Earth Sciences MGeol (Honours) 2024 entry

Employment and PhD opportunities increasingly look for Masters-level qualifications. The MGeol allows you to combine undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters level) study into a single programme, graduating with a Masters degree. The MGeol in Earth Sciences will equip you with the skills and knowledge to investigate Earth as an interconnected system, integrating the study of the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere throughout Earth’s 4.6 billion year history and project potential paths for Earth’s near-future. It will allow you to understand the natural processes which have shaped Earth in deep time through to those that generate environmental change today. Advanced training is provided via hands-on experience with analytical techniques and focused field-based study. The broad and flexible structure of the degree introduces you to topics across the Earth and environmental sciences and provides ample room for the development of specific interests.  

Students interested in taking a shorter BSc degree may wish to explore the Geology BSc or Environmental Earth Sciences BSc instead. 


The MGeol in Earth Sciences from St Andrews is accredited by the Geological Society of London, which provides a faster track to gaining Chartered Geologist status.  

UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2029
Five years full time
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
“Earth science is fascinating and has given me amazing opportunities to travel, to go to northern Norway for fieldwork, and we’ve gone all round Scotland and the Alps on fieldtrips. You study a wide range of topics from space to ocean currents, and from natural disasters to the history of life. You really can’t find a more diverse subject! ”
girl in cap and sunglasses with curly hair
- Angus, Scotland

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    AAAB, including two of the following subjects: Biology (or Human Biology), Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Mathematics and Physics.
    Minimum entry grades:
    AABB, including two of the following subjects: Biology (or Human Biology), Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Mathematics and Physics.
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    AAB, including two of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics and Physics.
    Minimum entry grades:
    ABB, including two of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics and Physics.
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5), including HL6 in two of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics and Physics.
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in two of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics and Physics.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Most students who enrol on this course have not studied Earth sciences at school, and choose Earth sciences based on a love of the environment, the outdoors, and science. If you are interested in the processes that shape the planet and its environment, a degree in Earth sciences is likely the right choice. Preference will be given to candidates with strong science qualifications.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

Gateway programmes

Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades but meet the University's contextual criteria may be interested in the Gateway to Science programme.

Study abroad

Earth and environmental sciences students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MGeol (Hons) in Earth Sciences is a five-year Integrated Masters course, or four-year for direct entry students, course run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The MGeol degree is designed to give you work and research-specific experience, giving you the edge to get into full-time employment or PhD research in an increasingly competitive market.  

During your degree, you will be able to take advantage of hands-on field and laboratory-based research projects that investigate a plethora of issues spanning how planets and Solar Systems form and develop habitable conditions, the formation of sustainable use of natural resources powering green technologies, and how the composition of the oceans and atmosphere have changed through time and influence climate.

In the final year of the MGeol programme, you will have access to the modules associated with the taught MSc programmes in Geochemistry. In addition, MGeol students will complete either an internship with industry or a placement within a research group. Teaching is strongly integrated with our leading research programmes, allowing our degrees to address the most exciting challenges in the Earth and environmental sciences. 

Alongside Earth sciences, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects. Find out more about how academic years are organised.  


All students will obtain fieldwork skills via day and multiple residential field trips associated with individual modules, as well as up to four weeks of fieldwork associated with their independent research projects. 

Examples of the field trips that are part of the MGeol in Earth Sciences include: 

  • five-day “Highland Fling” to renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands during first-year studies 
  • six days of geological mapping in central Spain, examining multiple phases of continental collision and mountain building during second-year studies 
  • six days in Rio Tinto investigating the geochemistry and geobiology of acid mine drainage in southern Spain 
  • twelve days of mapping the iconic Moine Thrust system and Caledonian igneous complexes in the Scottish Highlands during third-year studies 
  • a two-week transect of the Alpine orogenic belt through northern Italy and central Switzerland during fourth-year studies. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in Earth sciences alongside modules in at least one other subject. 

Typically, you will take one to two Earth sciences modules per semester during your first two years, and three to four during your third, fourth and fifth years (known as Honours).

This degree contains some core, compulsory modules which must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in.


Students are required to take at least one of the following modules in their first year: 

  • Understanding Planet Earth: provides a foundation in the study of the Earth, introducing key elements of geological and environmental sciences.
  • Earth's Resource Challenges: introduces the fundamental roles Earth and environmental scientists play in society, addressing issues including natural resources, the hydrological cycle, natural hazards, and solutions to the climate crisis. 
  • *Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Universe: covers diverse topics in biology, geology, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy and international relations which together comprise the field of astrobiology. The course will study the origins and evolution of planets and life on Earth including exploring how science interfaces with society.

* Students who only take Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Universe in first year, are required to take Understanding Planet Earth and Dynamic Earth: The Earth System concurrently in Semester 1 of their second year. 

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year: 

  • Dynamic Earth: The Earth System: focuses on Earth's history, including plate tectonics and its role in the evolution of Earth’s environment and the history of life. 
  • Dynamic Earth: Magma, Minerals and Metamorphism: focuses on the geology and geochemistry of the solid Earth and processes in Earth's interior. 
  • Dynamic Earth: Earth Surface Processes: focuses on the processes that occur in the outer envelopes of the Earth including land-atmosphere interactions, oceanography, biogeochemical cycles and geomicrobiology. 

Direct entry students are also required to take:

  • Practical and Field Skills for Earth Sciences (Direct Entrants): provides basic practical and fieldwork skills that are not taught at secondary school and which characterise University-taught, accredited Earth Science programmes.

Honours modules involve key rigorous theory and skills training and first-hand experience of new research discoveries and advances in Earth sciences. 

Compulsory modules in third year:

  • Advanced Field Skills in Earth and Environmental Sciences  
  • Coding and Modelling in Earth Sciences 
  • Data Analysis in Earth Sciences 
  • Geochemistry 
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis for Earth Scientists 
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • Processes and Products in Sedimentary Systems
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics 

Compulsory modules in fourth year: 

  • Field Mapping Skills
  • Research Review

and one of:

  • Environmental Excursion
  • Field Excursion and Map Interpretation

Optional modules offered in the past include:

  • Communication and Teaching in Science 
  • Core to Crust – High Temperature 
  • Evolution and dynamics of the silicate Earth
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles  
  • Global climate change 
  • Global Resource Challenges  
  • Work placement in Earth Sciences 

During your final year you will be able to take a number of modules at Masters level, providing advanced training in Earth sciences. In previous years, Masters-level topics have included: 

  • Applied Digital Field Methods
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis - High Temperature 
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis - Low Temperature 
  • Isotope Geochemistry: Theory, Techniques, and Applications
  • Pollution and aqueous chemistry
  • Special Topics in Climate Science 
  • Special Topics in Geochemistry
  • The Chemistry of the Solar System. 

You will also undertake an individual research project on an area of Earth sciences which will allow you to pursue a topic of personal interest in depth. You will present your project both orally and in dissertation form. 

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


The School’s teaching philosophy is to provide a thorough understanding of Earth sciences through experiential learning via field and lab-based study, first-hand experience in collecting data, testing hypotheses, undertaking analyses, and student-led investigative research. 

The MGeol in Earth Sciences is taught through a combination of: 

  • lectures 
  • seminars 
  • tutorials 
  • practical classes 
  • fieldwork 
  • research projects. 

Each sub-honours module consists of three to five lectures (140 to 230 students) and one laboratory session per week, several single-day field excursions during each semester, and tutorial sessions (6 to 10 students). 

At Honours level, students attend lectures (20 to 40 students) and continue to develop core skills in Earth sciences through optional modules and their own research project. 

When not attending lectures, tutorials and workshops, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-directed study. Typically, this will involve: 

  • reading relevant literature 
  • working on individual and group projects 
  • undertaking research in the library 
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations 
  • preparing for examinations.

During first and second year, all modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and written examinations, including short questions and essays. 

At Honours level some modules are assessed through coursework (50%) and a final examination (50%), while other modules are based entirely on coursework. 

The final-year dissertation is assessed through a written dissertation, project proposal and presentation.  

The School aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments. 

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge across the Earth and environmental sciences. 

Find contact information for all staff on the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.



England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Additional costs

All fieldwork costs associated with travel and accommodation are covered by the School.  

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Earth Sciences as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

  • UCAS code CFC6: Bachelor of Science (Honours) Biology and Earth Sciences
  • UCAS code FF16: Bachelor of Science (Honours) Chemistry and Earth Sciences
  • UCAS code CFC7: Bachelor of Science (Honours) Earth Sciences and Geography


The School is proactive about developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. Assessment styles imitate real workplace scenarios and many modules in Honours years are supported by visits to and by industry partners, and provide training in industry-standard software packages. As a result, graduates are well prepared for a wide range of career options and graduate employment prospects are consistently among the best in the UK. 

There are multiple career options for Earth and environmental sciences graduates, both specifically in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors, as well as in wider science and policy areas. 

The degrees offered provide advanced training in a wide range of transferable skills, including scientific problem solving, written communication and oral presentation. The high quality of the field training is particularly valued by employers in, for example, the geotechnical sector.  

St Andrews graduates feature amongst all the major Earth science sectors. Recent employers of graduates include: 

  • Accenture 
  • BHP Billiton 
  • BP 
  • British Geological Survey 
  • The Civil Service  
  • Fugro 
  • Gemfields 
  • Geotechnics Ltd. 
  • Hinkley Point C nuclear power station 
  • JBA Consulting 
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co 
  • The Met Office
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Norsk Hydro 
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency 
  • Scottish Natural Heritage. 

Many graduates undertake further study, both at MSc and PhD level. Recent PhD destinations include 

  • Boulder 
  • Caltech 
  • Cambridge 
  • Durham 
  • ETH Zurich 
  • MIT 
  • Oxford 
  • Penn State 
  • Stanford.

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

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

01334 463940
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website

Discover Uni

Discover Uni provides official statistics about higher education courses taken from national surveys and data collected from universities and colleges about all their students. You can use this data to compare information for different degree programmes to help you make a decision about what and where to study.