GEO3020 – Soil- and groundwater

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course gives an introduction to soil- and groundwater hydrology, and presents key processes like evapotranspiration, infiltration, subsurface flow and runoff generation in a Nordic landscape. Furthermore, groundwater abstraction and transport of solutes in the subsurface are discussed. Together with GEO2010 – Surface hydrology (continued) it aims to develop a sound intuitive and quantitative sense of the way in which water moves through the land phase of the hydrological cycle.

Learning outcome

After the course you will have the following competence:

  • understand and be able to quantitatively describe key processes in the hydrological cycle that control the state and movement of water in the subsurface (soil and groundwater), and runoff response to precipitation in the Nordic region
  • familiar with the physically based equations that describe these processes, i.e. evapotranspiration, infiltration and the movement of water (including solute transport) in the subsurface
  • perform, evaluate and present basic hydrological calculations
  • experience with field work (discharge measurements), laboratory experiments and the use of observations and modeling tools in hydrological calculations
  • detailed knowledge of a selected topic (summarise and present a scientific paper)


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 following HSE courses must be taken earlier than GEO3020:

For students taking GEO3020 autumn 2014 or later, to have GEO3020 included in your degree you must first pass the following HSE courses:

For further information se website for transitional arrangements between old and new HSE courses.

Recommended previous knowledge

The course builds on GEO2010 – Surface hydrology (continued).


Lectures, 4 hours a week, and exercises/seminar/laboratory, 2 hours a week, over a period of 14 weeks. Two one-day excursions are included, one visit to NVE, introduction and lectures, and one field excursion collecting own data.

Active participation of the student is expected, including oral presentation of a special topic, a written assignment that is based on data collected in the field and laboratory. Digital learning modules are available for several of the topics included.

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:


To attend the lectures it is required that the following courses must be taken before the first lecture:

You will need to provide documentation that you have passed HMS0503 and HMS0504 when you attend the first lecture.

General information about excursions at the Department 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.


Written assignment (20%) and seminar (20%) arranged during the semester, and one written examination (3 hours) at the end of the semester (60%). Approved exercises. All assessments have to be passed separately.

Language of examination

In this course any written exam questions or assignment questions may be available in English only.

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.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2017

The course was taught for the last time autumn 2017.


Autumn 2019

Autumn 2018

Autumn 2017

An examination in the course is offered (given passed tuition), last time autumn 2019.

Teaching language