MSc Topics

We're often asked what themes we have available for potential Masters students. Rather than post a long list of possible topics, here is our advice about looking for a theme.

Advice about looking for a theme

  1. Start early – then we have time to discuss things with you, and make sure that everything (supervisors, computing resources, data and arrangements for any field work) are in place when you start.

  2. We occasionally advertise for specific Master theses. You can find these call for Master theses below on this page. If there is nothing advertised (or nothing that interests you) look at previous Master theses supervised in our group as well as our Publications. Broadly speaking we cover three main themes, which you can see here. However, as you'll see these themes are not exclusive, and if you are not sure whether the idea for a thesis that you have would fit in our group, just come and talk to us. If we think we are able to make useful inputs to your work, we're ready to help you.

  3. Come and speak to us. As a starting point, send a mail to Ross Purves (ross.purves[at] or just drop by my office (25J82) and I'll be happy to talk over your ideas with you. Sometimes others in the group will get involved too, or we will look for outside help.

  4. Think about what interests you – this thesis will be the pièce de resistance of your studies, and you'll work on it for 6 months or a year. You need to be excited about your work.

  5. What are you good at? What are you not so good at? Don't see your thesis as only being a chance to do things you can already do well – it can also be an opportunity to learn new skills, that you will take with you to the job market.

  6. Don't forget that a Masters thesis is a primarily scientific piece of work – that means it must be more than a project which might be undertaken in a GIS consultancy – what are the research questions you will investigate? Often, this seems scary at the start of a Masters thesis, but don't worry, making sure that you can achieve this is what we can help with in supervising your work. Lots of Masters students in our group go on to be authors or co-authors on papers based on their theses.

Available topics

Contested Semantics of Landscape and Land Cover Categories in Switzerland

In a case study in Switzerland, a Master student will document the semantics of an example of a landscape category in different communities of practice, analyse its representations on maps and in GIS, and explore the link between the semantics of that landscape or land cover category with land use from a political ecology perspective.
More information (PDF, 153 KB)
Supervisors: Dr. Muriel Côte (Political Geography), Prof. Dr. Ross Purves(Geocomputation), Dr. Flurina Wartmann (WSL)

Linking perceived qualities of river landscapes from user generated content to public participation GIS

How can we take into account local knowledge and people’s values related to landscapes in the processes of spatial planning and resource management? We are looking for motivated students willing to estimate the potential of different User Generated Content (UGC) sources and methods of information extraction.
More information (PDF, 367 KB) 
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Ross Purves (Geocomputation), Olga Chesnokova(Geocomputation), Sarah Gottwald (Leibniz Universität Hannover)