Geology BSc (Hons) 2020 entry

The BSc in Geology at St Andrews will provide you with a deep understanding of the materials, structures, and processes that have characterised the solid earth throughout its 4.6 billion year history. The BSc Geology degree emphasises the origin and chemistry of rocks and minerals, geological mapping, and the processes and events that have shaped the rock record.

Teaching provides training in the formation of sediments, minerals, and rocks and their interaction with the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, using fundamentals of chemistry, physics, and biology to build a deep understanding of the Earth. 

Applied industrial training will introduce you to the skills and knowledge required by the oil, gas, and mining industries, and research projects will allow you to undertake independent field mapping, supported by rock and mineral analysis.

The BSc in Geology from St Andrews is accredited by the Geological Society of London, which provides a faster track to gaining Chartered Geologist status.  

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the Environmental Earth Sciences BSc or the Earth Sciences MGeol Integrated Masters course, which allows you to graduate with a Master in Geology.

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UCAS code

F600

Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 7 September 2020
  • End date: 30 June 2024

If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Geology BSc page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: AABB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.
    • Standard entry grades: AAB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: ABB, including B in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.
    • Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5), including HL6 in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in two of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Geography
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Geology.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Most students who enrol on this course have not studied Earth Sciences at school, and choose Earth Sciences based on a love of the environment, the outdoors, and science. If you are interested in the processes that shape the planet and its environment, a degree in Earth Sciences is likely the right choice. Preference may be given to candidates with strong science qualifications.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Timetables

St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.

Course information

The BSc (Hons) in Geology is a four-year course run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and provides students with a combination of academic skills and vocational training. During your degree, you will be able to take advantage of hands-on field and laboratory-based research projects that investigate topics as varied as the origin of continental crust, to planetary origin and differentiation, to causes and consequences of Earth system functioning during pivotal periods of Earth history.

In first year, you will be introduced to the main concepts of Geology, such as Earth structure and Earth history, including the origin of the planet and Earth’s biosphere.

Alongside Geology, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised

In second year, modules provide additional and deeper study into mineralogy, sedimentary systems, palaeontology, geophysics and geochemistry.

At Honours level, there is a shift from broad-themed modules to more specialised ones that introduce students to a wide variety of exciting new research trends and findings. Modules involve the opportunity to get first-hand experience of new research discoveries and advances in Geology by staff in an integrated lecture-lab-field forum.

Advanced topics available at Honours level include (but are not limited to):

  • GIS (geographic information systems) for Earth science
  • Data visualisation and statistics using R-Studio and Python
  • petroleum exploration
  • geophysics
  • structural geology.

The School is home to state-of-the-art analytical facilities supported by full-time technicians. These allow for the detailed characterisation of natural and synthetic materials, culturing of micro and macro organisms in extreme environments, and geological and geophysical field deployment. These facilities will enable you to address questions from fundamental field geology to assess anthropological versus natural processes in driving climate change. Find out more about research facilities.

Fieldwork

Geology at St Andrews provides outstanding field-based training. Students have the opportunity to take numerous day to multi-week-long field trips associated with individual modules, as well as up to four weeks of fieldwork associated with their independent research projects.

Examples of field trips that are part of the BSc Geology degree include:

  • First year: the five-day “Highland Fling” to renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Second year: six days of geological mapping in central Spain, examining multiple phases of continental collision and mountain building; five days exploring the varying sources of iron, nitrate and phosphate levels on river systems in Yorkshire and their impact on pH and invertebrate life. 
  • Third year: twelve days of mapping the iconic Moine Thrust system and Caledonian igneous complexes in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Fourth year: a two-week transect of the Alpine orogenic belt through northern Italy and central Switzerland.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Geology.

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the Environmental Earth Sciences BSc.  

It is possible for students to take a five-year Integrated Masters course in Earth Sciences, allowing you to graduate with a Master in Geology. Find out more about the Integrated Masters degree.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage

Find out more about studying Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews or visit the Earth and Environmental Sciences School website

Modules

In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in Geology alongside modules in at least one other subject. 

In first year, you must complete two compulsory modules, and in second year, you must complete three compulsory modules. At Honours level, you will take seven to eight compulsory modules.

Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules alongside other optional modules in Geology or in another subject:

  • Planet Earth: provides a foundation into the study of Earth through a study of key elements of the planet and environmental sciences.
  • Earth Resources and Environment: builds on the knowledge from Semester 1, including addressing issues related to natural resources.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year:

  • DynamicEarth: The Earth System: focuses on understanding the behaviour of the solid Earth and its interaction with the atmosphere, biosphere and beyond.
  • Dynamic Earth: Magma, Minerals and Metamorphism: focuses on the geology and geochemistry of the solid Earth and processes in Earth's interior.
  • Dynamic Earth: Earth Surface Processes: focuses on the low temperature processes that operate in land-atmosphere interactions, glacial processes, tectonic geomorphology, geomicrobiology and oceanography.

If you decide to take Geology in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in hydrology, geodynamics and geophysics.

Honours modules involve key skills training and first-hand experience linked to new research discoveries and advances in Earth Sciences. Honours modules that have been offered in past years include:

  • Advanced Petrogenesis
  • Geochemistry
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis for Earth Scientists
  • Geodynamics
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • Petroleum Exploration and Geophysics
  • Processes and Products in Sedimentary Systems
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics.

In your final year, you will also undertake an independent research dissertation involving field and laboratory work and research presentations.


The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject.  However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.

Teaching

Teaching format

The School’s teaching philosophy is to provide a thorough understanding of Earth Sciences through experiential learning via field and lab-based study, first-hand experience in collecting data, testing hypotheses and undertaking analyses, and student-led investigative research.

The BSc in Geology is taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • field work
  • research projects.

Typical class sizes:

  • First year: lectures 80 to 110, tutorials 3 to 6
  • Second year: 30 to 40
  • Honours: 20 to 30

When not attending lectures, tutorials and workshops, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • reading relevant literature
  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of geology. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of laboratory classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all Geology staff on the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website.

In addition to your studies in the School, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.

Assessment

During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting of coursework and written examinations including short questions and essays.

At Honours level some modules are assessed through coursework (50%) and a final examination (50%), while other modules are based entirely on coursework. 

The Honours dissertation is assessed through a written dissertation, project proposal and presentation.

The School aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale webpage

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.

Undergraduates

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 1 April 2020
  • Wednesday 8 April 2020
  • Wednesday 15 April 2020

Fees

Tuition fees for 2020 entry

Scotland and EU Tuition fees for Scottish and EU applicants have yet to be set for 2020 entry.
Rest of the UK Tuition fees for applicants from the rest of the UK have yet to be set for 2020 entry.
Overseas £23,910

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

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

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Funding for fieldwork

Fieldwork expenses for Geology students are covered by the School and the Irvine Bequest, as well as contributions from alumni. There are financial awards at every level of study for students who have earned the highest marks in fieldwork. 

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Geology as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

In taking a joint degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

Your future

Careers

The School is proactive about developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. Assessment styles imitate real workplace scenarios and many modules in Honours years are supported by visits to and by industry partners. As a result, graduates are well prepared for industry and graduate employment prospects are consistently among the best in the UK.

There are multiple career options for Earth and Environmental Sciences graduates, both specifically in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors, as well as in wider science and policy areas.

The degrees offered provide advanced training in a wide range of transferable skills, including scientific problem solving, written communication and oral presentation. The high quality of the field training is particularly valued by employers.

Recent employers of graduates include:

  • Accenture
  • BHP Billiton
  • BP
  • British Geological Survey
  • Fugro
  • Gemfields
  • Gemfields
  • Geotechnics Ltd.
  • Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
  • JBA Consulting
  • JP Morgan
  • Norsk Hydro
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Scottish Natural Heritage.

Many graduates undertake further study, both at MSc and PhD level. Recent PhD destinations include:

  • Boulder
  • CalTech
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • ETH Zurich
  • MIT
  • Open University
  • Oxford
  • Penn State
  • Stanford.

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

Study abroad

Earth and Environmental Sciences students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards. 

Students in the School may be interested in joining the Geological Society, which organises activities such as lectures and networking events as well as social events and field trips across Britain.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is housed within the Irvine Building in the historical heart of the University between St Salvator's Quadrangle and St Salvator's Hall. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, lectures and individual meetings with tutors in this building and in designated lecture theatres elsewhere around St Andrews.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh makes it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact information

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

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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).