Geochemistry (MSc) 2023 entry

Geochemistry is critical to quantifying the mechanisms, rates and sources behind every aspect of the Earth system. The MSc in Geochemistry provides you with specialist knowledge and skills in modern geochemical methods, transferrable to a wide variety of geoscience and environmental science careers, including further PhD research. The course involves hands-on laboratory and field sampling training, and experience with state-of-the-art equipment.  

Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2024
Duration
One year full time
School
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Application deadline

Thursday 10 August 2023

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“I have felt very welcomed in this community – being able to talk to someone is particularly important as an international student. The academic environment is challenging and inspiring with field trips, laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment. Furthermore, I can find inspiration just walking round the historic town and the beaches.”
Ana
- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé 
  • personal statement 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates 

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MSc in Geochemistry is a taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. 

Geochemistry is a fundamental discipline within the Earth Sciences, providing the techniques and knowledge to address such fundamental questions as:  

  • What are the rates and drivers of climate change, both past and present? 
  • How do we assess and remediate environmental degradation? 
  • Was there ever life on Mars? 
  • How do planets form? 

The course is comprehensive and rigorous, comprising compulsory and optional taught modules, field work, short courses, and a research dissertation. Hands-on experience developing a diverse set of laboratory skills is embedded into the course.  

Highlights

  • Teaching and supervision on the MSc span a wide range of expertise in the field of geochemistry, underpinned by state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. 
  • The course introduces you to academic and industry-standard software for robust geochemical modelling and statistical analysis of data. 
  • The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences upholds a collegiate, dynamic and research-intensive atmosphere that encourages, and is supportive of, all students. 
  • The MSc provides preparation for pursuing a PhD through working in an active research group and completing a lab-based dissertation focused on a novel research question. 
  • The MSc prepares you for employment in industry by incorporating applied economic and environmental geochemistry modules and the possibility of industry-sponsored research.  

Modules

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2022-2023 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2023 entry. 

 

  • Advanced Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the Earth system and the cycling of natural materials between fluid and solid phases. 
  • Geochemistry: covers the origin and distribution of the elements, thermodynamics, redox reactions and aqueous geochemistry., 
  • Geochemistry Field Excursion: covers best practice field skills in documenting the geological and environmental controls in a geochemical problem, how to collect samples, and post-trip sample analyses and report writing. 
  • Isotope Geochemistry: Theory, Techniques, and Applications: explores the theory behind, and geochemical applications of, the natural variability measurable in both radiogenic and stable isotope systems. 
  • Physical Chemistry Laboratory: comprises four practical experiments in physical chemistry which provide experience in planning and performing experiments in a laboratory setting, making measurements, and interpreting data.
  • Special Topics in Geochemistry: reviews current 'hot topic' research about how our planet has evolved and some of the major changes in its chemistry, biosphere and climate. 
  • Statistics and Analytical Sciences: provides students with a strong background in statistics and methods of data analysis used in Earth Sciences. 

Students choose up to three optional modules. 

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered. 

  • Advanced Petrogenesis: explores the nature of the acid and basic magmatism that creates the Earth's crust, the petrography and geochemistry of minerals and rocks, and the petrogenesis and evolution of magmas and metamorphic rocks. 
  • Advanced Physical Inorganic Chemistry: focuses on advanced discussion of the properties of selected main group compounds, spectroscopy and magnetism. 
  • Biogeochemistry: examines the role of biogeochemical processes in controlling Earth surface chemistry, and their possible influence on deep Earth reservoirs. It highlights current geochemical and numerical techniques used to constrain these interactions in both modern and ancient (rock record) systems. 
  • Blockbuster Solids: focuses on how material structure influences its electrical, magnetic and thermal properties, with emphasis placed on metal-organic frameworks and how they can be used for the storage and release of gases.  
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis – High Temperature: focuses on the geological processes, geodynamic setting, and mineralogy of the principal metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits related to magmatic and magmatic-hydrothermal processes.
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis - Low Temperature: focuses on the geological processes, geodynamic setting, and mineralogy of the principal metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits related to low-temperature hydrothermal and surficial processes.
  • Energy Conversion and Storage: discusses the technical details and environmental applications of electrochemical technologies for energy storage, such as batteries and fuel cells.
  • Environmental Pollution: provides a combination of the underpinning hydrological theory and the analytical tools required to better understand and ameliorate problems of water in the environment. 
  • Homogeneous Catalysis: demonstrates the links between catalyst structure, performance, commercial utilisation and sustainability.
  • Processing of Materials: focuses on the processing of materials and fundamental materials properties such as crystallinity, composition, crystal phase, phase mixing, domain structure, grains and grain boundaries, porosity and pore structure.
  • The Chemistry of the Solar System: explores established and cutting-edge theories which help explain the processes that determined the chemical compositions of the pre-solar nebula, our Sun, and the planets and asteroids.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development). 

The third semester of the MSc course focuses on independent laboratory-based (or field and laboratory-based) research conducted with an academic supervisor. The topic is defined by the student and can be chosen from research foci within the School, or with an external industrial or academic partner. 

The research project will involve: 

  • background literature review 
  • project formulation 
  • proposal writing and analytical design 
  • data integration and interpretation. 

Students present the results of their project as an oral presentation, at a poster conference and in a dissertation. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date towards the end of August. 

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc. 

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2023 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Teaching

The MSc degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework, normally equivalent to a total of nine taught modules, and a 15,000-word dissertation, usually completed over the summer semester.

The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework and written examinations.

Events

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences holds weekly seminars during the semester, with expert guest speakers from the UK and abroad. 

The School also holds an annual full-day ‘FRESH’ seminar series (Frontline Earth Science Research at St Andrews). Each year’s FRESH seminar focuses on a different scientific theme and welcomes internationally recognised guest speakers to participate. Previous themes include:

  • The Evolution of Earth’s Atmosphere
  • Volcanic Impacts on Climate, Environment and Society 

Fees

Home
£11,120

Overseas
£27,230

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

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances. Find out more about the scholarships and postgraduate loans available.

All taught postgraduate scholarships

After your degree

Careers

The range of research areas and applications of Geochemistry is so broad that career opportunities span the whole of earth and environmental sciences.

Masters-level training in Geochemistry would provide a suitable platform for a career in materials science outside of Earth and Environmental Sciences specifically. 

Geochemists with MSc degrees from St Andrews are currently employed in: 

  • the energy sector (hydrocarbon industries, petrochemicals, nuclear and renewables) 
  • mining and mineral exploration, extraction and processing 
  • environmental industries and agencies focused on pollution monitoring and environmental remediation 
  • universities as laboratory technicians running equipment and supporting high-quality data production for research projects. 

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


Further study

This comprehensive and rigorous course provides relevant preparation for pursuing a PhD in Geochemistry by incorporating a lab-based research dissertation. Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere. 

Postgraduate research

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.

Postgraduate virtual days

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

Contact us

Phone
+44 (0)1334 46 3940
Email
earthsci@st-andrews.ac.uk
Address
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website