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Geochemistry (MSc) 2022 entry

Geochemistry is critical to quantifying the mechanisms, rates and sources behind every aspect of the Earth system. Our 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. 

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Key information

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 5 September 2022
  • End date: 30 September 2023

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

Course duration

One year full time or two years part time (part-time study is not available for students who require a visa to study in the UK)

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.

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Tuition fees

Home: £10,395
Overseas: £25,450

Application deadline

Thursday 11 August 2022. Applicants should apply as early as possible due to limited spaces, and to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé
  • personal statement
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

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

Course information

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. 

Teaching format

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.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.

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 2021–2022 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2022 entry.

There are seven compulsory modules:

  • Geochemistry: covers the origin and distribution of the elements, thermodynamics, redox reactions and aqueous geochemistry,
  • Advanced Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the Earth system, including the application of industry-standard modelling software.
  • Statistics and Analytical Sciences: provides students with a strong background in statistics and methods of data analysis used in Earth Sciences.
  • 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.
  • 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 Laboratorycomprises four practical experiments in physical chemistry which provide experience in planning and performing experiments in a laboratory setting, making measurements, and interpreting data. This module is run by the School of Chemistry.

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.
  • 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.
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis – High T: 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 T: 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.
  • 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 Compositions of Natural Waters and Sedimentary Rocks: provides a combination of the underpinning hydrological theory and the analytical tools required to better understand and ameliorate problems of water in the environment.

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 2022 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

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. 

The next virtual visiting day will be in November 2021.

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.

Online information events

Events and seminars

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' and 'Volcanic Impacts on Climate, Environment and Society'.

Funding

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships

After the MSc

Research degrees

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. 

PhD in Earth Sciences

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 on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

"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
Ana
- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Contact

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of St Andrews
Bute Building
St Andrews
KY16 9TS

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.

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

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.

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.

Study at St Andrews

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