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Basics of Physical Oceanography



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-31 - 2020-09-30
Cost 14 875 SEK

The course provides a basic introduction to the principles that govern the flow in the sea at different scales from the smallest turbulent vortices to the large-scale circulation in the oceans.

A major emphasis is on describing various physical phenomena using a quantitative mathematical expression. The course deals with the following elements: Basic properties of a fluid including the driving equations for mass conservation, momentum and energy, coordinate systems and effects of Earth rotation and the derivation of simplified sets of equation describing large-scale oceanic flows.


For admission to the course, 120 credits of completed courses within natural sciences are required, of which at least 15 credits in mathematics (analysis and linear algebra).

Grant opportunities

EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees. More information on:

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe how the physical properties of seawater influence oceanic flows
  • Define the different terms in the equations of fluid motions
  • Describe the main effects of Earth rotation on oceanic flows
  • Describe the main properties of flows in hydrostatic and geostrophic balance

Competence and skills

  • Know the definition and relevance of the most important physical properties of seawater
  • Know the equations of fluid motion for a rotating fluid
  • Perform mathematical derivations and make calculations for some idealized flow cases

Judgement and approach

  • Know how to apply fundamental principles of physics and mathematics to develop a quantitative understanding of ocean dynamics
  • Understand standard simplifications and common limitations that are often associated to studies of ocean processes


ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography