GEO4960 – The General Circulation of the Oceans

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course will give an introduction to theories of the large-scale ocean circulation on Earth, with a principal focus on mid- and high-latitude oceans. Wind-driven and buoyancy-driven circulation regimes, including their response to changes in forcing, will be discussed. The various topics will be illuminated with examples from observations and both idealized and realistic numerical simulations.

Learning outcome

After completing the course, you will be able to

  • explain classical theories of wind and buoyancy-driven large-scale flows in the oceans
  • discuss how variable bottom topography can impact large-scale flows and alter the underlying theories
  • discuss how mesoscale eddy fluxes can impact large-scale flows
  • analyze observations and numerical simulations of real ocean flow in light of simplified theory
  • interpret and present (to colleagues) one or more scientific papers relevant for the course

Admission to the course

Students admitted at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb. Students enrolled in other master's degree programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

Nordic citizens and applicants residing in the Nordic countries may apply to take this course as a single course student.

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

Formal prerequisite knowledge

Overlapping courses


Teaching consists of 4 hours of lectures per week. Students are expected to participate actively in discussions, and 3 written exercises must be handed in and approved in order to sit the final exam.

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 Students who fail to meet are considered to have withdrawn from the course unless they have previously given notice to the Student administration (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.


  • 3 written exercises must be approved in order to sit the final exam.
  • An oral presentation counts 25% towards the final grade.
  • A final oral examination counts 75% towards the final grade.
  • Both the oral presentation and the final examination must be passed separately in order to pass the course.

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 1 of the 3 attempts to sit the exam for this course if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: 

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

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.

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.

Special examination arrangements, use of sources, explanations and appeals

See more about examinations at UiO

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) Aug. 12, 2022 11:16:09 AM

Facts about this course

Teaching language