Earth Sciences - using your degree

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A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.

Earth Science is a subject that integrates all the pure science subjects. This contributes to producing geology graduates with a broad range of skills who are suited to a wide range of careers. Specifically, and uniquely, undergraduate geological training develops students’ ability to integrate very different methods and datasets to solve problems and to deal with the very common occurrence of missing data. Geology and Environmental Geoscience graduates have the ability to adapt quickly to different problem solving situations and are particularly skilled in resolving complex 3D and 4D (time) problems.

There are obviously a wide range of Earth Science career opportunities within the hydrocarbon, mining, and civil engineering industries as well as geological surveys, specialist geological and environmental consultants, and government agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and English Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Agency. Other career options are teaching, working in the natural resource finance and IT sectors, and any career related to working outdoors, such as orienteering and outdoor sports instructor.

In the hydrocarbon, mining and quarrying industries geologists work in exploration, surveying and surface mapping in geologically promising areas of the world, looking for new prospects and working out the size of the reserves. An entry mining or oil and gas geologist will often log and analyse material from drilled cores of rock in order to evaluate how to best recover the resources. Environmental or engineering consultancies typically want entry geologists to work on site surveys of soil, water and the near-surface rocks before building development begins. All industries are susceptible to economic fluctuations and employment opportunities can be variable. At the present time, the price of energy, metals, and the technological and societal need for rare elements has increased the jobs available in the natural resource sector.

Where do our graduates go?


Where are they now?

John is a geology graduate of the University of St Andrews. He is a Senior Petrophysicist for Maersk Oil North Sea (UK) Ltd.

Read his and other geoscience graduates case studies to hear what their jobs involve, how they got there, and how to successfully follow the same career path.

Wintershall AG (BASF Group) Petroleum Geologist
University of St Andrews Paleoclimate Science
University of Liverpool Sedimentary Geology and Sequence Stratigraphy
BP Graduate Geoscientist
Scotland Transerv Graduate Geologist
Environment Agency Senior Planning Officer
Hyder Consulting Ltd Senior Environmental Geologist
University of Edinburgh Facility Manager & Pilot, Airborne GeoSciences NERC Recognised Facility
St Leonards School Durham Head of Geography
Shell Exploration and Production Production Geologist
Microsoft, Dublin Senior Manager
Scottish Borders Council Town/County Planner

Network with alumni

Postgraduate study/research

Postgraduate links

In 2013, 69.2% of earth science graduates went on to do further study. Source: Career Destinations.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.

Summer internships/work experience

Work experience links

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment, with those having experience in the workplace being three times more likely to land a job offer than those without.

62% of graduating St Andrews' students have had internship experience by the time they graduate, the fifth highest percentage in the UK.

High Fliers - The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2013.

Subject-specific opportunities

University of St Andrews research experience
Research experience may be available on University projects - contact Dr Ruth Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences ( for more information.

BP Geoscience Internship Program
Summer placements for penultimate students – closing date is normally the end of January. Several St Andrews students have successfully applied in the past. Website.

Halliburton GOselect Internship Programme
GOselect internship programs offer you the chance to gain the skills and experience you need to become a success in your field and potentially become full-time employees with Halliburton. Website

Wood Group
Will recruit interns from all years and disciplines across a wide range of business areas. website

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
The CEH does not have an official summer internship scheme at the moment, but students may send a speculative CV and covering letter to, if they would like to enquire about possibilities. Website.

Offer internships to masters students, most are durign teh summer but they do host interns throughout the year. website

Offer 8 week internships to penultimate year students. Website.

Neftex, sequence stratigraphic consultant
Sometimes have summer internships. If you are interested, send a CV and covering letter to Website.

This integrated Geoscience company provides geological, geophysical and reservoir capabilities to a broad base of customers primarily from the global oil and gas industry. Offers summer placements to enthusiastic individuals looking to gain valuable industry experience and develop their understanding of the role of a Graduate Geophysicist. Website.

ERC Equipoise
ERC Equipoise is an independent Reservoir Evaluation company, specialising in all areas of upstream analysis. It offers a variety of services from independent reserve audits, to expert witness testimonials, to technical reservoir consulting including geophysical and geological modeling and reservoir simulation. They have offered paid summer internships for the past five years. Website.

Opportunities for placements depend on current business needs. Send CV and covering letter to their recruitment consultant: The Urquhart Partnership, 8 North Silver Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1RL. TOTAL website.

Office based internships which expose you to an operational environment. They take students with two years of study. Website.

The British Geological Survey (BGS)
Recruit earth and environmental students for voluntary work. Accommodation is free and a generous subsistence allowance is given. Website.

Natural Power
This company often offers summer placements in areas such as hydrology and ecology. Website.

Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies. Past roles have included environmental and transport. Several past geography students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role. Website.

RWE npower
Offer summer placements in all areas of the business. The RWE npower Energy Challenge is a team competition (winning team goes dog sledging in the Arctic) which provides another route into placements and graduate programmes – St Andrews teams have won this twice.

Environmental and Renewable Energy Advertises internships and jobs.

Mott MacDonald
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer environmental science summer internships. Website.

Corporate Citizenship
A global corporate social responsibility consultancy which runs three internship programmes throughout the year. Website.

Fulbright Commission
Summer Institute: Environmental Stewardship This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience. Read the case study of a St Andrews student who successfully applied to the programme.

Rolls Royce
Offer summer placements in various functions – Project Management, Supply Chain Planning & Control, Purchasing. Website.

The Geologists Directory
Is a good source of contact details for speculative applications. Website.

RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) RISE offers unique opportunities for Bachelor students to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a period of 2 to 3 months during the summer. Further details.

Work experience examples of earth science students

Year of graduationOrganisation/CompanyPosition
2011 IAESTE Research Assistant
2010 BP Geoscience intern
2008 ACA Howe International Work experience/ Assistant Geologist
2007 Barclays Capital Summer Internship/Graduate Scheme

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Employability profile: what you can offer employers


The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities. It may help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.




Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.

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