Surveying (geodesy) deals with determining the figure of the Earth, whereby the perspective extends to Earth as a whole or to parts of it. Responsibilities range from determining the Earth’s shape and gravity field, satellite geodesy, to creating and maintaining an array of height benchmarks via topographical ground surveys through to cadastral surveys (land registry surveying) and to rearranging rural regions and urban development or of monitoring the deformation behaviour of buildings and structures. An understanding of global dynamic processes and of a comprehensive environmental monitoring system provides geodesy with important data. The turnabout from classical surveying to modern Earth observation is also shown by the measuring tools and instruments. Automated devices, modern satellite technology and digital remote sensing methods are being introduced. Automated integrating, analysing, interpreting and visual processing methods have become ever more important given the volume of space-related data. Hence, the degree programme studied at many universities is now called "Geodesy and Earth Information Systems".
Engineering surveying is also important for the field of civil engineering.
Cartography is responsible for producing maps, the planated and scaled-down symbolic representation of parts of the Earth’s surface and of processes taking place in them. The diversity of these responsibilities calls for links with many areas of science, such as mathematics, computer science, astronomy, geophysics, meteorology, geology, geography, civil engineering, architecture and other auxiliary sciences.
Geoinformation systems is a new interdisciplinary field that acts as a bridge between computer science/information systems, on the one hand, and the geosciences/Earth sciences, on the other. It deals with the development and application of methods for the computational solution of specialist problems in fields of research, business and industry, politics and administration in which the spatial relevance of information plays an important part. The acquired knowledge and insight led to the field of GeoInformation Systems (GIS) and so facilitated the optimal exploitation of space and place-related data, such as used in environmental protection, in traffic and transport management through to state-of-the-art wireless (mobile) network engineering and navigation satellites, and in building and construction.
Geodetic surveyors and cartographers will above all find employment opportunities in the civil service, in particular in the surveying agencies and authorities, in the land registries (geodetic engineers) and in the cartography offices (cartographers). Besides these fields, geodetic engineers can also take up freelance careers as publicly-appointed geodetic engineers. Cartographers also have employment opportunities in cartographic publishing houses and institutes. Mining surveyors in their capacity as specialist geodetic surveyors largely work in the state mining agencies as well as in mining corporations.
Geoinformatics specialists work in fields such as urban, regional and area planning, in logistics, traffic and transport, navigation, radio network planning for telecommunications companies, in utility and waste disposal companies, as well as in the fields of software and hardware development and system integration.
In-sessional, study-integrated internships of several weeks, such as in surveying and land registry authorities, surveying offices; in some cases, it is recommended to complete these internships before the studies begin.
Modules on the scientific and mathematical principles of the subject as well as on topics like engineering mathematics, experimental physics, geo(Earth)sciences, geodata programming, statistics and geodetic computation, geodetic metrology, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), engineering geodesy and geodetic control points, geoinformation and cartography, regional planning, land and real estate management, photogrammetry and remote sensing, curve fitting, astronomical, physical and mathematical geodesy, positioning and navigation, engineering geodesy and geodetic evaluation methods, image processing, computer graphics/visualisation, law, business administration and economics. Depending on the university in question, various opportunities for specialisation and core study are offered.
Studies may be divided into a basic and a main study stage.
Depending on the school/vocational qualifications, students are generally required to complete a pre-study internship of several weeks. Practical phases of varying length are completed during the studies.
Modules on the mathematical and physical principles as well as on subject areas like surveying specific data processing and CAD, geodetic computational methods, instrument science, surveying science, land registry cadastre and law, land surveying and curve fitting, geoinformation systems, image processing, remote sensing, traffic routes and civil engineering, cartography, planning science, specialisation on optional subjects. Complementary general studies modules.
Base modules in mathematics, projective geometry, geography, statistics. Subject specific modules such as principles of cartography, geomedia engineering, presentation techniques, map editing, thematic and topographical cartography, data processing/geoinformation systems, geodatabases, interactive and multimedia cartography, geodata management, remote sensing, graticule science, surveying science, photogrammetry, multimedia cartography, internet cartography. Complementary modules on business management and law.
Mathematical, scientific and subject-specific base modules: Engineering mathematics, introduction to geoinformation systems, applied physics, geometrical-graphic principles/CAD systems, operating systems, software engineering, programming, database systems, geodetic computation, land management, curve fitting, sensor engineering and special evaluation methods. Subject specific extended and consolidation computing in fields like GIS technologies, digital cartography, remote sensing, official geoinformation systems, telematics, key qualifications in law, foreign languages, business management, presentation techniques.
The degree programme is also offered at some universities.