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Environmental Geoscience (MSci)

Entry year


Environmental geoscientists use their understanding of the planet and its processes to predict hazards like floods and earthquakes, clean up dangerous waste, and help civil engineers plan the construction of new roads, tunnels or buildings.

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Coastline with cliffs

Course overview

Do you have a curious mind? Are you fascinated by how the Earth works? An environmental geoscientist uses their understanding of the planet and its processes to predict hazards like floods and earthquakes, clean up dangerous waste, and help civil engineers plan the construction of new roads, tunnels or buildings. 

On our Environmental Geoscience course, you will explore different processes that happen on our planet like acid rain and global warming and find solutions to geological problems in the UK and around the world. Our Masters degrees involve a fourth year of study where you work on a research project with a leading scientist from the School and their research staff. You will develop advanced skills in mapping, research, analysis and problem-solving, which will be invaluable to employers in academia, government and industry. 

South Wales has a rich geological history and is ideal for teaching how geology impacts on landscapes and industry. We take regular field trips to natural beauty spots and old industrial and mining sites. There will be opportunities to do overseas trips, in the past we’ve been to Tenerife and Cyprus.

We’ve worked with industry to design our degree so you graduate with the specialist skills needed to be a professional environmental geoscientist. 

You don’t need to have studied Geology as we’ll be starting year one with the basic principles to bring everyone to the same level.

Distinctive features

Professional accreditation - our Environmental Geoscience degree is accredited by the Geological Society, the professional body for geosciences in the UK. This accreditation keeps us connected to industry and allows our graduates to become chartered Geologists.

Student satisfaction - belong to a small and friendly community voted close to the top among all Russell Group Universities in the main category of Overall Satisfaction (NSS, 2018).

Flexible degree schemes - all of the School’s degrees have a common first semester that introduces you to geosciences and geography. You can then decide whether to stay with your chosen degree or switch to another in the same School.

Hands-on fieldwork - you will get plenty of opportunities to develop your fieldwork skills with regular day trips and residential trips in Wales and overseas. South Wales has a long (and heavily polluting) industrial history and there are lots of outstanding natural landscapes for us to explore.

World leading experts and facilities – you will be taught by world-leading scientists and have access to equipment and laboratories for analysis and testing of environmental samples. These will be used in your independent dissertation project in year three.

Access to the British Geological Survey and National Museum of Wales - our school is in the same building as the Welsh office of the British Geological Survey and next door to the National Museum of Wales, providing easy access to the exhibition galleries and collections to enhance our teaching. British Geological Survey Wales has a strong environmental focus and helps provide ideas for student projects along with advice on professional skills and careers.

UCAS codeF649
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time

We’ve worked with industry to design our degree so you graduate with the specialist skills needed to be a professional environmental geoscientist.

Entry requirements

Grades ABB - BBB, including one science or grades BBB-BBC with two science subjects. Science subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science. 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.

DDM - DMM in one of the following subjects: Applied Science, Sports and Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science or ICT.

34-32 points or 665 in Higher Level subjects, including one science at Higher Level. Alternatively 32-30 or 655 in Higher Level subjects with two science subjects. Science subjects include 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.

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.

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. Typical Welsh Baccalaureate Offer: 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.   Alternative qualifications may be accepted. You will require GCSE Maths at grade B or grade 6 and GCSE English Langauge at grade C or grade 4 or an accepted English Language equivalent www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/international/english-language-requirements/undergraduate.   English Language Requirements for non-UK applicants Typical IELTS offer: Applicants, whose first language is not English or Welsh, are required to have obtained a score of at least 6.5 in the British Council IELTS Exam or equivalent with at least 5.5 in each component, i.e., speaking, reading, writing and listening.

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

The fieldwork costs for your core modules are included but you will need to contribute towards food if it is provided during the trip. You will need to pay for any optional fieldwork modules. The cost of these trips will be capped at an amount determined by the school. Students facing financial hardship may be eligible to apply to the Cardiff Financial Assistance Programme for help with these costs.

Course specific equipment

You will need suitable clothing including warm weather, wind and storm-proof jackets and walking boots. The school will provide all health and safety equipment as well as specialised field equipment.

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 four-year full-time course and you study for your Bachelors and Masters degree at the same time. The first three years are structured in the same way as the BSc course and then in year four you will complete your Masters qualification.

In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in environmental geoscience. In years three and four there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to study the areas that you’re interested in. Year four is focussed on a major independent research dissertation.

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

In your first year, you will study core modules designed to give you a strong foundation in Earth sciences and geology.  We start with the basic principles and cover topics like Earth’s surface plates and internal structure, the minerals that make our planet and the evolution of life through billions of years of geological time. You will develop essential skills like mapping and surveying, microscopy and representing data in geographical information systems (GIS).


We will go on local field trips across South Wales and a week-long residential field trip to Pembrokeshire in West Wales to build on your learning from lectures and practical classes

All of the degrees in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences study the same first semester. After semester one you can decide whether you want to continue with your original choice or switch to one of the other degrees (such as Geology or Exploration Geology).

You earn 120 credits for the year with each core module worth 20 credits.

Year two

In your second year, you will build on the knowledge from year one and start exploring more advanced concepts like geomorphology and hydrology, sedimentary processes, and the structures resulting from earthquakes and mountain building. You will gain skills and experience in sampling, data collection and analysis ready for your dissertation in year three.

We will go on residential field trips to Central and West Wales and Dorset. We’ll also go on day trips across South Wales to explore old mining centres and sites associated with geohazards such as landslides or metal contamination.

In the summer between year two and three, you will do a five-week independent project to prepare for your dissertation in year three. This will be focussed on an applied environmental problem such as the assessment of contaminated land or an analysis of stream or groundwater to find out whether it presents a hazard to human health. In the past students have carried out projects at sites in the UK, Ireland, France and Spain.

Year three

In your third year, you will have more freedom to shape your degree and choose modules that fit with your career ambitions. You will also develop essential professional skills and knowledge that all employers are looking for.  

You earn 120 credits for the year. The core modules include your 40-credit dissertation and the 20 credit modules in Advanced Environmental Geology and Hazards, Risk and Resilience. For your optional modules, you can choose advanced geoscience or advanced geography fieldwork plus a range of specialist subjects like petroleum geology, past climates, or geodynamics.

Year four

Year four is when you study for your Masters. Your core modules include your dissertation (60 credits) and a fieldwork module. For your optional modules, you can choose from topics like business and consultancy and advanced geoscience modelling.

You can choose to do your Masters dissertation on any topic related to environmental geoscience that we can supervise in the School. You can either choose from a list of potential projects circulated by the School or you can work with a supervisor to design a project in an area you’re particularly interested in.

You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor throughout the year and possibly with a wider group of research students. Some of our best Masters research projects have been published in the scientific literature.

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?

We are a friendly and informal school and you will be supported and taught by world-leading experts involved in cutting-edge international research.

Our teaching approach is a mix of theory and practical and includes: lectures, laboratory work, fieldwork, tutorials, workshops and seminars. You will also be encouraged to learn independently throughout the course. We encourage you to think logically and apply this to environmental problems. The skills you will gain are in demand in sectors like civil and environmental engineering, insurance, water supply and consulting.

How will I be assessed?

We will be assessing your level of knowledge and understanding in each module through a combination of assignments, presentations, fieldwork, examinations and a dissertation. You will receive written and oral feedback on your coursework and there are opportunities for informal feedback throughout the course.

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we endeavour to offer reasonable alternative assessment methods wherever possible.   We have an Alternative Fieldwork Policy which is adopted in cases where a student cannot attend a scheduled, taught field course, or part(s) thereof, because of extenuating circumstances. 

What skills will I practise and develop?

Supervision

At the start of the course you will be allocated a personal tutor who you will meet with regularly for tutorials. Tutorials are fortnightly in the first year and then monthly in year two and three. Your personal tutor will be a specialist in your chosen degree course and can offer advice on academic and personal matters. In year four you will also be allocated a supervisor for your dissertation project.

Facilities

We have a Learning Central website where you can access videos, images, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, links to further reading, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Where possible, lectures will be recorded so you can watch and study in your own time.

The Learning Central website also has a ‘Personal Development Planning’ module that supports you in regularly assessing your progress and meeting your development needs.

Support services

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

Diversity

We aim to create an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment that respects the dignity of staff and students of all ages, ethnicities, disabilities, family structures, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, races, religious or other beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. Read about our commitment to the Athena SWAN principles and our Bronze status (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth-ocean-sciences/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusivity).

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

Careers

Career prospects

With the planet facing increasing environmental threats and challenges, the knowledge and skills of an environmental geoscientist are in demand. Environmental geoscientists will play an important role in developing sustainable infrastructure, green energy projects and helping to manage and remove pollution left by former industries like mining and chemicals manufacturing.

You can choose to work in a variety of different industries and roles including conservation and environmental management, as an engineering geologist, a water engineer or an environmental consultant. You will also have essential employable skills that sectors like insurance, finance, education and planning are looking for.

Your advanced research skills, innovation and initiative from your Masters will be invaluable to employers in academia, government and industry. Many senior positions in environmental geoscience-related careers ask for a minimum of a Masters level qualification and it is often the entry-level qualification for PhD research programmes.

Some of our past students have gone on to work at the Environment Agency, BAM Construction, Atkins, Welsh Water, LCM Environmental Services, and Mott MacDonald.

In 2016-17, 92% of the School's graduates who were available for work said they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

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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