Geology (BSc)

The evolution of the Earth and the life it supports is a key subject of human enquiry.

Geologists and Earth scientists are much sought after in many professions because of their global view of natural processes.
Our BSc in Geology provides you with a broad view of the physical, geochemical and biological processes that formed planet Earth, its oceans, atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. You will learn how to observe this history within rock outcrops and interpret the processes controlling Earth's structure and environments.

A key component of this course is fieldwork. You will travel to a number of classic localities both in the UK and abroad. On these excursions you will learn how to record observations, to analyse and interpret a wide range of rocks and structures in the field, and be trained in making a geological map. Our field courses are specifically designed to focus on key themes, such as the origins of oceanic crust, the development of sedimentary basins and their oil and gas potential, and the growth and collapse of mountain belts. In year one the main location visited is Pembrokeshire while in year two you will visit southwest England and northern Spain. In year three you visit Cyprus where all that you have learnt previously can be synthesised into a picture that truly shows the nature of our dynamic earth.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF600
Duration3 Year(s)
AccreditationsGeological Society
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. At least one A-level 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 one A-level should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer30-32 points, including at least one Science at Higher Level
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.
Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.
QAA subject benchmark

Earth sciences, environmental sciences and environmental studies 

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Andrew Kerr , Course Administrator

    In this broad-based, accredited degree you will learn how to read the rocks, assess the processes involved in their formation, be able to reconstruct past environments and interpret how life evolved.

    A key component of this course is fieldwork. You will travel to a number of classic localities: current field excursions run to areas both in the UK and abroad (Spain and Cyprus). On these excursions you will learn how to record observations, to analyse and interpret a wide range of rocks and structures in the field, and be trained in making a geological map. Our field courses are specifically designed to focus on key themes, such as the origins of oceanic crust, the development of sedimentary basins and their oil and gas potential, and the growth and collapse of mountain belts.

    Year one

    The course structure is very flexible. All Cardiff's School of 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. At the end of your first Semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's Earth Science degrees.

    You will study the following modules:

    Year two

    You take a suite of modules which is aimed at providing the basic tools for understanding geology and for fieldwork.

    Extensive field training during this year 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 geologists. In your summer between years two and three you will undertake a five-week independent mapping project in the UK or overseas. 

    You will study the following modules:

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Applied GISEA213010 credits
    Structural GeologyEA210810 credits
    Metamorphic GeologyEA212410 credits
    Plate TectonicsEA210910 credits
    Geological Fieldwork and Mapping TrainingEA210220 credits
    PalaeoecologyEA210610 credits
    Geological ResourcesEA211110 credits
    Geophysical ExplorationEA210710 credits
    Igneous GeologyEA212510 credits
    Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and StratigraphyEA213520 credits

    Year three

    In your third year, you will write up a dissertation on your mapping project. You will also follow core modules in Dynamic Earth, plus an overseas field course to Cyprus.

    You can also choose specialist final-year modules from the following:

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Dynamic EarthEA313510 credits
    Geological Mapping ProjectEA310430 credits
    Geology FieldcourseEA312810 credits

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Volcanic and Magmatic ProcessesEA310110 credits
    Global GeomorphologyEA310310 credits
    Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
    Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA311810 credits
    Petroleum Geology and Basin AnalysisEA311920 credits
    PalaeobiologyEA312710 credits
    Structural TechniquesEA313110 credits
    Engineering GeologyEA312310 credits
    Hazards and RiskEA313910 credits
    Marine MicrofossilsEA310210 credits
    Earth Science ProjectEA313810 credits
    Applied MineralogyEA314410 credits
    GlaciologyEA314610 credits
    PaleoclimateEA314710 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.

    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 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 advise on both academic and pastoral matters.

    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 2012, 86% of the School's graduates were in employment within six months of graduation, or were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel.

    Employers included: local government plus companies and organisations such as the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency, Digirock, Hummingbird Resources and BHP Billiton.

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

    Careers case studies

    Adam Hughes – BSc Geology 2009
    Working for AngloAmerican in the coalfields of North Queensland. Job involves visiting remote sites in the Australian outback to log, sample and test strata from deep underground to help project subsurface 3D models of potential coal reserves.

    Adam says: "The classes and learning environment in the School are second to none and there was always help from any number of great minds, no matter what the problem. Studying at Cardiff Uni was the best decision I have ever made and has taken me to places I'd always dreamed of going!"


    • Engineering Geologist
    • Exploration Geologist
    • Reservoir Geologist
    • Survey Geologist
    • Mineralogist
    • Mineral Exploration
    • Geological Consultant
    • Field Mapping
    • Oil Geologist
    • Mining Software Analyst

    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.

    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 programme in informal surroundings, meet some of your lecturers away from the constraints of the classroom and see some of our local field areas.

    Years one and two 

    Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential fieldtrip to Pembrokeshire, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and structural analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in year two, as a Geology student you will go on residential trips to Dorset, Penzance and Spain as well as undertake various local day field trips. We will train you how to accurately make and record field observations, take field measurements and produce professional reports. All skills highly sought after by employers.

    Individual project 

    Between year two and year three all students undertake a five week individual project. As a Geologist you will do a mapping project (working in a pair in various national and international locations – current mapping areas include Spain, France, Scotland, North Wales, The Pennines). Every student will get supervision from a member of staff and currently all students get a visit in the field.

    Final year 

    In your final year the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focussing 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 Cyprus where amongst other things you will be interpreting ophiolites and tectonics in this iconic area.


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    The School admits 150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, usually between 40-45 Geology programme.

    Applications received

    Typical applications received



    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    Earth sciences, environmental sciences and environmental studies 

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    The BSc Geology degree aims to develop scientific, intellectual and practical skills across the spectrum of earth sciences. It embeds the importance of geological processes and products through time with an understanding of earth surface processes and landscape development, and with an awareness of the economic and environmental needs of society. Classroom and lab-based teaching are backed up by practical training and experience in fieldwork. Graduates will have a broad geological knowledge and a variety of transferable skills suitable for all major sectors of employment or for further study and research.

    What is expected of me?

    Students should attend lectures and are expected to attend all timetabled laboratory sessions, tutorials and fieldwork. Students are expected to engage in independent study alongside the taught module programme within module guidelines.

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

    How is this Programme Structured?

    The is a full time 3 year programme with Years 1 and 2 containing compulsory modules and with some options in Year 3.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    No specific equipment required

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    Students will acquire and develop a range of discipline specific skills and more generic ‘employability skills’.  They will develop technical laboratory and fieldwork skills, and will be presented with opportunities to extend their communication and presentation skills, both oral and written. Specific skills include the ability to collect, analyse and interpret data. They will develop independent learning and research skills through the final year in their major mapping project and other modules.

    How will I be taught?

    Students will attend lectures, carry out extensive practical and laboratory work, fieldwork, and participate in tutorials. Coursework assignments provide student feedback during each year. All of the taught modules within the first two years are compulsory; in the final year students take several core modules and a selection of optional modules. All students will undertake an independent geological mapping project in a major final year core module. 

    How will I be assessed?


    Modules will be assessed through in-course assessments that test knowledge and understanding:

    • Practical assignments
    • Essay assignments
    • Fieldwork
    • Oral presentations
    • Mapping dissertation
    • Examinations


    Students will get written feedback for written coursework assignments, oral feedback for assessed presentations. 

    How will I be supported?

    All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central. on which students will access course materials and links to related materials. All students are allocated a personal tutor through the degree course. Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are made available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module. All students have a nominated supervisor for their major final year mapping projects.

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    Graduates from this programme will be able to: 

    ·         Demonstrate systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of geology and the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences

    ·         Demonstrate knowledge and understanding, subject to a limited degree of student choice, on all aspects of earth system science

    ·         Demonstrate practical geological skills, specifically construct a geological map

    ·         Demonstrate practical skills in information technology and geographical information system applications, fieldwork, data and project management

    ·         Utilise knowledge and scientific, evidence based methods in data assessment and problem solving

    ·         Collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret qualitative and quantitative data in a variety of ways

    ·         Demonstrate independent learning

    ·         Demonstrate self-awareness of individual aims and achievements through academic writing skills and practical techniques

    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.