Earth Sciences with a Preliminary Year (BSc)

A preliminary year at Cardiff University can provide you with the academic background you will need for a science degree.

There are often good reasons why able students may not have the appropriate A-levels/AS-levels to enter the first year of a science degree programme. If you find yourself in this position, taking a preliminary year can provide you with the strong academic background suitable for progression onto a science degree. On successful completion of the preliminary year, you will automatically progress into the first year of your chosen degree programme.

You can find out more about our degree programmes in Earth and Ocean Sciences on course finder.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF641
Duration4 Year(s)
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerABB
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.
Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.
QAA subject benchmark
Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Andrew Kerr , Course Administrator

    Preliminary year

    The Preliminary Year programme includes modules in biosciences, chemistry, maths and physics. The particular modules studied depend on each student's academic background and the requirements of their chosen degree subject, and will be agreed through discussion with staff at enrolment.

    On successful completion of the preliminary year, you will automatically progress into the first year of your chosen degree programme.

    It is possible to study the preliminary year programme on a part-time basis over two or three years. The science and maths modules are taught in the daytime at Cardiff University.

    Students seeking admission to a degree programme incorporating a preliminary or foundation year should apply via UCAS. All candidates must satisfy the appropriate admissions tutor as to their competence to pursue a degree programme. The preliminary year is not normally a route for students who have failed to achieve the required grades in their A-levels.

    Year one

    Year two

    Year three

    The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

    The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching in the Earth sciences. This educational experience is enhanced by frontier Earth scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, involved in national and international research programmes, teaching alongside its students as they learn. This team ensures students receive the highest quality teaching, delivered by lecturers at the cutting edge of international research. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

    The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree programmes. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry focussed exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water borne marine geography. The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen programme in January of your first year. Thus there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree programme or pathway.

    Teaching methods 

    Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods:

    • formal lectures
    • laboratory practicals
    • IT practicals
    • fieldwork – both on land and for the Marine Geography students on the sea in the School's own research vessel too

    Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and "learning how to learn". Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips. All students are assigned a tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in year one and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advice on both academic and pastoral matters.

    Industrial placement 

    As well as conventional BSc programmes, an optional one year industrial placement is available for some of the BSc degrees. These placements provide an opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries. Students are supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a 'Year Out'. The four year MESci schemes focus on research training and critical analysis making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions.


    Most modules will contain some element of course work so the ability to work independently is crucial. Formal unseen exams and presentations are a key component of the way you are assessed. You will also undertake group work and project work, with all students producing a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choosing in the final year.

    In 2010, 51% of the School of Earth and Ocean Science's graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 20% were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel.

    See the Careers section in our specific degree programme in Earth and Ocean Sciences on Course Finder.

    Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, giving our students hands on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching.  Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.


    4 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    Applications received

    Typical applications received


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    Cardiff welcomes applications from undergraduate Students who wish to study a preliminary year before undertaking one of the full programmes wihtin the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

    If you are interested in studying a programme with a preliminaryyear please contact the relevant department(s) to ascertain which courses / modules you are interested in applying for, for further help in this regard please see departmental modules on our courses website.


    What is expected of me?

    How is this Programme Structured?

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    How will I be taught?

    How will I be assessed?

    How will I be supported?

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    Other information

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Andrew Kerr , Course Administrator

      Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.