Geochemistry (MSc) 2020 entry

The MSc in Geochemistry at St Andrews provides students with specialist knowledge and skills in geochemistry and modern geochemical methods, transferrable to a wide variety of geoscience and environmental science careers, as well as preparing students for PhD research. The course involves hands-on laboratory and field sampling training, and experience with state-of-the-art equipment. 

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Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 7 September 2020
  • End date: 30 September 2021

If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Geochemistry page. 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

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

UK and EU: £9,450
Overseas: £23,090

Application deadline

Wednesday 12 August 2020. 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 full-time 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

  • The MSc provides preparation for pursuing a PhD through a lab-based research dissertation, or employment in industry by incorporating applied economic and environmental geochemistry modules and the possibility of industry-sponsored research.
  • Teaching and supervision spans a wide range of expertise in the field of geochemistry, underpinned by state-of-the-art laboratory facilities.
  • The course introduces academic- and industry-standard software for robust geochemical modelling and statistical analysis of data.
  • The School upholds a collegiate, dynamic and research-intensive atmosphere that encourages, and is supportive of, all students.

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 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.

There are seven compulsory modules:

  • 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.
  • Statistics and Analytical Sciences: provides students with a strong background in statistics and methods of data analysis used in Earth Sciences.
  • Earth's Greatest Hits: reviews current 'hot topic' research about how our planet has evolved and some of the major changes in its chemistry, biosphere and climate.
  • 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 chosen from reaction kinetics, physical absorption of gases, macromolecular structures, diffraction, surface properties of materials, and dye modifications to photovoltaic cells; provides experience in planning and performing experiments in a laboratory setting, making measurements, and interpreting data.

Students choose 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: discusses the use of metal-based systems in organic transformations and a detailed treatment of homogeneous catalysis.
  • Hydrothermal Ore Deposits: focuses on the geodynamic setting, age, geometry, and mineralogy of the principal metallic mineral deposits related to hydrothermal processes.
  • Magmatic-related Ore Deposits: focuses on the geodynamic setting, age, geometry and mineralogy of the principal metallic mineral deposits related to magmatic processes.
  • 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.
  • Water in the Environment: 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 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:

  • project formulation
  • a background literature review
  • 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 2020 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Visit St Andrews

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

Upcoming postgraduate visiting days:

  • Wednesday 13 November 2019

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Virtual events

Find out more about studying at St Andrews, why it's unique and what it will do for your future.

Upcoming virtual events:

  • Sunday 18 October at 3.15pm (UK time)
  • Tuesday 22 October at 9.15pm (UK time)
  • Tuesday 29 October at 3.15pm (UK time)
  • Tuesday 5 November at 9.15am (UK time)
  • Friday 15 November at 3.15pm (UK time)

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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). The 2019 FRESH event was entitled, “The Evolution of Earth’s Atmosphere”.

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 are 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.

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

Earth and Environmental Sciences website

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).