Climate warming, earthquakes, floods …Increasing our knowledge for a better management of our planet has become a major challenge that our societies have to face. In order to better respond to this challenge, the Master “Dynamics of the Earth and Natural Hazards” at the University of Montpellier proposes a bilingual high level Master course. It is backed by skilled local and national professional experts in fundamental Earth Sciences research as well as applied knowledge in natural hazards.

Applied skills

The MSc courses address fundamentals of Earth dynamics and analysis of related natural hazards. A special focus is given to deep Earth processes as well as surface-, and climate-controlled processes with an integrated approach combining observation and quantification.

Understanding Earth Dynamics includes fundamentals in tectonics, geophysics and geodesy, geomorphology, numerical modeling, geochemistry and thermochronology, and rock physics. In order to assess natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, coast erosion, submersion and contamination, the syllabus contains teachings in geomorphological mapping, applied geophysics and geodesy, calculation and mitigation of landslides hazards, engineering geology, vulnerability and management. Skills in geological and hazard mapping as well as skills in geophysical imaging and management of large datasets are strongly developed through intensive field work (see below). Competences in quantifying processes are gained through numerous uses of experimentation and numerical simulation. In addition, transverse skills are developed such as english, tutored self-training in computer sciences, and skills related to professional integration.

Connection with national and international research labs and industry

The curriculum includes two internships (6 weeks and 6 month) that offer the possibility to the students to discover both fundamental and applied work in research laboratories, private companies or government agencies.


Fieldwork plays a central part in the syllabus with two ten-days field trips: one during the first year focussing on tectonics and fundamental geological processes (in Corsica, Betic cordilleras, Cyclades), the other during the second year, focussing on seismic and natural hazards (in the Central Apennines of Italy). In addition, most of the teaching units contain at least one day field-training close to Montpellier to illustrate theoretical classes.

  • Detailed knowledge of Earth tectonics and geodynamics
  • Detailed knowledge of natural hazards: earthquakes, landslides, coastal and beach processes
  • State-of-the-art geophysical tools and methods (seismic and electric imaging, geodesy)
  • Fundamentals in rock mechanics and geochemistry
  • Fundamentals in hazard and risk management

Detailed list of teaching units

Overall context and objectives

The Master “Earth Dynamics and Natural Hazards” (DTRN Master) presents numerous specificities.

  • It is based on over 200 years’ experience in Earth Sciences research and teaching in Montpellier.
  • Student enrollment is kept below 25 in order to promote interpersonal dynamics.
  • The syllabus is strongly anchored in observation and proposes numerous field and laboratory internships, so as to acquire a solid hands-on approach in the various disciplines of Earth Sciences (tectonics, geophysics, geochemistry), and strong background in the functioning and management of our planet.
  • It offers academic teaching in fundamental and applied research and includes numerous lectures by professionals belonging to partner companies.
  • The wide multidisciplinary panel of teachings allows students to acquire expertise in the processes and assessments of geological hazards.
  • It is a gateway to numerous jobs either in companies, research labs or in teaching.

General presentation

This program is accessible upon selection, to every person having validated a Bachelor’s degree in Sciences or equivalent. An international opening took place in 2016 including at least half of the courses held in English and internship possibilities in foreign countries.

  • The 1st semester provides basic knowledge allowing each student to grasp about the various units proposed, their content and issues. After this first phase, students can choose their personal way in consultation with the pedagogical team.
  • The 2nd and 3rd semesters are dedicated to more specific teachings either on geodynamics or hazards associated with earth dynamics. The higher amount of optional teaching units offers the possibility to develop a personal and specific career project.
  • The 4th semester consists of a long term internship (5-6 months) either in a company or research lab, which strengthens the professional profile of students and provides them with a highly valuable experience on the job market (company, academic research).
  • In addition to the graduate degree, a partnership with the Ecole des Mines of Alès (70 km from Montpellier) offers the possibility for validating an engineer degree within an optional 3rd year.

Detailed list of teaching units

1st Semester

  • Introduction course
  • Mathematics toolbox
  • Informatics toolbox
  • English for geosciences (shared with GER Master)
  • Quaternary geology and geomorphological mapping
  • Geophysical imaging (shared with GER Master)
  • Rock physics and deformation
  • Physical geodynamics
  • Coastal dynamics and hazards

2nd Semester

  • Internship in a company or a research laboratory (2 months)
  • Geological field class
  • English for geosciences (shared with GER Master)
  • Geochemical geodynamics and geochronology (shared with GER Master)
  • Geodesy applied to geosciences
  • Quantitative geomorphology
  • Calculation and mitigation of landslide hazards
  • Tectonics and lithosphere dynamics

3rd Semester

  • Natural hazards field class
  • English for geosciences
  • Preparation to professional integration
  • Present day deformation and seismic hazards
  • Climatic and coastal hazards
  • Modelling and experimentation
  • Case study in geodynamics
  • Engineering geology
  • Vulnerability and management of natural hazards

4th Semester

  • Internship of 6 months, carried out in a research laboratory or a company.

A 2-month internship in the first year.

Business and academic opportunities

Since our curriculum is definitely multi-disciplinary and multi-scale, this master enables students to pursue careers in France or abroad such as: researcher, lecturer, manager, engineer, consultant and representative within a company or local authorities. One third of the students find PhD position in universities. Two thirds of the students find jobs (fixed term or permanent) in compagnies or consulting agencies such as Fugro Geoid, Soldata Geophysics, Antea, CEA, Total. The domains of expertise are various and numerous including the prevention of natural hazards (landslides, beach erosion…), scientific programming and instrumenting, geophysics, geotechnics or petrophysics.

I learned to be an independent worker and gathered the knowledge in geosciences necessary for my work.

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Marine Jolivet

Master DTRN

The research-oriented teaching units allowed having a first glimpse of the world of research.

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Maxime Bernaudin

Master DTRN