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 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. 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.