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Environmental Geoscience (MESci)

Entry year


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

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Course overview

Environmental Geoscience is a degree programme that sits between the subjects of geology and physical geography, having components of each. The programme focusses on the themes of Earth surface processes and materials, geochemistry, pollution and geohazards, evolution and geoecology. It will appeal to anyone interested in the way geology interacts with the natural environment.

The MESci builds upon the equivalent BSc course by means of a fourth year that provides specialist training in hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving, whilst learning about the process and outcomes of research. You will undertake a specialist research project in a subject area of your choice, working with a member of staff in their area of expertise, and undertake research in the field during the MESci field course.  The MESci is designed for highly qualified candidates who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

This is a degree with a strongly applied perspective that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to geological hazards, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

South Wales offers study sites in an outstanding natural landscape with a long (and heavily polluting) industrial history. It includes not only upland geomorphology and coastal environments but also landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence, making Cardiff an excellent place to study Environmental Geoscience.

Fieldwork is an integral part of Earth Science degrees at Cardiff University, 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.

As well as fieldwork in South Wales, this programme currently also has residential trips to Portugal (for geological mapping training and geoecology) and to the volcanic island of Tenerife (to study ‘the whole island concept’ linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation climate and hydrology.

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

Distinctive features

  • A common first term allows you to experience the wider aspects of Earth sciences and geography before finally deciding upon an honours degree programme
  • Overseas residential field courses in year two and three strongly emphasise the acquisition and utilisation of field skills as well as linking with classroom-based knowledge
  • We currently offer two overseas fieldtrips on each programme with travel and accommodation costs covered by your tuition fees
  • A major summer project between years two and three builds on training throughout the programme – as an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent field-based project or an independent placement project with a company
  • A broad subject base (encompassing Geology and aspects of environmental science) which emphasises a diversity of training and provides a wide range of transferable skills applicable to many potential careers
  • In year four you will complete a master's research dissertation, working on a topic of your choice, which provides a range of skills beyond that provided by the BSc, and can widen your career opportunities.

Accreditations

UCAS codeF645
Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.

Entry requirements

ABB, including two sciences (from Chemistry, Physics, Biology,Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Applied Science, Environmental Studies, Archaeology, Computing, ICT, Physical Education (PE), Psychology, and Sports Science) and, where applicable, a pass in the practical element of the science A level. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDD - DDM in Applied Science, Sports and Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science or ICT. 

32 points, including two sciences at HL from Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Applied Science, Environmental Studies, Archaeology, Computing, ICT, Psychology, Physical Education (PE), and Sports Science.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences admissions criteria pages.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You will require GCSE Maths at grade B or grade 6 and GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding 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 (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£20,950None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding 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.

Additional costs

Although fieldwork is free you may have to make a small contribution if food is provided.

Course specific equipment

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

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

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 modules.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

The course structure is very flexible. All of our 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 (double) modules.

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.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Planet EarthEA120110 credits
Earth Surface ProcessesEA120220 credits
Dangerous EarthEA120310 credits
Geographical Information SystemsEA120410 credits
Earth Science Field SkillsEA120520 credits
Earth MaterialsEA120920 credits
Geological Maps and StructuresEA121010 credits
History of LifeEA121110 credits
Chemistry of the EnvironmentEA121210 credits

Year two

In year two the modules you will take provide a wide knowledge base and transferable skills base to make you as employable as possible in a competitive job market. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a portfolio of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

The modules studied in year two range from highly applied modules that will facilitate your understanding of site-specific geo-environmental issues, such as contaminated land, rock engineering and geo-technics to modules that address wider geo-environmental issues. This provides a base for studies on subjects like environmental pollution and sea level rise, or specialism in biological interaction with past and present environments.

In year 2, you will begin planning your major degree project. The School offers a range of potential projects. Students may alternatively devise projects that relate to geoenvironmental issues close to their homes or that have impacted on their lives in the past. Projects may be undertaken with help and advice from local authorities or an environmental agency.

Module titleModule codeCredits
GeophysicsEA220610 credits
Structural GeologyEA220710 credits
Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA220820 credits
Geoscience Data AnalysisEA220910 credits
PalaeoecologyEA221010 credits
Pedology and GeoecologyEA221210 credits
Process GeomorphologyEA221310 credits
BiogeochemistryEA221410 credits
Environmental PollutionEA221510 credits
Environmental Field Skills and Research TutorialEA222420 credits

Year three

In the third year you will complete your project work, presenting it in the form of a professional report.

There are a few ‘core’ modules, but half are optional, allowing you to target your own geoenvironmental interests and aspirations. As with the previous years, the third year consists of a mixture of taught knowledge and skills. However, in this part of your degree, the emphasis is much more on synthesis, tying together the separate strands to give a more complete and holistic understanding of the subject.

The MESci research tutorial module demonstrates how research is initiated, funded and executed

Optional third-year modules may vary from year to year and there are sometimes restrictions in availability due to lack of demand. 

Module titleModule codeCredits
Environmental Case StudiesEA310810 credits
Environmental Geoscience FieldcourseEA310910 credits
Engineering GeologyEA312310 credits
Research SkillsEA323710 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Global GeomorphologyEA310310 credits
Environmental Management, Science and PolicyEA311010 credits
Integrated Coastal ManagementEA311410 credits
Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA311810 credits
PalaeobiologyEA312710 credits
Environmental Geoscience ProjectEA313030 credits
Environmental Geoscience Placement ProjectEA313330 credits
Environmental LawEA313410 credits
Hazards and RiskEA313910 credits
GlaciologyEA314610 credits
PaleoclimateEA314710 credits
Evolving BiosphereEA314810 credits
Isotope GeoscienceEA321410 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA322710 credits

Year four

You will complete a master's research dissertation in any geoscience related topic that can be supervised in the School. You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor and may interact with a research group.

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

In addition the Research Project module, you will take the year four field course, where you design and carry out a field study, learn how computer modelling can be used in Earth sciences, and participate in a student-led module on either the science and impacts of climate change or on the evolution of planet Earth.

Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci FieldcourseEA420220 credits
Numerical Modelling in Earth and Ocean SciencesEA420310 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci Research ProjectEA420170 credits
Building Planet EarthEA420420 credits
Climate Change: from science to policyEA420520 credits
MESci Geological Mapping Research ProjectEA420670 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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of 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 and classroom teaching.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree courses. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from traditional geology 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 programmes and you then confirm your chosen course in January of your first year. Thus, there is a 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 the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and ‘learning how to learn’.

Fieldwork is an integral part of Earth Science degrees at Cardiff University, giving our students hands-on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork portfolio has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching.

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 lectures away from the constrains of the classroom and see some of our local field areas.

As an Environmental Geoscience student you will take part in induction activities with all our new first-years but will also go as a cohort to see first-hand some of the environmental issues and meet students on your course.

Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential field trip (currently to Pembrokeshire), learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and environmental analysis.

Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in year two. Environmental Geoscience students currently go on a residential trip to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology as well as undertaking an extensive fieldwork programme of day trips around South Wales focusing on geomorphology, geoecology, water and the impact of past industrialisation.

Between year two and year three all students undertake a five-week individual project, training for which has been undertaken throughout the year. As an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent field-based project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will have supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also have a visit 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 may undertake field day trips to local areas and we currently also  take a residential trip to Tenerife to study the ‘whole island concept’ linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation climate and hydrology.

Year 4 is when you are undertaking a major project and well as student led modules to an advanced level

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

40%

Guided independent study

60%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

40%

Guided independent study

60%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

null%

Guided independent study

null%

Placements

null%

Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

13%

Guided independent study

87%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

All students are assigned a personal tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in year one and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be knowledgeable about 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.

Where facilities exist your lectures will be videoed for you to further study in your own time.

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.

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • practical assignments
  • essay assignments
  • fieldwork
  • oral presentations
  • dissertation
  • formal examinations
  • You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments, oral feedback for assessed presentations. 

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

59%

Practical exams

19%

Coursework

22%

Year 2

Written exams

43%

Practical exams

17%

Coursework

41%

Year 3

Written exams

null%

Practical exams

null%

Coursework

null%

Year 4

Written exams

12%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

80%

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • A rigorous understanding of the scientific process, including the design and testing of hypotheses, and the formulation of new concepts
  • A comprehensive understanding of the laboratory, field, and/or computational methodologies relevant to the geosciences
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the field of geoscience and an appreciation of its wider context within Earth system science
  • Systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of Environmental Geoscience and the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • The ability to critically analyse the scientific literature, and synthesise current knowledge and understanding of geoscience topics
  • The ability to design appropriate methodology to tackle a research question
  • The ability to critically analyse and interpret data, and to use the data to support the development of new concepts
  • The ability to solve complex scientific problems both creatively and independently
  • The ability to use knowledge and scientific, evidence-based methods in data assessment and problem solving

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • The ability to independently plan complex projects
  • The ability to rigorously and effectively communicate scientific results in both oral and written formats
  • Practical field skills covering a range of environments and circumstances and be able to place these in a spatial and temporal context
  • Practical skills in information technology, geographical information systems, fieldwork, data and project management

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Collection, evaluation, synthesis and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data
  • The ability to work effectively in a team and as an individual
  • Effective time management and organisational skills
  • Independent learning and research skills through your major research project and other modules
  • A commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in the process of personal development planning and ownership of your own learning
  • Personal and professional attributes consistent with a research career in academia, industry or government

Careers

Career prospects

Based on responses from the 2016-17 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 90% of Earth science 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 plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Career destinations included the water industry, local authority waste management, environmental adviser in the construction industry, software analyst in surveying, environmental consultant and pollution monitoring.

Jobs

  • Waste Management
  • Environmental Advisor
  • Software Analyst
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Pollution Monitoring
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