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Degree: Bachelor of Science
Application required: for Geography as an exclusive option (100%)
not for Geography as a joint-main subject (50%)
not for Geography as a subsidiary subject (25%)
Course commences: winter semester only
Standard course duration: 6 semesters
Focus options: 100%; 50% (with Teaching Degree option); 25%
Format options: full-time / part-time
Language requirements: none
Language of instruction: German and English

Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Note for prospective students interested in coming to Heidelberg University to take the Teaching Degree course qualifying its graduates to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany:

In accordance with the statutory provisions laid down by the State of Baden-Württemberg, students wishing to embark as of winter semester 2015/2016 on a Teaching Degree qualifying them to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany can only do so by enrolling in two-tier courses with a Bachelor/Master structure (polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor programme with a Teaching Degree option; Master of Education course scheduled to start in winter semester 2018/2019).

As of winter semester 2015/2016, the subject described on this page can be studied in a polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor course with a Teaching Degree option. It has to be combined with another 50% subject of relevance for secondary-school education.

For more information, go to

Note for students already enrolled in a Teaching Degree course in the framework of the Examination Regulations for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (GymPO I):

In the winter semester 2015/2016 and later, students enrolled by 31 July 2015 in a Teaching Degree course regulated by the provisions of GymPO I (2009) are entitled to switch to a different main subject under the conditions set out in said GymPO provided that the change is in accordance with the statutory provisions.

In this case, the following transitional regulations apply:

For more information, go to

Course outline

At Heidelberg University Geography can be studied in a variety of B.Sc. courses and in a Teaching Degree programme. Standard course duration for the former is 6 semesters, for the latter 10 semesters.

  • in the Bachelor courses, students graduate with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree
  • in the Teaching Degree programme, students graduate with a certificate confirming they have passed the Academic Examination for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (“State Examination”).

In their potential subject combinations and study focuses, the new B.Sc. courses are similar to the former Diplom and Magister programmes:

  • In the B.Sc. course in Geography as a (sole) main subject (100%), largely modelled on the earlier Diplom programme, the major focus is on geographic content; approx. 25% of the student workload is accounted for by neighbouring subjects (this replaces the former subsidiary subjects).
  • The B.Sc. in Geography as a (joint) main subject (50%) replaces the former Magister programme. Here Geography is combined with another main subject, and the two main subjects account for 50% of the student workload each.
  • The B.Sc. course in Geography as a subsidiary subject (25%) can be taken by students with different main subjects. Emphasis will vary according to the geographical content relevant for the main subject in question.

One traditional feature of the Geography programmes in Heidelberg has been adopted in the new B.Sc. courses for main-course students as well: the balance between physical geography and human geography. Another characteristic of the B.Sc. courses is their special emphasis on the methodologies relevant for the subject.

Since the winter semester 2010/11 an M.Sc. course in Geography that builds on the B.Sc. courses has been on offer. It deals in depth with the various aspects constituting Geography as an academic subject (Physical Geography/Human Geography/Human-Environmental Relations) and enables students to pursue their studies with greater emphasis either on research or on practical and methodological issues.

In the Teaching Degree programme, Geography is studied as a main subject in conjunction with another main subject. Here the programme begins with a four-semester basic course closing with an intermediary examination. In the advanced part of the course, students are normally expected to specialise in Physical Geography or Human Geography, depending on the subject they choose for their State Examination thesis.

Due not least to compulsory participation in certain Physical and Human Geography classes, teaching content is largely identical in all programmes. For more detailed information, consult the Study Guide and the relevant Examination Regulations available from the academic advisors of the Institute of Geography (see below).

Geography today

Geography investigates spatially differentiated natural, economic and social processes, their mutual interdependencies, and their effects on the face of the planet. Accordingly, geographical issues have connections with the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences and economics. In its capacity as an applied science, Geography is affected by changes in societal evaluation and societal interest. One upshot of this is the recent tendency displayed both by Physical Geography and Human Geography (plus economic and social geography) to turn their attention to practically related issues (see below). Situated at the intersection between the sciences, the humanities and the social sciences, Geography – irrespective of the subject-specific matters it engages with – is supremely dedicated to interdisciplinary cooperation.

Study objectives

Students are expected to acquire the skills, methods and knowledge enabling them to analyse and discuss the interaction between spatial factors operating on the surface of the Earth. Geographical knowledge is assembled both via scientific methods (e.g. lab analyses) and via sociological methods (e.g. surveys). The diversity of the degree programme (including field work in the form of excursions and outdoor practicals) results from the multiplicity of procedures, devices and techniques required: geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (evaluation of satellite images and aerial pictures), cartography, lab methods, statistical analyses, archival research, interview techniques, text and media analysis, data processing systems).

Physical Geography uses scientific methods to investigate the geofactors (relief/shaping of the Earth’s surface, climate, soil, water, vegetation etc.) of landscapes, examines their evolutionary and historical legacies (time factor) and describes/models the ecosystemic forces operative in them. By contrast, Human Geography/Economic and Social Geography homes in on the spatial aspects of human activity (production and supply, settlement, education, recreation, traffic/transport, etc.). Whereas earlier it was customary for geographers to set their sights on large spaces, today geographic research focuses primarily on relatively restricted landscapes and regions of different sizes. Geography students learn to appreciate the complex factors at work in small sections of the Earth’s surface and to understand the systemic correlations existing between the geofactors with a major impact on living conditions there. Application-related topics have come to the fore as never before, including such issues as preservation of resources and natural-space potential, global change, urban climate and soil sealing, air and water pollution, waste disposal, etc. Other research focuses include retail trade, local communities, land development planning, urban tourism, regional labour markets, space-related education research and developing countries.

Career prospects for geographers

Career prospects for geographers are legion. Alongside teaching, research and higher education, there are opportunities galore in the planning sector (public and private), in real estate, corporate consultancy, urban marketing or economic development, environmental protection, tourism, public relations, market research, international organisations, service enterprises and industrial firms.

Studying at home and abroad

At Heidelberg University, Geography students are unusually well catered for. Alongside the courses on offer at the Institute of Geography itself, they can also take advantage of the classes offered by the Department of Geography at the nearby South Asia Institute. In addition, the Institute of Geography maintains close relations with partner institutions abroad facilitating one- or two-term study sojourns in other countries in the framework of the ERASMUS programme. The universities in question are those in Bucharest, Budapest, Salamanca, Paris, Montpellier, Stockholm, Bergen, Perpignan, Barcelona, Prague and Loughborough. Alongside their degree programme, students can attend language classes at the Central Language Laboratory and EDP courses at the University’s Computer Centre.

With its departments for Physical Geography, Anthropogeography, Economic and Social Geography, the Geography of North America and Geoinformatics, the Institute of Geography covers a great deal of ground in research and teaching. Students profit not only from the Institute library but also from a well-stocked PC pool. Other institutions with which the Institute cooperates closely are the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) and the Heidelberg Center Latin America (HCLA), all of which offer further scope for our students.

Of particular note are two services from which Geography students can derive direct personal benefit. One is the Geography Internship Initiative brokering addresses for potential internships, the other the student tutors from the Central Study Counselling sector, who look after Geography students from their first term all the way up to the examinations.

Course structure

Main research interests

These include geomorphology and soil geography, hydrology, landscape development, climate research, environmental research, arid-zone research and geoarchaeology, as well as structural, process-related and action-related research in the fields of social and economic geography, i.e. geographical urban research, the retail trade, tourism, economic geography (the geography of services, the geography of knowledge, organisation and social networks), political geography and new cultural geography, society-environment research and development research.

The geography of North America: development of urban spaces, population and economic activity in the United States and Canada.

Geoinformatics: development of new (largely) web-assisted geographic information services (disaster management, e-humanities, agriculture to transport, energy and environment), 3D data processing and analysis.

The Institute pursues its research activities in almost all major regions of the world. For more information on this point, go to the websites of the chairs of Geography and click Forschung (Research).

Formal requirements


Bachelor 100 %

Admission to the course is restricted (criteria are school-leaving grades and selection interviews). The current Selection Regulations for B.Sc. and Teaching Degree (amended) are available here. Applications must be submitted online.

Es besteht eine hochschuleigene Zulassungsbeschränkung (Zeugnisnoten und Auswahlgespräche). Hier finden Sie die geltende Auswahlsatzung. Die Bewerbung erfolgt online.

Bachelor 50%; 25 %

Click here for information on how to enrol.

Supplementary examination (Teaching Degree)

After passing (at least) the Orientation Examination, students can embark on the study of the supplementary subject in both main subjects.

  • subsidiary subject requirements: aptitude assessment procedure
  • main subject requirements: aptitude assessment procedure

International applicants

There are special regulations for international applicants. For more information, apply to the International Relations Office of Heidelberg University (Seminarstraße 2). International applicants can participate in a preparatory course lasting one semester and taking place in the summer term prior to the start of the course proper.

Subject combinations

For the Teaching Degree and the two-subject B.Sc. main course (50%), subject combinations are listed in the Catalogue of Subjects.

Students taking the one-subject-only (100%) Geography course can choose modules from other subjects: anthropology, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, mathematics, medieval and modern history, physics, political economy, political science, prehistory & protohistory, public law and sociology.

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations B.Sc. (100/50/25%, 14 June 2010, last changes 29 July 2015)
Examination regulations B.Sc. (100/50/25%, 14 June 2010)
Examination regulations B.Sc. (100%, 28 March 2007)
Examination regulations B.Sc. (50/25%, 28 March 2007)

Intermediate examination regulations and study regulations Teaching Degree (29 April 2010)
Intermediate examination regulations Teaching Degree (28 September 1983)
Teaching Degree examination regulations (GymPO)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

M.Sc. course

Heidelberg University offers a consecutive M.Sc. degree course in Geography.

Academic advisor

Dr. Stefan Hecht
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348, Office 006
Wednesdays 9 am – 12 noon
phone: +49 (0)6221 544593
fax: +49 (0)6221 544479


Geographisches Institut
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348 / Berliner Str. 48
D-69120 Heidelberg

Secretaries' office

Sona Sykorova
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348
Office 120
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221 544472
fax: +49 (0)6221 544997

Student representation

Berliner Str. 48, Office 102
phone: +49 (0)6221 545564

E-Mail: Seitenbearbeiter
Letzte Änderung: 2018-07-18
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