Licence – DENS


The Department of Geosciences offers a unique training in planet sciences (geology, geophysics, meteorology, climatology, oceanography) supported by leading research teams. The program is particularly advanced in the areas of environmental change and natural hazards. The program is part of the École normale supérieure and therefore offers openings to the disciplines of science and humanities.

The program trains researchers, engineers, and teachers in earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences who are oriented toward the public and private sectors. It offers an opening to the world through international experiences, across disciplines and practices.

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address:

ENS Diploma (DENS)

The ENS diploma consists of training through research, individualized and tutored, and framed each year by a study program. This program specifies the students’ career path and professional project throughout their studies. One of the major assets of the institution is its multidisciplinary approach, to which the diploma devotes an important place.

In concrete terms, the DENS is obtained when a research master’s degree and complementary training are validated. The discipline or field of study and the specialization of this master’s degree define the “main specialization” that will be included in the diploma, representing at least 180 ECTS. At the same time, students acquire additional training representing 72 ECTS (European Credits Transfer System). These courses are provided or approved by the school and are spread over the duration of the diploma, i.e. over 3 or 4 years of schooling depending on the student’s status.

The ENS has student housing on its three campuses (Ulm, Montrouge and Jourdan), which is available to all students, regardless of their entry route.

Courses offered by the Department

The Geosciences Department offers additional optional courses to all ENS students. All the courses of the department are open to the DENS. Each course counts for 3 ECTS of DENS, with the exception of internships.

The particularity of geosciences is the study of natural objects and therefore field work. During the year corresponding to the L3, 4 field internships are proposed: general geology in Barles in the Alps (3 weeks), internship in the Alps with the ISTeP team (10 days), internship on atmosphere at the Pic du Midi (1 week), and internship on Etna (10 days). The M1 internship proposes an oceanography internship in the Mediterranean and geodesy in the Mercantour (2 weeks). The M2 internship in geology, hydrogeology and glaciology takes place in the Pyrenees (2 weeks).

Conditions for obtaining the DENS
  • An M2 Master’s degree from one of the courses co-habilitated with the Department (Master Geosciences or other M2 possible with dispensation).
  • A complementary training of 72 ECTS, of which 24 in geosciences, 24 in other disciplines and 24 at choice.
  • 3 opening experiences: an international experience, a language experience and an inter/transdisciplinary experience.

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address:

First-year admissions via three routes:

University track

Each year, between 10 and 15 students are admitted in parallel to the competitive examination to prepare the ENS Diploma (DENS) in the Geosciences department. These students are selected on the basis of a dossier, followed by an oral interview. They follow exactly the same curriculum (L3 and Master) as the students who entered through the competitive examination.

The training provided by the Geosciences department is aimed at students who are interested in scientific research and who are motivated to pursue their studies in the intellectually varied environment of the ENS.

Admission to the L3 program is based on the student’s file and is intended for students coming from the University (L2 or L3 in Physics or Earth Sciences) or from the CPGE (BCPST, PC, MP and PSI).

Procedure and criteria

Admission is a selective process in which we seek to identify students who are highly motivated by research in the geosciences and capable of benefiting from the highest level of training. We are particularly interested in students who wish to develop original and innovative professional projects. We are also very interested in interdisciplinary professional projects, at the frontier between geosciences and related disciplines (i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Archaeology, etc…). As such, the training is organized to offer the possibility of taking certain courses in other departments of the School.

The selection procedure is done in two steps.

1. First stage: only on file

For applicants from university programs, it is necessary to meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • At least a “mention Bien” in L2 or L3, or be ranked in the top 10% of your class.
  • It is not necessary to have taken previous courses in the geosciences, although this is appreciated. However, it is essential to have taken courses in physics, chemistry and mathematics.

Students who have passed the BCPST entrance exam to the ENS, and the MPI, PC or INFO exams are encouraged to submit their applications.

The application must be declared on the PRINS application.

The file must include (for students from universities and preparatory classes):

  • The application form.
  • An identity photograph.
  • An e-mail address and a telephone number where the candidate can be contacted quickly between mid-June and early September 2021.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • A letter of application explaining the motivation for research and, if possible, describing an experience in contact with research.
  • Two letters of recommendation, in sealed envelopes, from teachers or researchers who have followed the applicant’s education in higher education and/or during a research internship.
  • A copy of university results or quarterly reports since the baccalaureate.
  • A copy of diplomas since the baccalaureate or the foreign equivalent.

NB: Some universities issue their diplomas late. Applicants are nevertheless invited to submit a provisional file including all grades and results they have. Candidates may also inquire about their possible admission to competitions after submitting their file (contact:

2. Second stage: oral tests

After the evaluation of the applications, the selected candidates are invited for two oral tests, which will take place one after the other. Due to sanitary conditions, the tests will be held by videoconference. The technical procedure will be communicated by e-mail to eligible candidates.

  • Specialty test of 30 minutes: 15 minutes of oral presentation by the candidate on a research question of his/her choice, related to the department’s training themes. This presentation may, for example, define a problem, its context and its issues, and present the latest theories or experimental results on this theme. 15 minutes of scientific questions will follow the presentation.
  • General test of 30 minutes: questions and discussion with the jury on the motivation, the training project and the scientific abilities of the candidate.
Application file L3

For the Geosciences department, the application file must be sent in electronic form to the following address:

The letters of support from the referees must also be sent to this e-mail address in the format lettre_soutien_{name_first_name_of_candidate}

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address:

Schedule for the 2021 application process

The general admission procedure is available on the ENS website.

For the Geosciences Department, the schedule is as follows:

  • From March 16, 2021: Candidacy declaration on the PRINS application.
  • Send a complete application file from March 16, 2021, and no later than April 29, 2021 to the Geosciences Department
    (see address and file composition on the admission tab)
  • Jury of eligibility on May 28, 2021
  • Between May 31, 2021 and July 2, 2021: interviews with the candidates invited.
  • July 5, 2021: Jury of admission of the students for the ENS diploma.
Back-to-school schedule

Reception of international students: August 31, 2021

L3 : Beginning of the courses on September 20, 2021

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address:

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address:

Students may attend seminars held in the Geosciences Department

First semester
L3, S1, 1st year

If the newly selected students have clearly demonstrated their motivation, and even their passion for the geosciences, they do not have a complete vision of what the geosciences are today.

Moreover, traditionally, the new classes are made up of different profiles (preparatory courses, universities, naturalist or physicist training). The first semester of L3 must therefore meet several pedagogical objectives: (1) to give each student the basics and tools common to all disciplines, (2) to give a global overview of the major fields of geosciences and the possible interactions between these fields, (3) to make students understand what training through research means: development of a critical mind, importance of reasoning beyond knowledge…

In practice, this semester is divided into 4 types of modules:

  • Field: This is an internship at the beginning of the year, the purpose of which is to confront students with the natural objects they will be studying. The scales of time and space are one of the major issues in all fields of geosciences and it is essential to understand them as much as possible. The field school is the best way to achieve this (3 ECTS).
  • Major disciplines of geosciences: 5 compulsory modules are proposed to discover the major fields of geosciences: Solid Earth, Climate, Oceanography, Continental Surfaces, History and Functioning of the Earth (12ECTS).
  • Tools: The mathematical, physical and computer bases necessary for the study of modern geosciences (12 ECTS).
  • Disciplines to choose: A first limited choice of options, the semester being very busy with the common bases to be acquired (3 ECTS + X ECTS DENS to be chosen). For the moment, these are the modules of geochemistry (applications to the internal earth, fluid envelopes and biogeochemistry) and mineralogy.

Proposed new features: 2-hour slots, major disciplines limited to 20 hours, with personal/group work such as reading articles. Goal: time release, flexibility of the timetable, empowerment of students in their working methods. A seminar slot is freed up so that students can attend and possibly organize some particularly suitable research seminars.

Stage de terrain :
Grandes disciplines des géosciences :
Outils :
Disciplines au choix :

Second semester
L3, S2, 1st year

At the end of the first semester, students have the tools to pursue a more detailed study of all the major fields of geosciences that they have discovered during the first semester. This second semester is therefore the first one allowing the student to define, with the help of his/her tutor and the teaching team, a personalized curriculum. Only two compulsory modules remain: two tool modules (statistics and computer science).

The teaching staff and tutors will ensure that each student retains a minimum of multidisciplinarity in their choice of modules. In addition, there is a one-week experimental fluid mechanics module in the laboratory, which completes the practical aspects of the first semester’s fluid mechanics courses. There are thus 21 ECTS to choose from (+ possibly a number of DENS ECTS) among the 10 modules of optional disciplines proposed. Thus, each major geosciences discipline taught in the 1st semester leads to one or more logical continuation(s).

New: in order to allow an increasing diversity of teachings (such as Ecology) and less overcrowded schedules, some topics previously offered in two semesters (L3S2 and M1S1) are offered here in redesigned versions (e.g. fusion seismology I and II, physics and dynamics of the Earth’s interior, physics of rocks/fluids and def) Students should also have more time for personal work, be less scattered. It is necessary to avoid that students take too many modules beyond their ECTS of licence. The DENS is not necessarily there to over-specialize students in certain themes.

Disciplines au choix :
Modules obligatoires :

For any questions or for additional information, you can contact the teaching secretariat at the following email address: