Earth Sciences - using your degree
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.
Katherine completed an 11-week geoscience internship with BP in 2010 which allowed her to develop and improve many skills which are transferable across different industries. Read her profile.
Where Our Graduates Go
|2010||Wintershall AG (BASF Group)||Petroleum Geologist case study||Yes|
|2009||University of St Andrews||Paleoclimate Science||Yes|
|2009||University of Liverpool||Sedimentary Geology and Sequence Stratigraphy||Yes|
|2009||Scotland Transerv||Graduate Geologist||Yes|
|2002 (CAN)||Environment Agency||Senior Planning Officer||Yes|
|2001 (CAN)||Hyder Consulting Ltd||Senior Environmental Geologist||Yes|
|1998||University of Edinburgh||Facility Manager & Pilot, Airborne GeoSciences NERC Recognised Facility case study||Yes|
|1998 (CAN)||St Leonards School Durham||Head of Geography||Yes|
|1996 (CAN)||Shell Exploration and Production||Production Geologist||Yes|
|1993 (CAN)||Microsoft , Dublin||Senior Manager||Yes|
|1976 (CAN)||Scottish Borders Council||Town/County Planner||Yes|
Careers Alumni Network (CAN) indicates these alumni are willing and keen to be contacted to help St Andrews students with their careers search.
Where Our Postgraduates Go
|Year of Graduation||Organisation/Company||Position||Earth Sciences Required|
|2009||University of Copenhagen||Postdoctoral researcher||Yes|
Popular Occupations for Earth Science Undergraduates
A 2010 HESA survey of 2009 graduates indicates that six months after graduation, just over 40% of geology graduates were in UK or overseas employment. Of these, around 20% found jobs in retail, catering, waiting and bar staff, more than 14% work in scientific research analysis and development. Around 10% were employed in the commercial, industrial and public sectors and 10% in other professional roles. A further 9% took up employment in clerical and secretarial positions.
Many geology graduates enter professions directly related to their degree. Popular roles include exploration and production, water supply, environmental engineering and geological surveying.
Postgraduate Study and Research
Over a 1/3 of Earth Science undergraduates continue go onto further study in a variety of courses; MSc Compute Science, MSC Petroleum Geoscience Earth Sciences, Applied Environmental Geology, MSc Hydrogeology, PhD in Geochemistry and Tectonics, PhD Carbonate Oil Reservoirs and MSc Environmental Science Renewable Energy.
- UK Research Councils SCITECH and NERC - they have funded students through the MSc Hydrogeology
- PESGB- if you are thinking of a Masters' degree, or equivalent MRes, in one of the petroleum geosciences you may be eligible for a grant
Summer Internships & Work Experience
It can be very valuable to gain experience of work in various areas, but particularly in those areas that you are considering as a future career.
- The University Careers Centre has information on vacation jobs and internships in the US
- If you'd like to stay in St Andrews over the summer, you might want to apply for the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme.
- Remember to network with students in more senior years, tutors, family and friends they may have suggestions and contacts.
- The Undergraduate Research Internship Programme (URIP) was launched in 2008 by the University of St Andrews. Under the URIP scheme, the University funds 20 undergraduates to carry out research over ten weeks during the summer vacation. The students work on independent projects under the guidance and supervision of a member of academic staff. Look out on the website for application forms which normally have to be returned by the end of April.
- Talent Scotland TalentScotland offer summer internships and graduate placements in a range of areas including IT, market research, marketing, international expansion, human resources and environmental management, all with small Scottish firms.
- Several penultimate year students have been successful in getting a paid summer internship with the Saltire Foundation. These are global experiences in USA, Japan, Cayman Islands and others.
- Summer Research Schools are also funded by organisations such as Nuffield, IAESTE and Carnegie.
- Research experience may be available on University projects - contact Ruth Robinson (rajr@) for more information.
- Examples of organisations which have offered internships to Geoscience students in the past include;
- BP Geoscience Internship Program Read the experiences of Katherine, who interned here in 2010
- Jacobs - providers of professional technical services their markets include - Energy, Environmental Programs, Oil and Gas. Read the the background of a St Andrews graduate who works there.
- Shell - offer 8 week internships to penultimate year students
- Neftex, sequence stratigraphic consultant - sometimes have summer internships if you are interested send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Halliburton - their internship programs typically last for 10-14 weeks during the summer and can include the following positions:Field Technology Engineer Intern, Supply Chain Management Program Intern/Co-op, Technical Engineer Intern/Co-op
- British Antarctic Survey
- The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology- send a CV and covering letter detailing the type of placement you are looking for and the area of science and/or location in which you are interested to Catherine Mansfield, email@example.com and it will be passed to the relevant staff for consideration.
- EDF Energy - run the UK's largest power networks
- North East Process Industry Cluster- includes environmental monitoring and environmental management
- ERC Equipose- ERC Equipoise is an independent Reservoir Evaluation company, specialising in all areas of upstream analysis. We offer 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.
- Speculative Applications - Contact employers who work in an area of interest to you and ask if they can offer you any type of experience - work shadowing, internship, mentoring. The Geologists Directory is a good source of contact details
- Joining a society and/or a professional body, particularly if you take on a role of responsibility, can impress future employers and also enhance employability skills such as - team working, negotiation, event management, controlling budgets, leadership etc. Have a look at the case study from a student who made the most of his time at St Andrews through involvement in societies. At St Andrews you have a wealth of societies to choose from. Here are a few relevant examples:
- Geolsoc - society of staff and students united by their love of granites, graptolites and good times
The table below aims to give some examples of the experiences of Geoscience students.
|2011||IAESTE||Research Assistant case study|
|2010||BP||Geoscience intern case study|
|2008||ACA Howe International||Work experience/ Assistant Geologist -case study|
|2007||Barclays Capital||Summer Internship/Graduate Scheme - case study|
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines
These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.
- British Geological Survey
- Geological Society
- Natural Environment Research Council - funds research centres,British Antarctic Survey,Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and National Oceanography Centre
- Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain
- List of organisations from all over the world
Over the course of your degree you develop a good mix of subject specific and transferable core skills (communication, team work, time management, presentation etc). Consider these alongside your other activities, such as paid work, volunteering, family responsibilities, sport, membership of societies, leadership roles, etc. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your skills and personal attributes. Then you can start to market and sell who you really are, identify what you may be lacking and consider how to improve your profile.
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.
This table is able to help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.
|A graduate in Earth Science:|
|Knowledge of all of Earth’s environments, and the physical explanations behind natural hazards/disasters (e.g. volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami), location of resources (e.g. water, minerals, fuels), and the issues regarding the exploitation and conservation of these natural resources and waste disposal; this knowledge leads to an understanding of the natural environment at small, medium and large spatial scales, irrespective of political boundaries.|
|Ability to think in an integrated and holistic way, with complicated datasets with multiple variables, and to work with and appreciate complexity and change.|
|Capability to think flexibly between different spatial representations (2D – 3D; maps to cross sections) and time-scales (milliseconds to millions of years).|
|By routinely working in teams on laboratory, desk and research, Earth Scientists are versed in project management including planning, execution and evaluation; this involves skills such as time-management, risk-assessment, problem solving and analysis.|
|Earth Scientists generate and work with numerical, textual and graphical data. They therefore have well-developed numeracy, graphical and image processing skills (including mapping) and they are accustomed to manipulating and presenting these various data using a range of ICT formats.|
|The field-based 'real-world' nature of Earth Science research requires earth scientists to be flexible and adaptable – they must have the confidence and initiative to be able to deal with the unexpected.|
|Decision making – often on the basis of limited information.|
Earth Science/Employability Link
Each School has a Careers/Employability Link who "champions" employability. Yours is Dr Ruth Robinson. If you have any information you consider important for your fellow students please let her know. Alternatively you can complete a "profile" which enables you to share your experiences with other students.
- Prospects - Options with Geology - contains useful website links
- Destination Statistics of St Andrews graduates
- Oil & Gas recruitment agency
- Jobs in the Oil Industry
- Earthworks - Jobs and PhD/research opportunities world wide in many different areas
- earth students - a resource for geoscience, geotechnical, environmental and geographical students to look for relevant courses, internship and graduate vacancies.
- Research Gate research jobs