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Exploration Geology (BSc)

Entry year


The only undergraduate degree in the UK to specialise in resource exploration, which has evolved from the long mining tradition in South Wales.

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Mineralisation in a Cyprus quarry

Course overview

People have been using Earth’s natural resources like metals, minerals, oil and gas for centuries to build our towns and cities, power our homes, and to make the vehicles, devices and tools that we depend on. New resources are increasingly hard to find and require specialist skills and technology to locate and exploit responsibly.

On our Exploration Geology course, you will learn how the Earth’s processes have created the planet’s natural resources and how to explore for them to meet future demand. You will develop skills in fieldwork (both above and underground), data analysis and confident decision making and use modern exploration software.

We make the most of our location and take regular field trips to explore mining sites across Wales. There will also be opportunities to do overseas trips, in the past we’ve been to Spain and Cyprus.

We’ve worked with industry to design our course so you graduate with the specialist skills needed to be a professional exploration geologist. Our degrees are also accredited by the Geological Society, the professional body for geosciences in the UK.

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

Distinctive features

History and uniqueness – We have been training mining engineers and geologists for over 100 years. Exploration Geology is the only undergraduate degree in the UK to focus on specialist training in resource exploration. We have strong links to industry through placements and through the Exploration alumni network and its mentoring scheme.

Student satisfaction - Belong to a small and friendly community of staff and students. Exploration Geology received a score of 100% Overall Satisfaction (NSS, 2019).

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 above and below ground with regular day trips and residential trips in Wales and overseas. We have a former gold mine close to Cardiff and many other outstanding natural landscapes for us to explore.

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. We use the exhibition galleries of the National Museum and material from its collections to enhance our teaching. The British Geological Survey Wales also provide ideas for student projects and advice on professional skills and careers.

Society of Economic Geologists Student Chapter – we have a thriving student society that you can join. Our links to this international society mean we often get specialist visiting lecturers and sponsor student-led field visits to mineral deposits and mines across Europe. Recently our students have been to Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Serbia.

UCAS codeF625
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time

Connect with exploration geologists, consultancies and employers across the world through our thriving Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) chapter.

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 subskill.

TOEFL iBT

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

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall 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 Language 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)

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 (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£21,950None

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

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 three-year full-time degree. In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in exploration geology. In year two and three there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to study the areas that you’re interested in.   

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 solid foundation in the science of 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, representing data in geographical information systems (GIS) and microscopy.

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 Environmental Geoscience).

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 sedimentary processes, the origins of igneous and metamorphic rocks and the formation of mineral deposits and hydrocarbon resources. You will gain skills and experience in surface and underground mapping, sampling, data collection and analysis ready for your dissertation in year three.

We will train you to map on residential field trips to Pembrokeshire and North Wales, study source rocks and reservoirs for oil and gas in Dorset and explore for base and precious metals on surface and underground in a historic gold mine.

From year two you can also take part in our Exploration Alumni mentoring scheme. We will partner you up with a recent graduate that’s working in the sector you’re interested in and they can offer practical advice on things like professional skills, career development and which optional modules are the most relevant to your career ambitions.

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 either be an applied mapping project or an industry placement. In recent years exploration students have mapped in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Spain and carried out placement projects with companies exploring in Greenland, Senegal, Canada, Finland, Turkey and Serbia.

You earn 120 credits for the year. This is made up of 40 and 20 credit core modules and a choice of 20 credit optional modules.

Year three

In your final 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 dissertation, Mineral Exploration and Evaluation and Petroleum Geology, Geoenergy and Basin Analysis. You will carry out projects using industry standard exploration software and work individually and as teams to carry out regional exploration for metals and hydrocarbons using historical datasets donated by industry.

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.
Pembrokeshire coast fieldwork
Our Exploration and Resource Geology programme is highly practical and incorporates specialist fieldwork and IT skills necessary to become a professional exploration geologist.

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. 

How will I be supported?

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 exploration and can offer advice on academic and personal matters. In year three 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 

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?

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 students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • The ability to acquire, integrate and synthesise information to address complex problems in earth sciences
  • Knowledge and understanding of the structure of the Earth, its materials, lifeforms and resources and the processes that shape it at present and through geological time.
  • Ability to compile, assess and model information in order to predict where new natural resources may be discovered or how existing resources might be managed.
  • Ability to explain the role and impact of earth science in solving 21st century societal challenges such as the sustainable supply of water, energy and other natural resources to meet the needs of the world’s population.

Intellectual Skills:

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

  • Comprehension and critical evaluation of science-based evidence to assess and formulate solutions to complex multi-component problems in earth sciences.
  • The ability to assemble and critically evaluate information on a variety of scales (from microscopic to planetary) and generate and interpret datasets in 2D, 3D and 4D to formulate realistic conceptual earth models as a tool for resource exploration, extraction and sustainable management.
  • The capability to evaluate current research in applied and exploration geology, with commensurate appreciation of uncertainty and debate and limits to understanding.

Professional Practical Skills:

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

  • Ability to recognise and interpret rocks, minerals and fossils to determine the geological relationships and reconstruct the history of any particular sample/outcrop/region under study.
  • Understanding and application of the methods used to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in 2D and 3D using maps, GIS and proprietary mining and exploration software.
  • Analysis and portrayal of numerical data in earth sciences, including using appropriate software.
  • Problem solving involving integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete exploration data and using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
  • The ability to design, implement and safely carry out a programme of field- or laboratory-based research in an applied setting and report the findings effectively in writing.

Transferable/Key Skills:

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

  • Ability to design, implement and manage a project through an independent dissertation.
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Application of the scientific method, numerical and spatial skills including visualization to the understanding of 3D (and 4D) data sets and their interpolation in space (and time).
  • Ability to communicate information and concepts effectively and clearly through oral, written and visual means to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • An understanding of the benefits of employment networking and continuing professional development.
  • Problem solving, reliability, loyalty, social conduct, tact, attitude to learning and research, leadership, resilience, decision-making and reasoning.

Exploration Geology fieldwork in Dolaucothi Gold Mine
On this programme you will learn about the mining legacy in the UK and how to manage existing natural resources.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our graduates have been leaders in the minerals, metals and energy exploration industries for over 100 years and you can become part of this ongoing story.

With a degree in Exploration Geology you have a range of career options open to you and can apply for roles like an exploration geologist, a hydrogeologist, a mineralogist or an environmental consultant. The practical and business-focussed aspects of the degree will give you essential employable skills that sectors like insurance, finance, education and planning are looking for.

Some of our past students have gone on to work for North American Nickel, Mineco, Karelian Gold Ltd, 6 Alpha Associates, Gemfields Ltd, Terravision Exploration Ltd, Bibby Hydromap and the engineering and mining consultancies SRK, Golder Associates and Royal HaskoningDHV

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.

Many of our students that spent time in industry as part of their dissertation project went on to work for the same organisation after graduation.

Jobs

  • Engineering Geologist
  • Geological Consultant
  • Field Mapping
  • Oil Geologist
  • Mining Software Analyst
  • Geophysical Surveying
  • Water Industry

Placements

You can choose to do a placement dissertation project with an exploration company or a research institution in your final year. In the past students have experienced exploration for nickel, platinum and diamonds in Greenland, exploration for gold in Finland, Ghana and Australia, and exploration for copper and lithium in Peru and Chile. 

Fieldwork

We make the most of our location and take regular field trips to explore mining sites across Wales. There will also be opportunities to do overseas trips, in the past we’ve been to Spain and Cyprus.

Cyprus exploration geology fieldwork
Cyrpus is a favourite location for exploration and resource geology fieldwork.
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