University of Tartu starts to teach remote sensing and geoinformatics under an international master’s programme

Next autumn, the first students start their studies at the University of Tartu under the international joint curriculum “Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management”. The joint curriculum is supported by a three-million-euro grant from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus Mundus joint master degree programme is coordinated by the University of Twente (the Netherlands). From the University of Tartu, the Department of Geography is involved. Also, Lund University (Sweden) and Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) participate in the programme.

The two-year English-taught master’s programme allows students to study in two countries and earn a double degree diploma of two universities. They can choose between four study tracks, spending the first year either in Tartu or Lund and the second either in the Netherlands or Belgium. Each partner university brings their strengths to the programme. The University of Tartu Department of Geography is responsible for explaining and analysing the nature of social and environmental issues by various methods of geoinformatics and remote sensing.

“Proficiency in geoinformatics and remote sensing is important for a better understanding of today’s global and social issues,” said Senior Research Fellow in Geoinformatics and Head of the Department of Geography of the University of Tartu Evelyn Uuemaa. “This is the first master’s programme in Estonia to focus on applied remote sensing and geoinformatics. In addition to sharing our knowledge in the field, our task in the programme is to help to understand social processes such as increasing mobility, urbanisation and changes in the land use and climate. We are not opening a new curriculum of the University of Tartu, but studies are closely connected with the courses of the existing curriculum “Geoinformatics for the Urbanised Society”, fully curated by the Department of Geography,” said Uuemaa.

In addition to the Department of Geography, also Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu will participate in the implementation of the curriculum by teaching remote sensing. Assistant Director of Tartu Observatory, Research Professor in Applied Remote Sensing Anu Noorma is very optimistic about linking the observatory’s research in remote sensing to the master’s programme. “We would like to give students the opportunity to learn from the best experts in the field and participate in real research on satellite remote sensing. I am very happy that our young colleague, Associate Professor in Remote Sensing Krista Alikas has accepted the challenge and contributes to the programme by teaching remote sensing,” said Noorma.

Graduates of this programme will be able to work in both public and private sector as specialists or analysts of spatial data, remote sensing or geoinformatics, or as consultants for planning and regional policy. Internship is a compulsory part of the studies, aiming to give the students an understanding of the choices and opportunities in the job market. Associated partners of the programme in Estonia are the Estonian Land Board, the responsibilities of which include ensuring the availability of up-to-date and easy-to-use spatial data in the country, and the IT and business consulting company CGI Estonia. Both the Land Board and CGI Estonia also offer internship opportunities for students.

According to Martin Jüssi, Director of Space and Earth Observation activities at CGI Estonia, information extracted from geospatial and satellite data helps the organisations and companies of various fields take and justify their business decisions. “Raw data, however, needs processing so that valuable information could be extracted from it, and this processing is nowadays often automated by software,” said Jüssi. “To make sure such software functions properly, its developers need to understand the nature and value of spatial data. Therefore, both public and private sector need skilled specialists who can work with spatial data and bring the information extracted from it to users. I believe the joint programme will significantly support the development of experts in geographic information systems. Moreover, the opportunity to gain additional experience abroad definitely increases the value of its graduates in the job market,” he added.

Admission to the Erasmus Mundus joint programme “Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management” has already started and applications are accepted until 15 March 2021. For more information, see the web page of the programme.

Further information:

Evelyn Uuemaa, Senior Research Fellow in Geoinformatics and Head of Department of Geography, University of Tartu, 737 5827,
Anu Noorma, Assistant Director of Tartu Observatory, Research Professor in Applied Remote Sensing, University of Tartu, 737 4571,

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820