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Academic Programme

International Master in Planetary Geosciences

Diplôme national de master contrôlé par l'État


The aim of the IMPG programme is to train future geoscientists to integrate international planetary exploration programmes and, more generally, to critically address fundamental issues related to the evolution of planets including the Earth. Read more

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Official Language

* 100% of courses are dispensed in English
Periods spent abroad
Inside an international research and training Consortium of about 20 partners worldwide.

GeoPlaNet Consortium

IMPG programme benefits from a strong education by research support from the GeoPlaNet consortium, with the teaching involvement of many researchers deeply engaged in international space exploration programmes.


The spectacular progress of space exploration during the last 30 years has allowed the development of Planetary Geosciences, which are characterised by the involvement of specialists of the Earth (geologists, geophysicists, geochemists) in understanding evolutionary processes of other planets, at the international level. Space missions provide invaluable data for planetology studies but data relevant to Earth structure and evolution are also mandatory in the context of comparative planetology. Seismic, geodetic, magnetic, geomorphologic, geochemical and thermodynamical data are few examples that are used in comparative planetology to get a full understanding of Earth’s and the Solar System evolution.


Throughout this programme, you will have a unique learning experience in planetary geosciences based on the strong expertise and collaboration inside an international research and training Consortium of about 20 partners worldwide.


The Master programme is accredited by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (2nd year of master STPE). After completion, students will be awarded a master degree delivered by Nantes Université.



  • The training period will take place in Nantes.
  • Depending on sanitary conditions, the space exploration module may take place at the European Space Agency ESA-ESTEC, the Netherlands.
  • Internship will take place worldwide in the GeoPlaNet Consortium

Programme Leader(s)

Olivier Verhoeven & Sabrina Carpy

Our partners

Research center

GeoPlaNet Consortium
The partnership encompasses space agencies and research laboratories involved in planetary geosciences (see detailed research themes listed here) :



  • VR2Planets : The start-up VR2Planets develops 3D content and virtual reality softwares dedicated to the visualisation of imagery data for geosciences and education purposes. The end-users of these applications are research laboratories and space agencies. Its participation brings a strong added-value as it gives access to original virtual reality tools developed from space exploration data.


Entry requirement

Academic requirement

  • Bachelor's Degree in Earth, Universe or Environmental Sciences.
  • Another bachelor's degree (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Mecanics,...) if you are motivated.
Please note that direct access after a bachelor's degree is not allowed, you must have successfully completed your first year of a master's degree

Target audience

The IMPG programme welcomes you in second year of master if you have done your first year of Master in Portugal (Master degree in Astrophysics and Instrumentation for Space - M1 MAIS) or in Italy (Percorso in Planetary Sciences - M1 PPS). 
  • The University of Coimbra, with its Master in Astrophysics and Instrumentation for Space ascribed to the Physics and the Mathematics departments, does promote interchange between Space Sciences and companies of Space Instrumentation.
  • The International Research School of Planetary Sciences (IRSPS) at Università d’Annunzio in Pescara (IT) offers English-language academic programmes, including Master degree in Planetary Geology and Geophysics ranging across planetary/moon surfaces, interiors (e.g., Mars, Titan and Icy Moons) and terrestrial analogues.


Application procedure

To integrate this second year of master, applicants should hold a 4-year degree in higher education, equivalent to the first year of a master (a 3-year bachelor is not acceptable). Applicants must demonstrate good bases in Earth and/or Planetary Sciences, and basic knowledge in data analysis.

The programme is completely delivered in English. Students whose first language is not English must provide a proof of a good knowledge in English. No requirements in French.

Additional procedure

Particular attention will be paid to applications from students who have completed their M1 or internship in one of the GeoPlaNet consortium partner universities/agencies, including Nantes.

Application procedures for foreign students /étudiants étrangers



You will study at Nantes Université during the first semester (30 ECTS). The courses are specialized in Earth and planetary interiors and surface, physical transport processes, remote sensing, data analysis and space exploration programmes. During the second semester, you will conduct a 5-month internship (30 ECTS) in a spatial agency or an academic research lab at one of the partner universities and have the opportunity to develop a practical experience for your future career.

Content of the programme / Syllabus



  • Earth and Planetary Surface Processes (5 ECTS)
  • Earth and Planetary Interiors (5 ECTS)
  • Fluid Dynamics applied to transport processes (5 ECTS)
  • Lab analyses and field geophysics (4 ECTS)
  • Space Exploration Programmes (3 ECTS)
  • Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing (3 ECTS)
  • Geographic information system (2 ECTS)
  • Data Analysis (2 ECTS)
  • Science and Research communication (1 ECTS)


5-month internship within one of the 20 GeoPlaNet consortium’s members

5-month internship within one of the 20 GeoPlaNet consortium’s members.

There are several exchange programmes for international mobility (Erasmus+, BCI, Isep, Triton,...) and the programme has set up agreements with many foreign universities.

Full time

The courses start in early September and end in mid-January. Internships take place from mid-January to mid-June. Thesis defences are organised in mid-June.

What's next?

Competencies acquired

As a planetary geoscientist, you could integrate international planetary exploration programmes and, more generally, follow careers related to the exploration of the Solar System and beyond. Through comparative planetology, you will be competent to critically address fundamental issues related to the evolution of planets including the Earth.




  • Analyse and model scientific or technical problems in Earth, Planetary and Environmental Sciences,
  • Apply the scientific approach, develop innovative ideas and manage projects,
  • Work in team environments and maintain lasting interpersonal relationships.


  • Develop research skills at a top-level international environment in order to conduct and perform original research projects,
  • Develop learning and self-study methods in a variety of socio-cultural and multidisciplinary environments, which will sustain life-long learning and professional development,
  • Develop innovative skills through cutting-edge numerical tools,
  • Lead a project from the description of its specifications to its fulfilment,
  • Communicate orally and write the results of a methodological or technical study in a synthetic and pedagogical way,
  • Work in a team for the fulfilment of projects in an international context,
  • Construct, formalize and express rigorously (using written, oral, graphic or mathematical language) questions, hypotheses, reasoning, models, observations, protocols, results, interpretations and conclusions,
  • Develop team projects to answer scientific questions.


  • Acquire state-of-the-art knowledge and understanding of the formation, structure and evolution of planetary bodies in order to critically analyse and interpret space mission data,
  • Plan, carry out, describe, analyse and interpret field observations, laboratory experiments and numerical or analogical modelling to answer scientific or technical questions, qualitatively and quantitatively (sampling, measurement, statistics),
  • Combine qualitative and quantitative information, derived from the observation of natural systems, experimentation, modelling and consultation of the scientific and technical literature, to ask and answer new questions in Planetary Geosciences with a multidisciplinary approach,
  • Include the notions of spatial variation, temporal evolution and interaction in natural systems using methods of data analysis and spatialization of information (Cartography, Geographic Information Systems),

Description of the degree in the National Directory of Professional Certifications

Consult the RNCP sheet n° 31500 relating to this degree
Concerning the licences, professional licences and masters registered by right in the RNCP, 1 national sheet defines the common denominators at the level of the diploma mention for each of the universities offering this mention.

What is the RNCP?
  • The National Repertory of Certification is a large national database which lists all the recognised training courses in France, including the expected skills, the access procedures and information on the course and teaching methods. Nantes University has chosen to present its training offer by integrating the RNCP files. The RNCP contains descriptive sheets for each course. The aim is to make the range of courses visible and attractive.

Further studies

  • PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Career opportunities

Business sectors

  • Sectors :
    • Planetology,
    • Space missions,
    • Earth Sciences.
  • Positions :
    • Academic researcher in laboratories in Earth and planetary Sciences.
    • Research engineer in laboratories in Earth and planetary Sciences.
    • Scientist in charge of studies and projects in engineering and technical departments of public and private companies, administrations and local authorities involved in spatial planning, development and environmental monitoring (seismic risks, landslides, floods, environmental diagnosis).
Mis à jour le 19 May 2022.