Exploration and Resource Geology (MESci)

The four year MESci course at Cardiff involves hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving whilst learning about the process and outcomes of research.

Exploration Geology fieldwork in Dolaucothi Gold Mine

The MESci builds upon the equivalent BSc programme by means of a fourth year which enables you to undertake a specialist research project in the area of your choice. It is designed for high-quality candidates who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

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

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

The course 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.

For students interested in professional research careers in Exploration and Resources Geology, the four-year MESci provides a strong basis for investigation and research in this subject.

Distinctive features

You will be studying in a School which has a strong research focus with sophisticated analytical equipment routinely used on site and the involvement of research-active staff in course design and delivery.

There are a variety of modules on offer in areas of academic research, applied studies including placement opportunities.

We have a common first term allowing you to experience aspects of Earth Sciences and Geography before finally deciding upon an honours degree course.

The generic nature of the course, provides professional skills appropriate for a range of career pathways or advanced training options and the School has links with local consultancy companies and exploration companies worldwide.

We have a thriving Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) chapter that links us to this international society and allows us to attract specialist visiting lecturers and arrange field visits to working quarries and mines such as Navan in Ireland.

In year four you will complete a master’s research dissertation which can widen your career opportunities.

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 CodeF623
Next intakeSeptember 2016
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
AccreditationsGeological Society
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.
Typical A level offerAAB. At least two A-levels should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level, excluding the required Science/Geology/Geography A-level(s). At least two A-levels should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer30-32 points, including at least two Sciences at Higher Level.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

This is a full-time four-year programme which follows the BSc route with the equivalent title for the first three years, but with additional small-group teaching on the methodology and philosophy of research. In year four you will undertake a major research project as well as taking specialised optional modules. 

Year one

The programme structure is very flexible. All of our Earth and Ocean Science degree programmes 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; Earth Science Fieldwork; 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 and Dangerous Earth.

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

Module titleModule codeCredits
Earth MaterialsEA111210 credits
Research Tutorial with Earth Science SkillsEA112410 credits
Dangerous EarthEA110310 credits
Natural Resources and EnergyEA110610 credits
Life Through TimeEA110810 credits
Geological Maps, Sections and StructuresEA111010 credits
MESci Earth Science FieldworkEA112520 credits
Earth and Planetary System ScienceEA110120 credits
Formation of the British IslesEA110710 credits
The Sedimentary SystemEA110210 credits

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 the 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
Structural GeologyEA210810 credits
Igneous GeologyEA212510 credits
Applied GISEA213010 credits
Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and StratigraphyEA213520 credits
Data Acquisition and AnalysisEA210110 credits
Metamorphic GeologyEA212410 credits
Geophysical ExplorationEA210710 credits
Plate TectonicsEA210910 credits
Exploration and Resource Geology Field skills and Research TutorialEA211920 credits
Geological ResourcesEA211110 credits

Year three

  • In your third year, you will write up a research report on your placement or mapping project, in addition to completing a specific MESci research activity. 
  • You will learn how research is formulated, funded and executed.
  • You will meet visiting guest lecturers and learn to design a professional exploration project.
  • You will also follow core modules in both mineral and hydrocarbon resources and go on an overseas field course.

Optional modules will vary from year to year and there are sometimes restrictions in availability due to lack of demand, oversubscription, timetable clashes or the need for you to have taken certain other modules first.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Research SkillsEA314010 credits
Petroleum Geology and Basin AnalysisEA311920 credits
Exploration and Resource Geology FieldcourseEA311110 credits
Ores and Ore GenesisEA312420 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Exploration and Resource Geology ProjectEA311230 credits
Exploration Placement ProjectEA311330 credits
Volcanic and Magmatic ProcessesEA310110 credits
Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA311810 credits
Structural TechniquesEA313110 credits
Environmental LawEA313410 credits
Engineering GeologyEA312310 credits
Hazards and RiskEA313910 credits
Applied MineralogyEA314410 credits

Year four

You will complete a master’s research dissertation in any Exploration and Resource Geology related topic that can be supervised in the School. You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor and probably interact with a research group.

Since the School is very large and of international research standard, this means you have a wide choice of dissertation topic. Many students develop their own topics and contact a researcher to see if they can supervise it. Alternatively a list of projects is published each year for you to choose from.

In addition to a year four field course and the Research Project module you have a choice of optional modules.

In consultation with staff, you may seek to publish the principal results of your research project in the scientific literature.

Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci FieldcourseEA410510 credits
MESci Research ProjectEA412070 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Contaminated LandEA410310 credits
Evolution of AntarcticaEA410710 credits
Process Geomorphology - from Source to SinkEA411010 credits
Advanced MetallogenesisEA411810 credits
GeodynamicsEA411910 credits
IPCC: The Physical Science BasisEA412310 credits
Advanced Igneous PetrogenesisEA410810 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, environmental geography 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. This offers you a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree or pathway.

Core and advanced knowledge and understanding are acquired via a diverse range of teaching and learning styles including lectures, practicals, seminars, fieldwork, laboratory projects, guided study and small group tutorials with a research scientist.

For the first three years the taught content parallels the relevant BSc degree with, in addition, specialist research training including:

  • in year one a literature review and analysis
  • in year two a research poster
  • in year three an understanding of how research questions are formulated, funded and executed.
  • in year four an extended research project.

The fieldwork programme spans all four years and includes both residential and day trips in the UK and abroad.

Year two posters and year four oral presentations of research come together for the annual MESci Research Conference which is open to all staff and students.

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, 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
  • Exploration Geologist
  • Field Mapping
  • Mineralogist
  • Mineral Exploration
  • Field Geologist
  • Mining Software Analyst
  • Geophysical Surveying

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2016/17)

EU students entering in 2016/17 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2017/18 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£9,000None

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our Funding and fees section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2016/17)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£18,250None

Tuition fees for international students are fixed for the majority of three year undergraduate courses. This means the price you pay in year one will be the same in years two and three. Some courses are exempt, including four and five year programmes. Please check with us for full clarification.

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 fieldtrip, 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 all students 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 third 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.

In your fourth year your residential field trip takes place in an area in the UK or abroad selected by the student cohort. In recent years the MESci field trip has taken place in the northern Pennines, Malta, Ibiza, Sicily, Naples and Southern Spain. Students design and carry out field-based projects to explore their individual research interests with academic staff on hand to direct and help out.


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.