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MSc in Applied Environmental Geology

An Integrative Approach

MSc in Applied Environmental Geology 

Technical geological information is required for all geo-environmental site investigations, ranging from designing foundations to assessing contaminated land. In the developed and developing world, large areas of derelict industrial land are now being remediated for other uses, and in such areas site investigation demands the integration of both geotechnical and geo-environmental skills. Additionally, environmental protection and sustainable development now underpins legislation in most countries. Typically, individual projects involve elements of geotechnics, ground contamination and environmental assessment. It is this integrative approach that forms the basis of this MSc programme.

The Cardiff MSc in Applied Environmental Geology is focused on providing students with skills appropriate to a career with geo-engineering and geo-environmental consultancies, with regulatory authorities and government.

Programme Learning Outcomes

MSc in Applied Environmental Geology 

Students will be equipped to:

  • Describe and explain the core scientific principles and concepts of soil and rock mechanics, water flow, and pollution of soil, water and air.
  • Identify the standards, regulations, policies and legal frameworks required for the practice of applied environmental geology
  • Design and execute geotechnical, geophysical, hydrogeological and geo-environmental site and laboratory investigations, analyze the data and develop solutions for geo-environmental problems.
  • Communicate effectively (written and orally) in multi-disciplinary teams, act ethically and in conformity with health and safety regulations, and assess the sustainability of policies and projects.


Teaching runs from October to April. Subject areas include:

Students may specialise during their five-month project period, which is undertaken in association with an industrial partner.

Field, Laboratory and Numerical Skills

MSc in Applied Environmental Geology

South Wales provides a wide range of geoenvironmental and geotechnical case studies and site visits. For the academic year 2011-2012 the students have undertaken  10 field visits and associated field work. This includes site visits to Cardiff Bay, AMD Big Pit and landslides in the  South Wales Valleys. Field work includes surveying in Cardiff Bay, rock engineering in Swansea , site investigation at Porthkerry  and Bournville landslide, contaminated soil studies  at Barry Docks and the Bryn Pica landfill. There are no additional fieldwork costs, and the day trips typically start at 9:30 and finish at 16:30

The students will also be involved in laboratory work covering several modules (the two geo-engineering modules and water in the environment). This includes standard laboratory tests covering the physical and mechanical properties of soils and water flow experiments to learn hydrologic and hydrogeologic concepts. The School has excellent geochemistry, geotechnical and IT laboratories and access to additional analytical facilities in the University.

MSc in Applied Environmental Geology

You will use numerical tools to solve real world problems. This includes  software such as CorelDraw, mapping with Surfer, geo-engineering software Rockscience and Landsim and hydrogeologic modelling using MODFLOW. Finally, you will also develop transferable skills such as report writing, oral presentations, data processing, and technical drawing.

Core Reading Lists

  • Hoek, E. & Bray, J.W. 1981 Rock Slope Engineering, 3rd ed. Inst Mining and Metallurgy, London
  • Bell, F.G. 1987 Ground Engineer's Reference Book, Butterworths, pp. 115
  • Craig, R.F. 1997 Soil Mechanics.
  • E. and F.N. SponHead, K.H. Manual of soil Laboratory Testing. Pentech Press
  • Harris, M and Herbert, S. 1994. Contaminated land: site investigation, assessment and remediation — ICE Design and Practice Guide, Thomas Telford, London
  • Dept. of Env., 1995. Landfill design, construction and operational practice, Waste Management Paper 26B
  • Hughes, D. 1992. Environmental Law. Butterworths.
  • Price, M. (1998). Introducing Groundwater, RoutledgeDomenico, P. A. 1998 Physical and chemical hydrogeology. New York, Wiley
  • Lilesand T.M., Kiefer R. W. 1994, Remote sensing and image interpretation, Wiley
  • Reynolds J., An introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics, Wiley, 1997

For Further Information

Dr Peter Brabham M.Sc. Applied Environmental Geology Degree Course Director
Telephone: +44(0) 29 2087 4334