Earth and Environmental Sciences

Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews spans topics from the formation of the planets to current climate change, integrating the natural sciences to understand the world around us. Degrees in this subject equip students with a fundamental understanding of natural processes, ranging from the formation of mountain belts to ocean acidification, and volcanic eruptions to the management of Earth's resources. This allows graduates to address many of the greatest challenges facing science and society, including natural hazards, resource security, and environmental change.

St Andrews is the ideal place to study Earth and Environmental Sciences, as it is surrounded by world-famous geological outcrops and a dynamic natural environment. Taught degree programmes take advantage of the unique location with over 100 days in the field, both locally and across Europe. This extensive field training, combined with the state-of-the-art research and industry experience, allows graduates to enjoy some of the best employment prospects of any degree programme of any university in the UK.


Undergraduate - 2020 entry

Earth Sciences MGeol (Hons)
Environmental Earth Sciences BSc (Hons) 
Geology BSc (Hons) 
FE-HE Pathway to Science Pathway to BSc (Hons)
Gateway to Science Gateway programme

The School also offers a number of other courses for visiting students, industry professionals, and others interested in learning more about the geosciences.

Joint degree options

You can take Geology BSc (Hons) with another subject as part of a joint degree.

International Foundation programmes - 2020 entry

International Foundation programmes prepare international students for undergraduate study in the UK and at the University of St Andrews in particular.

Science September Foundation
Science January Foundation 

Postgraduate - 2020 entry


Geochemistry MSc
Mineral Resources MSc


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews


If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day or talk and tour to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 1 April 2020
  • Wednesday 8 April 2020
  • Wednesday 15 April 2020

Visit us


Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 11 March 2020

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Earth and Environmental Sciences research areas

Research in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences combines fieldwork, laboratory and empirical analyses, and modelling to gain insight into the geological, geochemical and biochemical processes that have shaped our planet and solar system.

Research within the School is grouped into four main themes:

Earth Sciences research centres

There are two research centres related to Earth Sciences:

CES is an interdisciplinary centre that combines expertise from Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Philosophy to study how planets and their atmospheres form in different galactic environments, the relation between the evolutionary history of planets and the potential for life elsewhere, and the significance of the discovery of life elsewhere for our societies.

The St Andrews Isotope Geochemistry group (STAiG) laboratories use high precision measurements of isotope ratios to investigate phenomena across the geosciences. STAiG research is underpinned by a suite of cutting edge facilities, supporting a broad team of researchers interested in identifying, tracing, and timing processes in systems ranging from the solar system as a whole, through planetary differentiation and terrestrial volcanism, to ocean circulation and the biosphere.


Underpinning the School’s research are state-of-the-art analytical facilities supported by full-time technicians. These enable:

  • characterisation of the isotopic and geochemical compositions of rocks, minerals and other natural and synthetic materials
  • culturing of micro and macro organisms
  • geological and geophysical field deployment.

Find out more about research facilities.

Careers for graduates in Earth Sciences

There is a wide variety of career options for Earth and Environmental Science graduates, and the School is proactive about developing opportunities. Graduates go on to work in the natural resources, energy, and environmental and engineering sectors, as well as in academia and the wider science community. Many graduates are successful in gaining fully funded places on MSc and PhD courses at prestigious universities in the UK and overseas.

Earth and Environmental Sciences graduates are recognised internationally as being highly trained, independent thinkers with the appropriate skills required to problem solve in a variety of research or applied areas.

The School has set up a mentor scheme with alumni to help students gain first-hand experience of the world of work. There are annual career events in Edinburgh that students are supported to attend, and the student Geological Society and School student president organise career talks two to three times each semester.

The Careers Centre also offers one-to-one advice to all students and provides a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Recent graduates have found careers in companies and organisations including:

  • Galliford Try (environmental engineers)
  • Atkins (environmental scientists and environmental engineers)
  • British Antarctic Survey (GIS officers)
  • Chevron (exploration geologists)
  • Maersk Oil Ltd (exploration geologists)
  • BHP Billiton (mining geologists)
  • BP (exploration geologist and environmental scientists)
  • Shell (geophysicists)
  • The British Geological Survey (geologists, hydrogeologists)
  • RSA Geotechnics (geological and environmental engineers)
  • MNV Consulting (hydrologists)
  • Fairhurst (engineering geologists)
  • Lafarge Tarmac (geologists)
  • African Mining Corporation (mining geologists)
  • Fugro Geosciences Ltd (geotechnical engineering)
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (hydrologists)
  • Balfour Beatty (environmental engineers).

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to students at every level of study.


There are several funding options for undergraduates.

Undergraduate scholarships

Postgraduate students

The University of St Andrews offers a range of postgraduate funding opportunities.

The Scottish Power Masters Scholarships provide funding for postgraduate study in environmental sciences, climate change, and sustainable energy. 

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is part of the IAPETUS Doctoral Training Centre funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). This collaborative research centre includes the universities of Durham, Glasgow, St Andrews and Stirling, as well as the British Geological Survey. PhD research spans all of the environmental and Earth sciences.

PhD level research is also funded by industry and agencies, or may be tied to specific projects; see the School PhD web pages for more information.

Funding for PhD students


REF 2014

In the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014, the School of Geography and Geosciences was ranked top in Scotland and fifth in the UK for its overall research activity. Since REF 2014, the School of Geography and Geosciences has been divided into the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

University league tables

Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews was ranked second in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2020 and first in Scotland by the Complete University Guide 2020.


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3940 

Earth Sciences website

Earth and Environmental Sciences research portal