Exploration and Resource Geology (BSc)

Cardiff is one of the few universities that run undergraduate courses specifically in Exploration and Resource Geology which has evolved from the long mining tradition in South Wales.

Exploration Geology fieldwork in Dolaucothi Gold Mine

Globally there is an ever-increasing need for oil, gas, metals and construction materials in a world where resources are finite. Our BSc degree builds on a solid grounding in geology and focuses on the applied understanding of exploration of the Earth’s natural resources.

The programme provides knowledge of processes that lead to the formation of a natural resource, be it a hydrocarbon or a metalliferous deposit. Between years two and three it also includes either an industrial placement or an applied geological mapping project.

Because they are trained in specialist fieldwork and the IT skills needed by a professional exploration geologist, our graduates are in great demand in the mineral exploration industry.

The fieldwork activities for this course are similar to those for our Geology programme but with an applied aspect. In year one the main location is Pembrokeshire. In year two students currently visit South West England to study sedimentary basins and the tin mining legacy and northern Spain, where rock exposure is completely different from the UK.


In year three you may visit Cyprus or another location, where all that you have learned previously about the formation and exploitation of ore deposits can be synthesised into a picture that truly shows the essential practical skills needed by exploration geologists.

An exploration geologist needs a broad range of skills including an aptitude for fieldwork, good IT skills and the ability to make key decisions from limited information. This applied and vocationally orientated course will prepare you for a potentially exciting professional career as a geologist working in the global hydrocarbon, metalliferous or bulk mineral industries.

NOTE: As well as the conventional BSc programme, an optional one-year industrial placement is available for Exploration and Resource Geology. This option provides an opportunity for you to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries. You’ll be supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a ‘year out’.

There are also four-year MESci and MESci (International) programmes. These focus on research training and critical analysis, making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions. Both feature a master’s research dissertation in year four and the international MESci includes a year studying at a university overseas.

Distinctive features

This BSc degree will provide you with the opportunity to learn in a School which has a strong research focus with sophisticated analytical equipment routinely used on site.

Research active staff are involved in programme design and delivery and there are a variety of modules on offer based on academic research as well as applied studies including placement opportunities.

This programme involves a common first term allowing you to experience aspects of Earth Sciences and Geography before finally deciding upon which honours degree course you wish to pursue.

The generic nature of the course will provide you with professional skills appropriate for a range of career pathways or advanced training options.

You will have an opportunity to engage in extensive fieldwork for which expert supervision will be provided.

The School has links with local consultancy companies and exploration companies worldwide and we have a thriving Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) chapter that links us to this international society and lets us attract specialist visiting lecturers and arrange field visits to working quarries and mines.

I wanted to study geology and travel. The MESci Geology (International) course at Cardiff incorporated these two criteria, with the added bonus of being taught key research skills. I spent my 3rd year in America at the University of Wyoming. Every University department is different so by studying abroad I was taught different aspects of geology by a wide variety of experts, an experience that allowed me to make friends from all over the world, network in a professional field, expand my knowledge and experience different cultures.

Eva Marquis, MESci International Geology 2011

Key facts

UCAS CodeF621
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
AccreditationsGeological Society
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.
Admissions tutor(s)

Entry requirements

For detailed entry requirements see the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences admissions criteria pages.

Typical A level offerABB. At least two A-levels should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerABB. WBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level, excluding the two required Science/Maths/Geology/Geography A-levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer30-32 points, including at least two Sciences at Higher Level.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

This is a three-year full-time degree. Years one and two contain compulsory modules and there are some options in year three.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

The course structure is very flexible. All of our Earth and Ocean Science degree courses share a common first semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in Earth sciences upon which to build. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

You will study the following general topics:  The Sedimentary System; Introduction to Earth Science Fieldwork; Introduction to Earth Science Skills; Life Through Time; Earth Materials; Earth and Planetary System Science; Formation of the British Isles; Natural Resources and Energy; Geological Maps, Sections and Structures; Dangerous Earth.

At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of our Earth Science degrees.

Year two

You take a suite of modules aimed at providing the basic tools for understanding exploration geology and for fieldwork. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

You will study the following general topics: Data Acquisition and Analysis; Applied GIS (Geographic Information System); Structural Geology; Metamorphic Geology; Plate Tectonics; Geophysical Exploration; Geological Resources; Field Skills in Exploration and Resource; Igneous Geology; Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and Stratigraphy.

Extensive field training during this year currently includes residential trips to Dorset, Cornwall and Spain. During these trips you will learn a wide range of practical skills that are an essential training for exploration geologists.

In your summer between years two and three you are encouraged to undertake an industrial placement project with an exploration company in the UK or overseas. Alternatively, you can complete an exploration project or geological mapping topic under our academic supervision.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Data Acquisition and AnalysisEA210110 credits
Field Skills in Exploration and Resource GeologyEA210320 credits
Geophysical ExplorationEA210710 credits
Structural GeologyEA210810 credits
Plate TectonicsEA210910 credits
Geological ResourcesEA211110 credits
Metamorphic GeologyEA212410 credits
Igneous GeologyEA212510 credits
Applied GISEA213010 credits
Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and StratigraphyEA213520 credits

Year three

In your third year, you will write up a research report on your placement or mapping project. You will also follow core modules in both mineral and hydrocarbon resources, plus an overseas field course - students currently visit Cyprus.

You will meet visiting guest lecturers and learn to design a professional exploration project.

You can also choose specialist final-year modules from the following typical examples: Water Resources; Advanced Sedimentology and Stratigraphy; Structural Techniques; Environmental Law; Engineering Geology; Hazards and Risk; Applied Mineralogy; Volcanic and Magmatic Processes.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Exploration and Resource Geology FieldcourseEA311110 credits
Petroleum Geology and Basin AnalysisEA311920 credits
Ores and Ore GenesisEA312420 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Volcanic and Magmatic ProcessesEA310110 credits
Exploration and Resource Geology ProjectEA311230 credits
Exploration Placement ProjectEA311330 credits
Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA311810 credits
Engineering GeologyEA312310 credits
Structural TechniquesEA313110 credits
Environmental LawEA313410 credits
Hazards and RiskEA313910 credits
Applied MineralogyEA314410 credits
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.

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching, delivered by lecturers who are experts in their field. 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 degrees. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry-focused exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water-borne marine geography.

The first semester is common to all degree programmes and you then confirm your chosen course in January of your first year. This gives you the chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree or pathway.

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

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork

Formal lectures and practical classes have an emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme.

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. 

Emphasis will be placed on field safety through careful planning of logistics, risk assessment and awareness of hazards in working environments.

Scientific writing skills are developed progressively through the preparation of essays, guided study reports and the dissertation. The use of information technology is embedded in many modules and extensive computer facilities are provided.

How will I be supported?

All students are assigned a personal tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advise you on both academic and pastoral matters.

You will have a nominated supervisor for your major final year project.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments and oral feedback for assessed presentations. 

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • essay assignments
  • laboratory practicals
  • fieldwork
  • geological reports, technical data representation, geological map interpretation
  • oral presentations
  • dissertation
  • formal examinations.

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’.

These include:

  • technical laboratory and fieldwork skills
  • communication and presentation skills, both oral and written
  • ability to collect, analyse and interpret data
  • independent learning and research skills through your major project and other modules
  • a commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in the process of personal development planning and ownership of your own learning
  • problem solving, reliability, loyalty, social conduct, tact, attitude to learning and research, leadership, resilience, decision-making and reasoning.

Based on responses from the 2013-14 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 96% of our graduates were in employment or engaged in further study within six months of graduation, with others taking time out to travel.

Employers included local government and companies and organisations such as Gemcom Software, SRK Exploration, Kuwait Oil Company and Anglo American.

Typical career destinations for graduates in Exploration Geology include engineering geologist, geological consultant, exploration geologist, field geologist, mineralogist, mineral exploration, geological consultant, field mapping, oil geologist, mining software analyst, geophysical surveying and the water industry.

Jobs

  • Engineering Geologist
  • Geological Consultant
  • Field Mapping
  • Oil Geologist
  • Mining Software Analyst
  • Geophysical Surveying
  • Water Industry

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

Specialist equipment for working in the field and any other equipment appropriate for your degree will be provided by the School.

Fieldwork is an integral part of this degree, providing hands-on experience in real field situations. You will be out in the field with us during the first week of teaching, taking part in a variety of induction events which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your course in informal surroundings, meet some of your lecturers away from the constraints of the classroom and see some of our local field areas.

Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential field trip, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and structural analysis.

In year two students currently go on residential trips to Dorset, Penzance and Spain, as well as undertaking various local day field trips. We will train you how to accurately make and record field observations, take field measurements and produce professional reports.


Between year two and year three you will undertake a five-week individual project. As an Exploration and Resource Geologist you may do an independent placement that allows you to carry out a project in an exploration company to include some form of data collection including geological mapping, core logging, seismic interpretation, or evaluation modelling which can take place anywhere in the world. We have recently had students in Australia, Peru, Senegal, Namibia, Alaska, Greenland, Finland, RSA and China as well as based locally.

Alternatively you may do a mapping project (working in a pair in various national and international locations – current areas include Spain, France, Scotland, North Wales and the Pennines). You will be supervised by a member of staff and currently all students are visited in the field.
In your final year the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focusing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you will undertake field day trips to local areas and also a residential trip to examine mineralisation, usually in North Wales and Cyprus.


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.