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Environmental Geoscience (MESci)

Entry year


This MESci Environmental Geoscience looks at how geology interacts with the natural environment and develop your ability to research, critically analyse and solve problems to do with geoecology, pollution and geohazards.

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Coastline with cliffs

Course overview

Environmental Geoscience is a degree programme that sits between the subjects of geology and physical geography, having components of each. The programme focuses 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.

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

Experience all aspects of Earth Sciences and Geography in the first term before deciding which degree you wish to pursue.

Two overseas fieldtrips with travel and accommodation paid for by the School, as well as plenty of fieldwork in South Wales and the UK.

Choose from independent fieldwork or an industrial placement for your Year 2 summer project.

Widen your career opportunities by designing and conducting your own research project for your dissertation.

Accreditations

UCAS codeF645
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.

Specialise in tackling geoecology, pollution or geohazards by completing a specialist research project in your fourth year.

Entry requirements

ABB - BBB including one of the following STEM subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science OR BBB - BBC including two of the following STEM subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science. Please note that General Studies are not accepted for entry.  

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.

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

34-32 points or 665 in Higher Level subjects to include one STEM Science subject (Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science) OR 32-30 points or 655 in Higher Level subjects to include two STEM Science subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science).

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

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 Grade B/5 and GCSE English Language Grade C/4. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

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

Course specific equipment

On our fieldtrips we go out in all weathers and sometimes access rough terrain. You will need to bring warm clothing, all-over waterproofs and proper walking boots (with ankle supports and strong, grippy soles). We will provide you with specialist equipment for working in the field, such as high-visibility jackets, hard hats and compasses.

Accommodation

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

Course structure

We are currently working with our students to update and improve the content of this course. The information shown below reflects the current curriculum and is likely to change. The review of the course is expected to be completed by August 2020 and this page will be updated by end of October 2020 to reflect the changes.

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 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

We have designed the first year to be flexible for all students. All subjects share the same first semester. This enables all students to build a strong foundation in all aspects of Earth and ocean sciences on which we build more subject-specific knowledge later on. In total you will earn 120 credits for the whole year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit (double) modules.

At the end of your first semester you can 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

Our year two modules are designed to give you a wide knowledge base and transferable skills 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 in this year 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. We will look at subjects such as environmental pollution and sea level rise, or you could specialise in biological interaction with past and present environments.

In your second year, you will begin planning your major degree project. We offer a range of potential projects, or you could devise your own that relates to geoenvironmental issues. Often local authorities or environmental agencies help and advise students with their  project..

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.

The third year is made up of a number of compulsory and optional modules.This allows you to develop your own geoenvironmental interests and aspirations. Our emphasis in the third year is on bringing together all of your knowledge and tying together the separate strands to give a more complete and holistic understanding of environmental geoscience. We will also teach you about research and how it is initiated, funded and executed.

Please note that our offer of optional third year modules may vary from year to year. We occasionally have to change the offer due to lack of demand or timetabling clashes.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Environmental Geoscience ProjectEA320330 credits
Environmental Geoscience FieldcourseEA320820 credits
Engineering GeologyEA322010 credits
GeohazardsEA322110 credits
Research SkillsEA323710 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Applied Structural GeologyEA321810 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA321910 credits
Environmental LawEA322210 credits
PalaeobiologyEA322410 credits
Evolutionary Geoecology EA322510 credits
Global GeomorphologyEA322610 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA322710 credits
GlaciologyEA322810 credits
PalaeoclimateEA322910 credits
Environmental Management Science and PolicyEA323010 credits
Integrated Coastal ManagementEA323110 credits
Environmental Case Studies EA323210 credits
Principles of HydrogeologyEA324110 credits

Year four

In your fourth year, 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. We have a wide range of topics available for you to choose from, but you can also develop your own topic and contact a researcher to see if they can supervise it. In consultation with staff, you may seek to publish the principal results of your research project in the scientific literature.

During year four, you will also 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 Research ProjectEA420170 credits
MESci FieldcourseEA420220 credits
Numerical Modelling in Earth and Ocean SciencesEA420310 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Building Planet EarthEA420420 credits
Climate Change: from science to policyEA420520 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.
Environmental Geoscience student by waterfall
Environmental Geoscience students are able to gather lots of data in the field, before using in-house software to create reports.

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
Students sampling water for testing
Students analysing water quality in the Corrwg Valley.

Careers

Career prospects

92% of our graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduation according to the latest data, with others taking time out to travel (DLHE 2016/17).

Career destinations for our environmental geoscience students include the water industry, local authority waste management, providing environmental advice in the construction industry, analysing software for surveyors, environmental consulting and pollution monitoring.

Employers included local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Jobs

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

Fieldwork

South Wales is one of the best locations in the UK to study environmental geoscience, having a wealth of local natural and manmade geoenvironmental case studies on our doorstep. These natural locations range from the beautiful Welsh coastline up to the scenic mountains of the Brecon Beacons, including eroding sea cliffs, sand dunes, wetlands, valley slopes and past glacial erosion. With a long industrial history, South Wales also offers study sites that include landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence.

We also travel abroad for residential fieldwork. For example, we currently visit Portugal to conduct geological mapping training and investigate its geoecology. We currently also travel to Tenerife, with its imposing volcano, to tie everything you have learnt together into a “whole island concept”, which links geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

All of the travel and accommodation on our fieldtrips is paid for by the School. We will only ask you for a small contribution towards food and drink for each trip.

Portugal fieldwork location
Portugal is one of the residential fieldtrip destinations we currently offer for Environmental Geoscience students.
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