Goals and tasks
The overall objective of the geosciences is to understand the origin and development of the planet Earth from its formation about 4.5 billion years ago until today. The Earth's surface – and thus the human habitat – is constantly changed and reworked by complex interactions between the geosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere. Geologic processes take place on extreme time scales – from picoseconds (as in chemical reactions on mineral surfaces) to billions of years (as in plate tectonics and biological evolution).
The geosciences have particular societal relevance not only for identification and forecasting of geohazards such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, but also for understanding the background of current environmental and climate change issues: the near and distant future of the earth can be predicted from the record of the geologic past. Geosciences play a central role in answering questions about the impact of humans on "system Earth", the resilience of ecosystems or the availability of natural resources. Geoscientists therefore do not only conduct basic research, but apply their research in practical manner, in particular on topics relating to sustainable environmental development and the supply of raw materials.
The focus of research at the Heidelberg Institute of Earth Sciences is in the fields of solid Earth (including mineralogy, petrology, isotope geology ,and sedimentology), cosmochemistry, environmental geochemistry, paleoenvironment and paleoclimate research, paleontology, and archeometry. These research groups emphasize analyzing processes both qualitatively and quantitatively using state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation. The high analytical competence of geoscientific research in Heidelberg is demonstrated by the 2014 commissioning of the national laboratory for secondary ion mass spectrometry.
Interested in the research and teaching content of the Heidelberg Geosciences? The individual research groups at the institute can be found here.
The Institute of Earth Sciences offers a comprehensive range of courses, with integration between coursework and the research conducted at the institute, especially during the higher semesters. This promotes an early involvement of students in the geoscientific professional landscape. The institute offers bachelor's and master's degree courses in "Geosciences".
The bachelor's course "Geosciences" provides a thorough introduction to the origin and evolution of the "Earth System", taking into account physical cycles and the role of the biosphere. The objective of this first qualification is the acquisition of a solid cross-curricular basic training in the various sub-fields of the geosciences. The course, which is broad in both scientific and practical terms, enables the BSc graduates to independently solve scientific problems. It opens up professional fields of activity in industry and administration for graduates. In addition, it forms the basis for a master's degree in geosciences.
The master's degree course "Geosciences" is based directly on the bachelor program. Like the bachelor program, it is also modular. In close co-operation with the research centers active at the Heidelberg Institute of Earth Sciences, it provides deeper knowledge and practical methodological-analytical skill sets in various fields of geosciences. The goal of the course is to enable graduates to pursue a successful career in industry or science.
Further information about the study of earth sciences in Heidelberg can be found here.