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Torben Laurberg

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My Education
Torben Laurberg, M.Sc. in Surveying, Planning, and Cadastral Management
Description of my M.Sc. Education

As I could not find any English description of my education as a Chartered Surveyor M.Sc. - at Aalborg University’s own web site (sic!) - the following description of my education - Chartered Surveyor M.Sc. - is quoted from Aalborg University’s paper publication "Chartered Surveyor - A Surveying Education maps out your future" :

The chartered surveyor is often associated with a person walking around in the field surveying and marking out a boundary between two adjoining plots. However, the surveyor is also working with environmental management, physical planning, development of geographical information systems (GIS) etc. Depending on your interests and specialisation during the study, you will typically get a job within one of the following three main fields:

  • The traditional private-practising chartered surveyor is working with “cadastral work” as we call it in the profession. This field comprises development, (subdivision) or change of boundaries etc. Besides, the practising surveyor is also typically engaged in surveying tasks and consultancy on the use of real property.
  • A large percentage of the newly educated surveyors are today employed by the state, counties or municipalities, where they work with environmental and natural resources management. The work may consist in planning tasks where the disposition of new urban areas is to be determined, or where the consideration for nature and the environment is to be balanced with new building projects.
  • Finally, chartered surveyors are working with technical and consulting tasks concerning mapping and planning for large construction works, (e.g. motor roads and bridges). They also develop digital systems for processing of geographic data. An increasingly important task for surveyors employed by public authorities is the development and operation of geographic information systems (GIS).

The education:

The first year you study the basic programme either social or technical science. The next two years of studies are called “the common subjects”. You obtain the necessary basic knowledge of surveying, mapping, registration of real property, land use administration, planning, cadastral work and environmental management. These practical subjects in the course, where you learn how to survey and use the different instruments, make out about half the educational time. Theoretical subjects like law and planning make out the other half of the common subjects. During the last two years of your education you choose a speciality, i.e. you decide yourself which subjects you wish to emphasise in this versatile education.

Your professional interests?

It is an advantage that you want to combine theory and practice, mathematics and law, technology and design as well as planning and administration. You will also work both indoors and outdoors and with both oral and written communication. As more than half of the educational time is group project work, you therefore learn the art of co-operating.

The basic-year study program

There are two entries to the study. Whether to choose on or the other should depend on your interests. One of the few actual differences between the programme in social science is that the students, who have applied for admission at the surveyor’s program via technical science, will be placed in the same main group and typically also together with the students who will study constructional engineering. At the social science, the main groups are formed according to other principles, and the students interested in the surveyor’s study may therefore be distributed to different main groups.

The basic year study programmes are, in principle, structured the same way. The 5-600 new students in the basic study programme in social sciences and technical science, respectively, are divided into main groups of about 100 students, who follow the same traning and have the same secretary. In the first months you are introduced to the special form of study and the new professional subjects.

After that, the “russ-courses” are held (new students were humourously called Russians in the old days), where each main group goes for a hut trip together with older students. The purpose of this course is to get to know each other and among other things learn how Aalborg University works, what a good study life involves, etc.

After the russ-course the students form groups and start on a major project which has to be handed in at Christmas time. At the same time, you follow training in central and basic subjects. In social sciences there are courses in project work, philosophy, law, economy, politics, sociology, statistics, etc., and in technical science there are courses in technology and the society, project work, mathematics, physics and computer science. The courses continue after Christmas, where new groups can be formed in connection with the start of the project work of the spring term.

By the end of the basic-year the students make their final choise of study program, e.g. the surveyors program as presented below.

3rd-4th semester:

The 3rd semester starts with an introduction period to get to know each other. This period is called “The functions of the chartered surveyor”, and ensures that all have a detailed idea of the career possibilities that the course provides. At the same time the lectures present the many exciting projects, subjects and tools that you will meet in the study. In the course of the 3rd semester the students, who have followed the basic-year programme in technical science, have a course in social science, while those, who have followed the basic-year of social science, follow a course in mathematics.

The theme of the first project work is “Spatial Planning”. This means that everybody is working with projects dealing with planning. Even if each group is making its special project work, the theme determines that first a superior plan for a selected area has to be formulated and as the next step the plan is elaborated in details. You may, for example, carry out a project whose purpose is to decide what can be done to make a certain part of a town better to live in. After that, a proposal for a development plan for this area is prepared which also includes how a certain new housing scheme should look like. Examination of the project is held just before Easter.

Concurrently with the project there are lectures in surveying, law, planning, etc.

In the last months of the 4th semester all have to learn how to survey under difficult circumstances. In practice, the students cooperate two by two by surveying a minor urban area. The work is documented in the form of a map of the area, which work is defended at an examination just before the summer holidays.

5th-6th semester

In the surveying program there is a connection between the semesters. Thus, the 5th semester is about realising the type of detailed planning that was carried out during the 4th semester. However, the theme now is “Property development”, and the focus is on land law, cadastral management, and surveying. A major area is surveyed in the field, and the existing property conditions/boundaries are determined. The surveys are presented in a digital map database which forms the basis of the following development of new properties as well as the preparation of the related maps and documents. The project thus corresponds exactly to the process which is carried out by the practising surveyors. Finally, a project is prepared which is based on one of the legal problems met in the 5th semester project. A detailed statement is made of how to handle a cadastral problem legally, for example how to handle a case about establishing a right of way through a property of another owner. At Easter time, the project group is examined in both projects. Concurrently with the project, you have courses in surveying, law, property economics, geographic information systems, and mapping by means of aerial photographs.

During the last few months of the 6th semester you are again working together two by two on making a “control survey”. Each group gets six aerial photographs of a certain area. On the basis of the photos, a number of points are determined which are then surveyed in the field. The last exercise consists in calculating the accuracy o the surveys you have made yourself in relation to very precise aerial photos. The semester is finished with an examination before the summer holidays.

7th semester

During the 7th semester the theme is “Geographic Information Systems”. The project is based on the problems arising when information must be linked to a certain geographic area. This may, for example, be projects on how to present preserved areas on a digital map together with factual information on the area. The project may also be about developing a computer system for an estate agent – a computer system, which makes it possible to search for homes up for sale with for example three children’s rooms, or less than 1 km from a school.

Concurrently with the project work you have courses in law, economics, and the formation of geographic information systems.

Specialisation during the 8th – 10th semester

At this level of your education you have learned all the basic skills which make all surveyors “speak the same language”. In the last year and a half you can specialise in the discipline you find most interesting. You can choose between the following specialisation courses:
  • Mapping and geoinformatics (the technical aspects)
  • Land administration and environmental management (the legal aspects)
  • Planning and development (the planning aspects)
You can also choose to combine mapping with administration of land and in this way maintain a broad education.

Mapping and geoinformatics

New, advanced surveying methods are developed all the time. In the project work during the 8th semester the newest technical aspects concerning surveying are dealt with, including surveying by means of satellites (GPS).

This expanded during the 9th semester, where you work with digital maps, tree-dimensional maps, satellite photos of different types of thematic maps for use in the public or private sectors.

In the master thesis you can for example choose to study a special type of mapping in details.

Land administration and enviromental management

The project work during the 8th semester is based on the spatial planning system and land use legislation in Denmark. Focus is on the planning and regulation methods used to control the development of, for example, a certain town, or the management tools used to protect nature and the environment in the open country.

During the 9th semester you can study in depth the different methods of regulating land use, for example the environmental or legal aspects dealing with real property.

Your own master thesis is usually inspired during your project work in the 8th or 9th semester.

Urban planning and development

You also have the possibility of specialising in planning. This curriculum during the 8th and 9th semester is also followed by other students from faculties of technical and social sciences, as well as by students from other universities. During the 8th semester you work with urban politics, transport planning and social development at both a national and international level.

During the 9th semester the consequences of various forms of planning are investigated in a social and political perspective. You can also choose International Technology Planning, where the international aspects in the project during the 8th semester are in focus, and where at the same time you plan a training period abroad during the 9th semester. The subject of the master is typically based on one of the subjects from the earlier semesters.

Job possibilities

As a graduate from Aalborg University you can choose whether you wish to be employed:
  • in a private surveying company. Licensed surveyors in private practice hold the monopoly of undertaking cadastral work e.g. subdivision etc. The private surveying firms also carry out a variety of mapping and engineering surveys as well as consultancy on legal and fiscal land use issues.
  • by countries, municipalities or the State (including the National Survey and Cadastre) to manage the land use legislation in force, and to work with natural and environmental management, planning, etc.
  • in enterprises and utilities developing and attending to the operation of Geographic Information Systems.
  • by mapping companies producing all sorts of maps for all kinds of purposes.
  • In large engineering firms undertaking surveying and construction tasks in Denmark and abroad.

Studying in Aalborg

In Denmark the surveyor education is only offered at Aalborg University. The students therefore come from the whole country. The study form and the many social activities during the year ensure that you are quickly acquainted with your fellow students. In addition to the activities at the study, there are also many activities in the town of Aalborg – and not only in Jomfru Ane Gade (the amusement street of Aalborg). It is for example possible to practice all kinds of sports and spare time interests. There is always an animated activity in for example the Students’ House, the cinemas, the theatres, the evening schools and the sports halls. Like other university towns in Denmark the good students’ lodgings are in great demand. But the majority find a hostel room, a hostel flat, a youth residence or an inexpensive private room. Furthermore, there are many cooperative and owner-occupied flats which can be paid with state-educational grant. Hiring out of all the student hostels and single private rooms/flats is arranged through IFAK (the recommendation committee for the hostels of Aalborg), while the many youth residences are hired out through the housing associations.

You can find addresses, etc. in the housing leaflet of Aalborg University, which can be sent to you if you contact the student counsellors.

If you’d like to know more about the education - Chartered Surveyor M.Sc. - you can contact Aalborg University:

Aalborg University The Central Study Counselling Fredrik Bajers Vej 5 DK-9220 Aalborg Denmark Phone: +45 9635 9440 on weekdays between 12:00 and 15:00 E-mail:

Aalborg University The Decentralised Study Counsellor at the Surveyor’s Program Fibigerstraede 11, room 100 DK-9220 Aalborg Phone +45 9635 8329 every Friday between 12:00 and 13:00

Aalborg University's web site is:

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