Geochemistry (MSc) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

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 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Application deadline

Thursday 8 August 2024

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.”
- 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.  


  • 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.  


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.



  • Analytical Methods in Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the Earth system.   
  • 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, perform geochemical analyses in the field and present data in a written report.   
  • 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.   
  • Research Project: involves project formulation, proposal writing and analytical design, as well as data integration and interpretation. The results are presented as oral presentations, as a poster as part of a conference, and in a dissertation.  
  • 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 Physical Inorganic Chemistry: focuses on advanced discussion of the properties of selected main group compounds, spectroscopy and magnetism.   
  • 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.    
  • Coding and Modelling in Earth Sciences: focuses on building understanding of fundamental concepts in scientific coding, gaining practical coding experience using the popular Python language and then the application of computer models to gain insight into topics across the Earth Sciences.  
  • 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. 
  •  Evolution and dynamics of the silicate Earth: 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.  
  • Global Resource Challenges: tackles the economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and ethical issues regarding mining, and future challenges shaping mineral exploration into the mid-21st century. It includes field trips to see the environmental impact of mining.  
  • Homogeneous Catalysis: demonstrates the links between catalyst structure, performance, commercial utilisation and sustainability.  
  • Pollution and aqueous chemistry: provides a combination of the underpinning hydrological theory and the analytical tools required to better understand and ameliorate problems of water in the environment.   
  • 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 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.


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 




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our 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.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


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 online visiting days

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

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 3940
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website