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Geology (MESci)

Entry year

This four-year geology degree investigates the formation of Earth and its constant evolution with a focus on learning how to conduct research with hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving.

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Geology fieldtrip

Course overview

Geology is the science of our planet the Earth, its oceans, atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. Geology encompasses the study of minerals and rocks that form the solid Earth, the processes that occur on and within the Earth, and the evolution of life that inhabits the Earth. Our Geology degree gives you a broad view of the physical, chemical and biological processes that formed the Earth. You will learn how to observe this history within rock outcrops, and to infer the processes controlling Earth’s structure and environments.

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 students who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

Geologists are much sought after in many professions because of their global view of natural processes, and their ability to interpret and synthesise data. For students interested in professional research careers in geology, 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.

Spend an average of 59 days out on local and residential fieldwork.

Work on a five-week independent mapping project in a location of your choice after your second year.

Widen your career opportunities with a master's research dissertation on a topic of your choice.


UCAS codeF601
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.

Investigate topics such as our evolving biosphere, or marine microfossils during your fourth year research dissertation supported by enthusiastic and knowledgeable academic staff.

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 & 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.


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

Fieldwork costs are covered apart from a contribution towards food if it is provided during the trip.

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.


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

Year one is designed to give you a sound foundation in geology and cover all the basis of the subject. You'll build upon this knowledge later in the course with optional modules and more specialist knowledge depending on your own interests. You will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or switch to another one of our programmes.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Planet EarthEA120110 credits
Earth Surface ProcessesEA120220 credits
Dangerous EarthEA120310 credits
Geographical Information SystemsEA120410 credits
Earth Science Field SkillsEA120520 credits
Georesources and EnergyEA120810 credits
Earth MaterialsEA120920 credits
Geological Maps and StructuresEA121010 credits
History of LifeEA121110 credits

Year two

In year two, you will take a selection of modules that provide the basic tools for understanding the processes that formed the planet. You will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

During extensive field training you will learn a wide range of practical skills that are essential for geologists.

In the summer between years two and three you will undertake a five-week independent mapping project in the UK or overseas.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Formation of the British IslesEA220220 credits
Solid EarthEA220420 credits
Geological ResourcesEA220510 credits
GeophysicsEA220610 credits
Structural GeologyEA220710 credits
Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA220820 credits
PalaeoecologyEA221010 credits
Field Mapping and Research TutorialEA222320 credits

Year three

In your third year, you will write up your mapping project report.

You will take a selection of compulsory and optional modules, which enable you to delve deeper into areas of geology that interest you.

We aim to prove a wide selection of optional modules, but please note that our offer can vary from year to year for various reasons.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Geology Mapping ProjectEA320230 credits
Geology Field CourseEA320620 credits
Dynamic EarthEA321510 credits
Research SkillsEA323710 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Petroleum Geology and Basin AnalysisEA321320 credits
Isotope GeoscienceEA321410 credits
Volcanological processesEA321610 credits
Applied MineralogyEA321710 credits
Applied Structural GeologyEA321810 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA321910 credits
Engineering GeologyEA322010 credits
GeohazardsEA322110 credits
Earth Science ProjectEA322310 credits
PalaeobiologyEA322410 credits
Evolutionary Geoecology EA322510 credits
Global GeomorphologyEA322610 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA322710 credits
GlaciologyEA322810 credits
PalaeoclimateEA322910 credits
Principles of HydrogeologyEA324110 credits

Year four

In your final year, you will complete a master's research dissertation in any geology 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.

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.

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 the evolution of planet Earth.

Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci Research ProjectEA420170 credits
MESci FieldcourseEA420220 credits
Numerical Modelling in Earth and Ocean SciencesEA420310 credits
Building Planet EarthEA420420 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.
Mapping training
Students undertake training in geological mapping on one of our overseas fieldtrips.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has a tradition of excellent teaching, delivered by lecturers at the cutting edge of international research. The School maintains a friendly and informal approach fostered by staff-student interactions in the field.

Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods:

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practical classes
  • fieldwork
  • tutorials
  • Independent study

Formal lectures, practical classes and tutorials emphasise that students should take ownership of their own learning programme and ‘learning how to learn’. Time for independent study reinforces this approach.

Fieldwork is a vital for understanding Geology and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips. 

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




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 a specialist in your degree course 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 recorded and 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.


You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments and oral feedback for assessed presentations

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • practical assignments
  • essay assignments
  • fieldwork
  • oral presentations
  • mapping 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


Practical exams




Year 2

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 3

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 4

Written exams


Practical exams




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 geology
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the field of geology and an appreciation of its wider context within Earth system science
  • Systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of geology 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 geological 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:

  • An ability to independently plan complex projects
  • The ability to rigorously and effectively communicate scientific results in both oral and written formats
  • Practical geological skills, such as constructing a geological map and rock recognition, both in hand specimen and thin sections
  • Practical skills in information technology, geographical information systems, digital geology applications, fieldwork, data and project management

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate the following key transferable skills:

  • 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 studying maps
Lectures and practical work complement extensive fieldwork opportunities on our Geology degree programme.


Career prospects

Geology is a broad subject area, so there are many different career paths open to graduates of this programme. 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).

Employers included local government and companies and organisations such as the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency, Digirock, Hummingbird Resources and BHP Billiton.

Typical career destinations for graduates in Geology include engineering geologist, exploration geologist, reservoir geologist, survey geologist, mineralogist, mineral exploration, geological consultant, field mapping, oil geologist, mining software analyst, geophysical surveying and water industry.


  • Engineering Geologist
  • Exploration Geologist
  • Reservoir Geologist
  • Mineral Exploration
  • Geological Consultant
  • Field Mapping
  • Oil Geologist
  • Mining Software Analyst


Our Geology fieldtrips focus on key themes, such as the origins of oceanic crust, the development of sedimentary basins and their oil and gas potential, and the growth and collapse of mountain belts.

We currently visit classic localities in Pembrokeshire, Arran, southwest England, Cyprus and Spain, where you will learn to record observations, analyse and interpret a wide range of rocks and structures in the field, and be trained in making a geological map. In Cyprus, for example, you will be able to study an uplifted section of oceanic crust and its associated sediments.

Arran fieldwork
The Isle of Arran is Scotland is a popular destination for one of our residential fieldtrips.

Next Undergraduate Open Day

Saturday 26 October




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How to apply