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Earth Sciences MGeol (Hons) 2021 entry

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 its 4.6 billion year history. It will allow you to understand the processes that have formed Earth in deep time through to those that generate environmental change today and into the future. Applied training is provided via hands-on experience with analytical techniques and focused field and laboratory-based study.

The MGeol allows you to combine undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters level) study into a single five-year programme, graduating with a Masters degree. The course is designed to focus on your research and workplace experiences, explicitly preparing you for a career in industry or a PhD in a competitive market.

Students interested in taking a standard four-year degree may wish to explore the Environmental Earth Sciences BSc or Geology BSc instead. There are also Joint Honours degrees in Geology and Biology and Geology and Chemistry. 

Accreditation

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. 

How to apply Register your interest

UCAS code

F641

Course type

Master in Earth Science (Integrated Masters degree)

Course duration

Five years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2026

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: AABB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB

    • Standard entry grades: AAB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Environmental Science
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: ABB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Environmental Science
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.
    • Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5), including HL6 in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

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

Direct entry to second year

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

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.

How to apply

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.

General entry requirements

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

Other qualifications

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.

Course information

The MGeol (Hons) in Earth Sciences is a five-year Integrated Masters 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, for example, how Earth’s surface became oxygenated, planetary formation, and how the composition of the oceans and atmosphere have changed through time and influence climate. You will particularly access the modules associated with the taught Masters programmes in Geochemistry and Strategic Earth Resources.

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, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised

As you advance in your degree, you are given more flexibility to choose your focus of study, whether that be in geological mapping, geochemistry, global biogeochemical cycles or climatology.

MGeol students will complete either an internship with industry or a placement within a research group, as well as the option to take part in a self-organised and planned geological expedition during their degree. In both instances, these would be arranged in consultation with the course and module coordinators.

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

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

Students interested in taking a standard four-year degree may wish to explore the Environmental Earth Sciences BSc or Geology BSc instead. 

Fieldwork

All students will obtain fieldwork skills via day and multi-week-long 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
  • five days exploring the varying sources of iron, nitrate and phosphate level in river systems in a UK based location and their impact on pH and invertebrate life
  • six days exploring the varying sources of iron, nitrate and phosphate level in river systems in Yorkshire and their impact on pH and invertebrate life
  • 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.

Find out more about studying earth and environmental sciences at St Andrews.

Modules

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). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

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

  • Understanding Planet Earth: provides a foundation into the study of Earth through a study of key elements of the planet and environmental sciences.
  • Earth's Resource Challenges: builds on the knowledge from Semester 1, including addressing issues related to natural resources and creating a low carbon economy.

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

  • Dynamic Earth: The Earth System: focuses on understanding the behaviour of the solid Earth and its interaction with the atmosphere, biosphere and beyond.
  • 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 low temperature processes that occur in the outer envelopes of the Earth including land-atmosphere interactions, oceanography, biogeochemical cycles and geomicrobiology.

Honours modules involve key skills training and first-hand experience linked to new research discoveries and advances in Earth sciences. Integrated Masters Students complete independent field mapping and a placement in Year 4. Other topics offered in years 3 and 4 in the past include:

  • Advanced Field Skills in recording Earth & Environmental Science data
  • Data visualisation and statistics using R-Studio and Python
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis for Earth Scientists
  • Identifying rocks and minerals using rock thin sections (petrology)
  • Personal and communication skills for industry and research
  • Reconstructing and interpreting geological histories
  • Petroleum Exploration and Geophysics
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics.

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:

  • Advanced/Applied Geochemistry
  • Isotope Geochemistry
  • Advanced Petrogenesis
  • Chemistry of the Solar System
  • Ore Genesis
  • Exploration to Estimation
  • Water in the Environment.

You will also undertake an individual research project on an area of geological 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.

Teaching

Teaching format

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 four to five lectures (80 to 110 students) and one laboratory session per week, several single-day field excursions during each semester, and tutorial sessions (typically between four and six students).

At Honours level, students attend lectures (20 to 30 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-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

You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Earth sciences. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.

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

In addition to your studies in the School, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

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.

Assessment

During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting 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. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.

Undergraduates

Upcoming online visiting days:

  • Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Wednesday 7 October 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020

Fees

Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Scotland Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2021 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

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

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.

Funding for fieldwork

Fieldwork expenses for geology students are subsidised by the Irvine Bequest and contributions from alumni. There are financial awards at every level of study for students who have earned the highest marks in fieldwork.

 

Your future

Careers

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. As a result, graduates are well prepared for industry 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.

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

  • Accenture
  • BHP Billiton
  • BP
  • British Geological Survey
  • Fugro
  • Gemfields
  • Geotechnics Ltd.
  • Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
  • JBA Consulting
  • JP Morgan
  • Norsk Hydro
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Shell.

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

  • Boulder
  • CalTech
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • ETH Zurich
  • MIT
  • Open University
  • Oxford
  • Penn State
  • Stanford
  • Western.

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.

Study abroad

Earth and environmental sciences students may 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.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students in the School may be interested in joining the Geology Society, which organises activities such as lectures and networking events as well as social events and field trips across Britain.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is housed within the Irvine Building, an attractive building close to the sea in the historical heart of the University between St Salvator's Quadrangle and St Salvator's Hall. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, lectures and individual meetings with tutors in this building and in designated lecture theatres elsewhere on campus.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact

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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3940
Email: earthsci@st-andrews.ac.uk

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).