Switzerland, in the heart of Western Europe, is an intensely creative country that has won more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation and is one of the three most important research nations in the world. Switzerland`s natural beauty is stunning and the Alps invite to skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Being a country with four official languages adds to Switzerland`s cosmopolitan flair.
Bern – Switzerland’s capital – is located in the center of the country close to the French-German language border. The city’s appearance has remained virtually unchanged for centuries, earning Bern a place on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites on a par with the Taj Mahal. The world-famous Berner Oberland – offering exciting mountain sports – is an hour away by train. And since Bern is a relatively small city with a population of only 130’000, it takes only a few minutes by bicycle to get out into the surrounding pastoral countryside. The city itself has much to offer: countless cafés and bars in the old town, swimming in the clear-blue Aare river, and a myriad of talks, art shows, plays and concerts. Small wonder that a recent study rates Bern as one of the ten most liveable cities in the world.
The University of Bern
The University of Bern is a public institution, with eight faculties, covering the following fields: Economics and Social Sciences, Humanities, Human Sciences, Law, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Science as well as Theology. Bern is internationally renowned for its outstanding interdisciplinary climate research and its first-rate university hospital. The historic roots of the University of Bern go back to 1528. Most of the 140 institutes are located within walking distance of the historic main building. The infrastructure is of very high quality and, thanks to its relatively small size of 14‘000 students, the ambience is friendly and personal. The university offers sports classes to all students in almost any discipline. On top of this, a rich sightseeing and social programme is organised for all international students throughout the whole semester.
Institute of Geography
The Institute of Geography at the University of Bern is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in Switzerland. Research and teaching at all levels focus on the integrative aspects of geography, combining physical with human perspectives. Professors and students develop concepts and methods at the intersection of physical and human geography. This approach is based on a longstanding tradition, and the application-oriented aspects of this approach will be increasingly in demand in the areas of sustainable development and natural resource management, climate change, natural risks, globalization, conflicts between North and South, urbanization, large-scale landscape changes, and uneven regional development.
The Institute has three divisions:
• Physical Geography: Paleogeoecology and Landscape Development; Climatology and Meteorology; Hydrology; Applied Geomorphology and Natural Risks; Remote Sensing; Phenology–Topoclimatology; Soil Science.
• Human Geography: Urban Planning and Landscape History; Economic Geography and Regional Development; Social and Political Geography and Gender Studies.
• Centre for Development and Environment: Natural Resource Management; Sustainable Regional Development; Livelihood Systems; Concepts and Tools for Development Cooperation.
We offer a Bachelor of Sciences program (3 years or 6 semesters), a Master of Sciences program (2 years or 4 semester), and a Ph. D. program of 3 to 4 years.
The Institute works closely with the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research. This center offers an internationally oriented Masters degree in climate sciences.
Most Master-level courses are taught in English and students from abroad will not have a problem if they do not speak German. There are also opportunities at the University and in the city to take German or French language classes.
The fall semester runs from late September to mid December. The spring semester starts in late February to the beginning of June.