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Course content

The subject gives an introduction to hydrology, which is the study of water – its occurence and circulation on land. You will aquire fundamental knowledge on the most important components of the hydrological cycle such as precipitation (snow and rain), evaporation, soil- and groundwater, runoff in streams and rivers.  The water balance is studied both globally and with special reference to Norway, but the main focus is on drainage basins and an understanding of the processes that determine the flow of water from the moment it touches the ground until it runs out into the sea.  Emphasis is on understanding physical processes, including the transport of water and energy in the Earth system.  You will get experience in observation techniques and analysis of hydrological data. Floods and droughts are described separately.

Learning outcome

After taking this subject you will have knowledge about:

  • basic observational practice for measuring the various parts of the hydrological cycle (e.g. precipitation, discharge, evaporation, snow processes)
  • the relation between physical laws that govern geophysical systems (conservation of mass and energy) and hydrological processes
  • how water transports energy through the Earth system
  • modelling tools used to quantify the flow of water and energy in a catchment, at regional and global scales
  • the geophysical system that influences variables that drive hydrological variation, and statistical tools for describing this variation
  • skills in scripting and programming for numerical analysis of hydrological processes


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

In addition to fulfilling the Higher Education Entrance Qualification, applicants have to meet the following special admission requirements:

  • Mathematics R1 (or Mathematics S1 and S2) + R2

And in addition one of these:

  • Physics (1+2)
  • Chemistry (1+2)
  • Biology (1+2)
  • Information technology (1+2)
  • Geosciences (1+2)
  • Technology and theories of research (1+2)

The special admission requirements may also be covered by equivalent studies from Norwegian upper secondary school or by other equivalent studies (in Norwegian).

The course includes a compulsory field course and excursions. A health and safety course for safety in the field must be passed before you can go on these.

Recommended previous knowledge

Overlapping courses

8 credits overlap with GEO2010 – Surface hydrology (continued)


There are 2 x 2-hour lectures and 2 hours exercises/seminars/datalab per week throughout the semester. Active participation of the student is expected. 6-8 compulsory assignments will be set, and these must be approved before the final examination.

There is a compulsory one day excursion for collecting snow samples, a 2-4 day field course, and two mandatory visits to a relevant institute (e.g. NVE, Statkraft, MET). A field report must be written based on the collected snowdata from the snow excursion, and it counts towards the final grade. The field activities are shared with the course GEO2210 – Geomorphology

Attendance at the first lecture is compulsory. Students who fail to meet, are considered to have withdrawn from the course unless they have previously given notice to the Studies administration, email address:

General information about excursions at the Dept. of Geosciences.

As the teaching involves laboratory and/or field work, you should consider taking out a separate travel and personal risk insurance. Read about your insurance cover as a student.


  • 6-8 compulsory assignements must be approved in order to sit the final examination
  • The written field report counts for 30%.
  • Final written examination (3 hours) counts for 70%.

Examination support material

Allowed calculators (in Norwegian), Matematisk formelsamling (Rottmann), Fysiske størrelser.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

It will also be counted as one of the three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: GEO2010 – Surface hydrology (continued)

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)