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Geology (MSci)

Entry year


Geologists study the minerals and rocks that form the solid Earth, the processes that occur on and within our planet, and the evolution of life on its surface.

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Geology fieldtrip

Course overview

To find solutions to some of the biggest problems facing our planet today we need to understand the Earth’s history and processes. Geologists use their knowledge of past climates and hazards to understand and address the challenges we face from issues like climate change and natural disasters.

On our Geology course you will explore how rocks and minerals are formed, how animals evolve over geological time, what causes earthquakes and volcanoes and how geology impacts on our lives today. You will develop skills in fieldwork, data capture, analysis and confident decision making.

Our Masters degrees involve a fourth year of study where you work on an exploration research project with an academic from the School. You will develop advanced skills in research and get experience of scientific writing and presentation at a professional level.

We make the most of our location and take regular field trips in South Wales to explore how geology impacts on landscapes and industry. 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 degree so you graduate with the specialist skills needed to be a professional geologist.

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

Professional accreditation - our Geology 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.

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.

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, 2019).

Flexible degree schemes - all of our 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. BSc Geology students also have the most flexibility in years two and three with a range of optional modules to choose from.

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 diverse geological history and there are lots of outstanding natural landscapes for us to explore. A mapping trip to Spain is also included in your course fees.

World-leading experts and facilities – you will be taught by world-leading earth scientists and have access to the latest technologies and training for surveying and mapping geological features.

UCAS codeF604
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time

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

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 make a contribution 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 geology. In year two to four there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to study the areas that you’re most 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, 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 at 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 (e.g. Exploration 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 structures resulting from earthquakes and mountain building.

You can select from optional modules that open pathways to environmental or mineral resource geology, or to the study of landscapes and surface features. During this year 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, Dorset and overseas as well as regular day trips to sites across South Wales.

In the summer between year two and three, you will do a five-week independent mapping project to prepare for your dissertation in year three. You can choose to do this in the UK or overseas. In the past students have chosen to study areas in North Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Northern Spain, Southern France or the French Alps.

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 and Geodynamics. For your optional modules you can choose from a range of specialist modules covering subjects like advanced fieldwork, natural hazards and resilience, environmental and engineering geology, ancient climates, and much more.

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 or environmental modelling.

You can choose to do your Masters dissertation on any topic related to Environmental Geography 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.
Mapping training
Students undertake training in geological mapping on one of our overseas fieldtrips.

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

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.
  • A critical 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 explain and critically evaluate the role and impact of earth science in solving 21st century environmental challenges such as climate change, geohazards and the sustainability of energy, water 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 high level research project.

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.
  • The capability to evaluate and critically assess current research in the earth sciences, with commensurate appreciation of uncertainty and debate and limits to understanding.
  • Ability to model and interpret earth science 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.
  • Advanced application of the methods used to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in 2D and 3D using maps and digital platforms such as GIS.
  • Analysis and portrayal of numerical data in earth sciences, including using appropriate software.
  • Problem solving involving integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete earth science 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 and report the findings effectively in writing in a dissertation.
  • Ability to model complex numerical earth science data and draw realistic conclusions from such modelling.
  • An ability to independently plan a complex 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 through oral, written and visual means to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • A critical 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.
  • ffective time management and organisation commensurate with successful delivery of an extended research project.
Students studying maps
Lectures and practical work complement extensive fieldwork opportunities on our Geology degree programme.

Careers

Career prospects

Geologists play a central role in society today. We need geology to locate sustainable sources of water, energy and minerals, to recognise and mitigate hazards, and to assess land for constructing roads or buildings.

With a geology degree you can choose to work in a variety of different roles including an engineering geologist, a hydrogeologist, a mineralogist, and 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 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 now work for the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency, Digirock, Boliden Mining, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and the engineering and mining consultancy Royal Haskoning DHV.

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

Fieldwork

Geologists play a central role in society today. We need geology to locate sustainable sources of water, energy and minerals, to recognise and mitigate hazards, and to assess land for constructing roads or buildings.

With a geology degree you can choose to work in a variety of different roles including an engineering geologist, a hydrogeologist, a mineralogist, and 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 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 now work for the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency, Digirock, Boliden Mining, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and the engineering and mining consultancy Royal Haskoning DHV.

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.

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