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Course content

This course teaches the physical processes that control the flow of water below the ground, surface-water groundwater interactions, transport of solutes, and well hydraulics. It aims to give students a sound understanding of how water moves below the surface, including soil and groundwater flow. It prepares students on topics related to groundwater production, remediation of polluted soils and industrial sites, mine drainage and landfill drainage, management of waste water, land planning, shallow geothermics, and hydroelectricity.

The teaching focuses on a physical understanding of key processes in the hydrological cycle that control the state and movement of water in the subsurface. Knowledge that is the basis for addressing practical aspects such as: how to apply common and advanced techniques in hydrogeology, how to solve practical problems and which tools can be used in each case. Analytical and numerical models are applied and benchmarked software will be used to model groundwater flow and transport of solutes. 

Learning outcome

After the course students will have learned the following:

  • Characteristics of groundwater flow in porous and fractured aquifers.
  • Aquifer properties and the effect on groundwater flow.
  • Characteristics of groundwater recharge, flow and discharge.
  • Physically-based equations that describe flow in the unsaturated zone, groundwater flow under natural conditions, and around a pumping well, flow of immiscible fluids, contaminant transport, retardation of chemicals in groundwater, and heterogeneities of underground flow.
  • Competences to decide on appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods commonly used in physical hydrogeology (e.g. piezometric maps, conceptual and numerical models of soils and aquifers, analytical solutions for groundwater flow, multiphase flow, interpretation of pumping tests).
  • Become independent user of existing softwares modelling groundwater.


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.

The course has a limited total capacity to a maximum of 17 students. If the number of applicants exceeds the course capacity, applicants will be ranked in the following order:

  1. Master students in Geosciences at the Department of Geosciences, programme options covering the subject fields hydrology, environmental geosciences and geohazards
  2. Other Master students in Geosciences, other programme options
  3. Master’s level exchange students and other master’s level students at the MN Faculty
  4. New single course students on master’s level

Admission will be decided by drawing lots for applicants who are ranked equally.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

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

  • Bachelor degree in geosciences or applied mathematics.

Overlapping courses

4 credits overlap with GEO3020 – Soil- and groundwater (discontinued)

If you have taken GEO3020 previously and want to take GEO4190, you will get a reduction of 4 credits for GEO4190. This means you will only be awarded 6 credits for GEO4190. To make up for this and get enough credits for the MSc theoretical syllabus you may for example take the course GEO4360 – Field Methods in Hydrogeology (5 credits).


Lectures, 4 hours a week, and exercises/laboratory, 3 hours a week, over a period of 17 weeks. Active participation of the students are expected. There are teaching activities which counts towards the final grade. These include:

  • A compulsory 1-day excursion collecting own data on an aquifer, with submission of a report from the field work. 
  • Two compulsory sessions of laboratory experiments of groundwater flow, with submission of a report from the experiments in the lab. 
  • Around seven sessions of numerical modelling of groundwater flow and transport of solutes, with submission of a report and an oral presentation.

Digital learning modules are available for several of the topics included in the course.

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 Student administration (

We reserve the right to change the teaching form and examination of the course in semesters where 5 or fewer students have been admitted.

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.


There are four compulsory assignments/activities which all have to be approved separately and which counts towards the final grade.

  1. One written report from the field excursion counts for 10%.
  2. One oral presentation of an article in the subject field counts for 20%.
  3. One written report on laboratory experiments counts for 20%.
  4. One written report of a modelling assignment which shall also be presented oral counts for 50%.

Assignments 1, 2, and 3 will be due during the course of the semester. Assignment 4 will be due at the end of the semester.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in 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 have 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.

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 autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language