Mapping and Navigation - Study line

Learn how to create and utilise detailed 3D maps and precise satellite navigation.

Study line: Mapping and Navigation

Learn how to create and utilise detailed 3D maps and precise satellite navigation.

Accurate maps have always been a prerequisite for human endeavours, and today, more than ever, detailed and precise maps and navigation services are essential for our society allowing efficient transportation, planning, and exploration.

Students following the study line 'Mapping and Navigation' will learn to produce maps from aerial and satellite data, analyse geographic data, and utilise navigation information. The mapping is based on digital aerial photographs, multispectral data as well as laser and radar measurements from aircraft and satellites and covers everything from 3D maps of buildings to mapping of sea levels and flooding on land. To understand how to make exact measurements, students will learn to calculate satellite orbits and how to make corrections for continental drift, atmospheric influence and other sources of error. They will also learn about geodetic reference systems.

The study line 'Mapping and Navigation' focuses on both the collection and use of data. Graduates will be able to develop tomorrow's maps for urban planning and climate change adaptation and develop more accurate services and applications for navigation, which can be used in, e.g. the transport sector.

Academic focus

The academic focus of this study line is the development and use of instrumentation, observation techniques, models, systems, services and decision support tools for mapping and navigation.

Students will also learn advanced mathematical methods to analyse data, design databases and combine spatial information in geographic information systems (GIS). Satellite navigation is combined with mapping to ensure accurate correspondence between the maps and positions derived from satellite navigation data.

Possible specialisation

Within the study line 'Mapping and Navigation', it is possible through the choice of specialisation courses to further specialise primarily in one of the following areas:

  • Data processing
  • Physical and mathematical modelling
  • Instrumentation (No specialisation courses, only project work!)

It is also possible to choose a specialisation through the synthesis and/or master projects.

Requirements for the study line

If you - in addition to the general requirements for the education - meet the following more strict requirements for the selection of courses, the title of the study line 'Earth Observation' will be on the diploma in addition to the title of the general programme 'Earth and Space Physics and Engineering'.

To obtain the MSc degree in Earth and Space Physics and Engineering with the study line in 'Earth Observation,' you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Have passed the Polytechnic Foundation courses (5 ECTS) and the Programme-specific Innovation and Core Competence courses adding up to 25 ECTS
  • Have passed Technological Specialization Courses in 2 categories adding up to 30 ECTS:
    • Programme-specific courses in Measurement Technology adding up to at least 15 ECTS
    • Programme-specific courses in Physical Large Scale Structures and Processes adding up to at least 10 ECTS
  • Have performed a Master's Thesis of either 30, 32½ or 35 ECTS ECTS within the field of the programme
  • Have passed a sufficient number of elective courses –  and preferably selected from the study line’s list of recommended elective courses - to bring the total number of ECTS of the entire study up to 120.


The study lines have all the same requirements as the general curriculum regarding the Polytechnic Foundation and Programme-specific Core competences, including ”Innovation course II”. Each study line only varies from the general curriculum by the specific lists of programme-specific courses and Recommended Elective Courses.

Programme-specific courses in Measurement Technology

To meet the requirements for the programme-specific courses in Measurement Technology  for the study line 'Mapping and Navigation', students must take the following course, which is mandatory for the study line:

30540 Mapping from Aerial and Satellite Images 5 point Autumn E5A (Wed 8-12)

In addition, students must take courses courses corresponding to at least 10 ECTS from the following list:

30350 Remote Sensing 10 point Autumn E4 (Tues 13-17, Fri 8-12)
30510 GPS, GIS and Setting out 5 point June
30554 Global Navigation Satellite Systems 5 point Spring F2B (Thurs 8-12)
30574 Earth observations for monitoring changes (EO4Change) 5 point June

Programme-specific courses in Physical Large Scale Structures and Processes 

To meet the requirements for the programme-specific courses in Physical Large Scale Structures and Processes for the study line 'Mapping and Navigation', students must take the two following courses, which are mandatory for the study line:

30552 Satellite Geodesy 5 point Autumn E2A (Mon 13-17)
30561 Physical Geodesy 5 point Autumn E1B (Thurs 13-17)

In addition, the head of the study line recommends students take following course:

30752 Cryosphere physics and observation 5 point Autumn E5B (Wed 13-17)

Programme-specific courses beyond 30 ECTS will count as elective courses.

The key measurement technologies within mapping are based on aerial and satellite images, where photogrammetric techniques complemented with laser scanning (LiDAR) are used for generating 3D structures (course 30540). Within navigation, the key technology is Global Navigation Satellite Systems that are applied for high accuracy positioning and navigation (course 30554). The fundamentals for mapping and navigation, i.e. the geodetic references and the gravity field, are taught in the two geodesy courses (30552 and 30561).

Classical positioning and surveying techniques, such as levelling and triangulation, are still relevant in civil engineering and are taught in the “Dyrehave” course (30510). More insight into the analysis of spatial and temporal data is given in course 30545.

In 30350 Remote Sensing, a deep insight into sensors and satellite systems used in Earth observation is provided. In course 30574, data from the various Earth observation techniques are applied for extracting information about processes on the surface of the Earth. A more geophysical insight about the cryosphere is provided in course 30752.

Recommended Elective Courses

Any course classified as MSc course in DTU's course base may be taken for credit as an elective course. This includes programme-specific courses in excess of the minimal requirements. Master students may choose as much as 10 credit points among the bachelor courses at DTU and courses at an equivalent level from other higher institutions.

We recommend that you use some of your ECTS points for elective courses on either more of the above-mentioned programme-specific courses or some of the courses mentioned in the list below, as these courses are particularly relevant to the study line:

02409 Multivariate Statistics 5 point Autumn E1A (Mon 8-12)
02417 Time Series Analysis 5 point Spring F4B (Fri 8-12)
02506 Advanced Image Analysis 5 point Spring F5B (Wed 13-17)
30545 Analysis of spatial and temporal data within geoscience 5 point January
30564 Summer School in Gravity Field Science (Physical Geodesy and Earth Observation) 5 point June
30720 Space Physics - Physics of the space environment 5 point Autumn E2A (Mon 13-17)
30755 Climate change - physics and observations 5 point Autumn E2A (Mon 13-17)

You may be able to find other relevant elective online courses in the EuroTeQ Partner Universities' course catalogue

Topic of 30220 Synthesis Project and Master's Thesis

The topic for both course 30220 Synthesis in Earth and Space Physics and the Master's Thesis must be within the study line's focus area.


Head of Study line