GEO9960 – The General Circulation of the Oceans

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Teaching and exams spring 2022

In light of the most recent infection control regulations, we will at the start of the spring semester 2022 increase our online teaching, while we at the same time try to maintain in-person teaching where this is possible. We hope to go back to more in-person teaching later on in the semester. You will be informed about any changes in teaching or examinations on the semester page, in Canvas or through your regular channels.

Read more about postponed exams for the autumn semester 2021.

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
  • present a given topic in the field of ocean circulation

Admission to the course

PhD candidates from the University of Oslo should apply for classes and register for examinations through Studentweb.

If a course has limited intake capacity, priority will be given to PhD candidates who follow an individual education plan where this particular course is included. Some national researchers’ schools may have specific rules for ranking applicants for courses with limited intake capacity.

PhD candidates who have been admitted to another higher education institution must apply for a position as a visiting student within a given deadline.

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. In addition, PhD candidates must present a given topic in the field of ocean circulation that must be 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.


  • Presentation of a given topic in ocean circulation and three 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 pass/fail scale. 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) Jan. 27, 2022 6:14:01 PM

Facts about this course

Teaching language