45 CP, including basic knowledge in computer science (at least 7 CP) and mathematics/statistics (at least 5 CP) Remote Sensing Specialization in Remote Sensing/GIS and/or other relevant natural science subjects (physics, biology, computer science, life sciences...): at least 45 CP, including basic knowledge in computer science (at least 7 CP) and mathematics/statistics (at least 5 CP) Please note that the Specialized Master s program in Human geography (including economic and political geography) is still being developed. Although these specializations are not yet available, they will require at least 45 CP of specific training in human geography or related fields. wegl_specmsc_english_ docx, Ressort Lehre, /5

3 Similar conditions apply for interdisciplinary projects across different units and must be discussed with the relevant supervisors. Procedure If the student fulfils all of the above-mentioned requirements, she or he can follow the application procedure. Applications are possible twice a year (end of January for the fall semester and end of August for the spring semester) and normally start with contacting the potential supervisor (ideally with the application documents/ Bewerbungsdossier). Applications should include a motivation letter, a CV and study record/transcripts (Leistungsnachweis) and should make clear that the student is suitable for the program. If the potential supervisor has agreed to adopt the project, the documents of the student (listed above) will be forwarded to the Student Advising Center of the Department. Once the student advisors and the potential supervisor have checked the written application and that the entrance requirements are fulfilled, students will be invited for an interview to discuss the research project. The best candidates will then be selected. The interviews take place in February (for the fall semester) and in September (for the spring semester). If the student is accepted, the rest of the procedure is the same as for the General MSc, i.e. registration with the Kanzlei adhering to the normal deadlines, and should be followed. wegl_specmsc_english_ docx, Ressort Lehre, /5

4 1.3 Compulsory Modules Compulsory modules are mandatory for all students of geography. For the Specialized Master s degree in Geography, only the Master s thesis, including a Master s exam and participation in a research seminar, are compulsory. The Master s thesis normally lasts two to three semesters Semesters MSc Compulsory module CP The module consists of: GEO 610 Master s thesis 60 Master s thesis (V) Master s exam (MP) Research seminar (S) Master s thesis (GEO 610) The Master s thesis contains all the main features of a scientific work. It has to be completed in max. 18 months. In track B, the amount of work for the Master s thesis corresponds to three quarters of a work-year (one person working nine months at 100%). It is given 60 credit points. The Master s thesis is graded. It is considered successful if a minimum grade of 4 is achieved. If a Master s thesis is given an insufficient grade, the thesis cannot be repeated and the Specialized Master s degree will not be granted. Further information can be found in the information leaflet about the Master s thesis and the Master s exam on the webpage ( Master s exam The Master s exam takes place shortly after the delivery of the Master s thesis (in the same exam periods as the General Master s degree in Geography). It consists of a colloquium presentation and a disputation of a maximum of one hour in duration. The student thereby not only proves him- or herself in being well versed in the subject matter of the Master s thesis, but is also able to integrate the thesis in the context of the geographic research. The Master s exam is passed when given a grade of at least a 4 is given for the Master s presentation and disputation. A failed Master s exam can be repeated once. If the repetition is also insufficient, a Master's degree at the Faculty of Science will not be granted. Further information can be found in the above mentioned leaflet about the Master s thesis and Master s exam. The master s exam is counted as 10% into the final grade of the module GEO 610. Research seminar The participation in the research seminar of the respective group(s) is compulsory, in accordance with the individual study plan and the supervisor. Normally, the participation includes a regular attendance as well as an individual presentation. Feedback from other Master s students or during additional seminars are possible. Research seminars mainly take place during lecture periods. wegl_specmsc_english_ docx, Ressort Lehre, /5

5 1.4 Core Elective Modules (Consolidation Modules) and Elective Modules For the Specialized Master s degree, the student has to achieve at least 30 credit points (track A) with core elective modules (12 CP) and elective modules (18 CP). The choice of the modules depends on the individual research project (i.e. the topic of the Master s thesis) and has to be arranged with the supervisor. This individual study plan must be written in the Master s Agreement form (Mastervereinbarung) and accepted by the supervisor. It is mandatory to do so before beginning the master s study. Changes of the individual study plan are only possible with a written approval by the supervisor. For a list of all core elective and elective modules offered at the Department of Geography, see the Guidelines of the General Master s degree. Depending on the specific research project and topic of the Master s thesis, it is also possible to enroll in other courses at the master s level at the UZH or ETHZ or at other Swiss universities. Please note that the decision about what to include in the individual study program depends on your project and the acceptance of your supervisor. Contact Department of Geography (Building 25) University of Zurich-Irchel Winterthurerstrasse 190 CH-8057 Zürich Switzerland Room Phone Secretariat of the Department 25-K / Student Advising 25-K / wegl_specmsc_english_ docx, Ressort Lehre, /5

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