Skip to content

Exploration Geology (MSci)

Entry year


This four year degree will enable you to specialise in the exploration and management of our natural resources, as well as learning valuable research skills.

Book an Open Day

View of quarry

Course overview

People have been using Earth’s natural resources for centuries to build our cities, power our homes, and make the vehicles, devices and tools 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), analysis and confident decision making and use modern exploration software. We’ve worked with industry to design our course so you graduate with the specialist skills needed to be a professional exploration geologist.

Our Masters degrees involve a fourth year of study where you work on a research project with a scientist from the School. Your advanced research and problem-solving skills will be invaluable to employers in academia, government and industry. Our degrees are also accredited by the Geological Society, the professional body for geosciences in the UK.

We 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.

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 and 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 in the National Student Survey 2019.

Flexible degree schemes - all of the School’s degrees have a common first semester that introduce 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 opportunity 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 codeF626
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time

Delve deeper into specialist topics such as volcanic and magmatic processes or engineering geology with your fourth year research dissertation.

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 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)

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 Bachelor’s and Master’s 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 Master’s qualification.

In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in exploration geology. 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 that marks the culmination of your studies.

 

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 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 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.

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, scanning the research horizon or numerical modelling.

You can choose to do your Masters dissertation on any topic related to exploration 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.
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. We teach you to think creatively and to reach conclusions from incomplete data which is a skill valued highly in sectors such as insurance, civil engineering and consulting.

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 (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth-ocean-sciences/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusivity).

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 entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • The ability to acquire, integrate and synthesise information to address complex problems in earth sciences
  • Critical 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 and critically assess 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.
  • Rigorous appreciation and application of the scientific process, including the design and testing of hypotheses, and the formulation of new concepts.
  • Formulation, design and use of appropriate laboratory, field, and/or computational methodologies relevant to a research project in exploration geology.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the entire 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 The capability to evaluate and critically assess current research in applied and exploration geology, with commensurate appreciation of uncertainty and debate and limits to understanding.
  • Ability to model and interpret exploration geology data to generate hypotheses that can be tested with additional data or observation
  • The ability to solve complex scientific problems both creatively and independently.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the entire 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 in a dissertation.
  • Ability to model complex numerical exploration geology data and draw realistic conclusions from such modelling
  • An ability to independently plan a complex exploration geology project at the frontier of a research topic.

Transferable/Key Skills:

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

  • Ability to design, implement and manage a project through to completion.
  • 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.
  • Commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in the process of personal development planning and ownership of own learning.
  • Problem solving, reliability, loyalty, social conduct, tact, attitude to learning and research, leadership, resilience, decision-making and reasoning.
  • Effective time management and organisation commensurate with successful delivery of an extended research project.

 

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

Cardiff 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.

Your advanced research skills, innovation and initiative from your Masters will be invaluable to employers in academia, government and industry. Many senior positions in exploration geology 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 for North American Nickel, Karelian Gold Ltd, Mineco, 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.

Jobs

  • Engineering Geologist
  • Geological Consultant
  • Exploration Geologist
  • Field Mapping
  • Mineralogist
  • Mineral Exploration
  • Field Geologist
  • Mining Software Analyst
  • Geophysical Surveying

Placements

You can choose to do a placement dissertation project with an exploration company or a research institution in year three. 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 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.

Within the UK, we have visited North Wales to investigate mineral deposits, southwest England to study sedimentary basins and the tin mining legacy, and Pembrokeshire, where you will learn to draw detailed geological maps using geological and geophysical techniques.

Further afield we usually visit Spain where rock exposure is completely different from the UK, and Cyprus, where you will be able to gain a broader view of the formation and exploitation of ore and hydrocarbon deposits and apply all the essential practical skills needed to become a professional exploration geologist.

All of the travel and accommodation on our field trips is currently already included in your tuition fees. We will only ask you for a small contribution towards food and drink for each trip.

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

Next Undergraduate Open Day

Spring 2020

icon-international

International

icon-contact

Get in touch

icon-pen

How to apply