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Physical Oceanography

The course takes you on a cruise through a sea of central concepts and theoretical models of Physical Oceanography.

CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • MA
Field of studies
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Course dates
01 November 2021 - 16 January 2022
Apply by
31 May 2021 Apply now

The course begins with presenting central concepts in physical oceanography: seawater properties and how they are related through the Equation of State (EOS), water masses and the T-S diagrams used to study them, ocean stratification. The course continues with explaining the fundamental phenomena of ocean circulation with help of the theory: geostrophic currents, the wind-driven and thermohaline ocean circulation, estuarine circulation, oceanic wave phenomena and small-scale processes.

The teaching consists of lectures and tutorials and includes a research cruise with R/V ELECTRA (in collaboration with the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre) where students learn basic methods for observational oceanography.

Application: Contact

Duration of the course: 10 weeks

Course format: Blended*

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Language: English (B2 required)

Nb of ECTS: 7.5 (depending on your home University) Nb of CIVIS scholarships offered: 30 

*Subject to review, depending on the development of the current global pandemic. If overseas travelling and in-person teaching are not advisable, the entire course may be transferred online. 

Main topics

  • seawater properties (temperature, salinity, density) and the Equation of State
  • T-S diagrams, water masses
  • ocean stratification
  • Boussinesq equations
  • geostrophic currents and thermal wind
  • Ekman layers, upwelling phenomena
  • Sverdrup-, Stommel-, Munk models for the wind-driven circulation
  • thermohaline circulation
  • wave phenomena (Kelvin-, Rossby-, Poincaré and internal waves)

Learning outcomes

After taking this course the student is expected to be able to explain central concepts and dynamical phenomena exhibited by ocean circulation from basic equations, carry out a water mass analysis with T-S diagrams, explain principles for the main techniques of observational oceanography.


A written report based on the fieldwork activities and theory learned and written and/or oral exam at the end of the course.

Additional information 

Admission to the course requires knowledge equivalent to Atmospheric physics and chemistry, 30 ECTS or Meteorology I, 15 ECTS and Meteorology II, 7.5 ECTS.

Inga Monika Koszalka is an Associate Professor of Coastal Oceanography at the Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University and holds a research fellowship (Baltic Sea Fellow) at the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre. She has a PhD in Fluid Dynamics, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy. The focus of her research is on mesoscale and regional ocean circulation, its variability as well as ocean interactions with atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere.