School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc Environmental and Engineering Geology

This programme combines environmental and engineering geology to provide an outstanding foundation for a career in industry and consultancy. By combining the principles of geology, geotechnical and environmental sciences with an appreciation of new technologies you will develop interdisciplinary approaches to site investigation, soil and rock characterisation and the assessment of environmental contamination.

Postgraduate opportunities – virtual drop-in session

Find out more about postgraduate study in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at our virtual drop-in session.

Key features

  • A unique programme combining environmental and engineering geology with an interdisciplinary approach to allow the communication and the collaboration between civil and geotechnical engineers, environmental experts, professional geologists, stakeholders to develop and promote sustainable projects and management of risks.
  • An employability focused programme with training in laboratory and site investigations.
  • The proximity - with an outstanding geology and several important sites where geohazards, contaminated land and engineering geology issues can be investigated directly in the field.
  • A wide spectrum and expertise in environmental and geoscience subjects and MSc’s taught in Plymouth and in sustainable geoscience and communication at the Sustainable Earth Institute.
  • State of the art laboratories in chemistry, Earth science and physical geography as well as a geotechnical laboratory.
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • The MSc Environmental Engineering Geology programme provides an employability and practically focused curriculum in environmental and engineering geology to meet the current and future needs of the engineering geology industry through post graduate training. 
    During the first two semesters of this one-year programme, you will study a range of core taught modules – from understanding the subsurface and soil / rock properties to developing a range of skills needed when undertaking site investigations and assessments. Two of these modules are designed specifically for this degree, the others draw upon our long standing expertise in environmental science. You will also undertake a placement, complemented by field based experiential learning to provide an interdisciplinary foundation to environmental and engineering geology. In the final semester you will complete an independent dissertation project.
    Throughout your studies, we will support you in gaining the research and professional skills to help you get the most from the programme – and launch a successful career.

    Core modules

    • Professional Practice in the Environmental Sector (GEES515)

      This module examines the place of sustainability and environmental management in modern business practice, and prepares students for professional work experience in semester 2. It also provides students with a critical understanding of the principles, ethics and methods of environmental law and regulation, and examines the role of economics in characterising and addressing human interaction with the environment

    • MSc Dissertation (GEES520)

      The student will complete an independent research project that they have designed in semester 1 as part of their research skills development. The record of the research will communicate the project aims, research problem, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, discussion/synthesis and conclusions in the format specified and to a professional standard.

    • Soil and Rock Mechanics, Characterisation and Field Skills (GEES528)

      This module covers the principles of soil and rock mechanics. How soil and rock behave under loading and what are the main parameters to characterize those behaviours. Laboratory testing is used to give an insight on the basic principle of soil and rock strength and how these are determined. Ground investigation techniques used to assess soil and rock characteristics are also described and demonstrated in the field.

    • Professional Placement Experience (GEES500)

      This module provides an opportunity to experience professional practice via work experience with a company / host organisation. It will allow you to apply and develop your subject skills and knowledge, learn more about professional careers within the sector aligned to your degree, develop contacts with potential employers, and refine your career aspirations.

    • Geohazards and the Built Environment (GEES532)

      This module will introduce geohazards and their impacts, exploring how to assess, monitor and mitigate them. Students undertake an assessment of a natural geohazard and produce a professional report on that assessment with a proposal for remediation. They will also learn about anthropogenic hazards and develop skills in public communication of these issues, via a practice based assessment.

    • Site Investigation and Land Quality (GEES533)

      This module introduces all the phases of a site investigation, including the assessment of contamination, how it may impact upon receptors and, remediation strategies. Students undertake a desk study and write a related report of known sites where historical land use may have impacted land quality. Non-intrusive assessment techniques and the use of novel and advanced remediation technologies are covered in the module.

    • Water Management and Sustainability in Mining (GEES534)

      This module considers sustainable water resource management and mitigation of environmental damage from mining. Threats to ground and surface water resources are explored at all stages of mine operation from exploration to closure and reclamation. Students develop necessary theoretical geochemical, hydrological and hydrogeological knowledge to predict and manage outcomes according to current international best practice.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Environmental And Engineering Geology Programme Specification September 2024 7035

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

An honours degree (normally at lower second class or better) in a relevant discipline (e.g. BSc Geography, Environmental Science, Geological Sciences, Geotechnical or Civil Engineering) OR overseas equivalent. If you apply with a recent lower second-class degree along with relevant industry experience, this will also be considered. If you apply without recent formal qualifications, but with relevant industry experience you will also be considered.
A minimum grade C in English Language at GCSE level OR a minimum overall score of 6.5 in IELTS with no less than 5.5 in any component.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.
For an informal enquiry, please contact Dr Matt Bailey Ross by email.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £10,200 £10,700
International £18,000 £19,800
Part time (Home) £570 £590
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £11,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

Tuition fee discount for University of Plymouth graduates

If you studied your undergraduate degree at Plymouth, you may be eligible for a fee discount if you complete your postgraduate studies here as well.
  • 10% or 20% discount on tuition fees for home students 
  • For 2024/2025 entry, a 20% discount on tuition fees for international students (International alumni who have applied to the University through an agent are not eligible to receive the discount)

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

How to apply

When to apply
Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full.
Before you apply
Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance. 
Disability Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
Submitting an application
Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page). 
What happens after I apply?
You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeksof us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.
We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. 
If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:
Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Dr Matt Bailey Ross 

Programme Leader
"Plymouth is an excellent place to study this programme. Firstly it's geologically in a unique position, as well as having mining and industrial legacy issues giving us access to unique case studies right on our doorstep. Secondly your learning will be driven by the latest technological trends, not only from our industry advisors but also from leading edge research undertaken here at the University of Plymouth."

Students undertaking fieldwork in Yelverton

A geophysics trip with expert support from leading industry experts to use state of the art equipment. 
students on a field trip in Yelverton
students on a field trip in Yelverton
students on a field trip in Yelverton
students on a field trip in Yelverton

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

We have been named among the top 5% of universities globally in 2022 for its contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals*, in particular, work on marine issues and on climate change. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, sustainability is at the heart of our research and teaching. From sustainable cities, affordable and clean energy, to climate policy, biodiversity, and natural hazards, our academic staff work with partners locally and overseas to help understand, communicate and solve fundamental and pressing sustainability challenges.

QS World University Rankings 2023

In top 15 UK universities for earth and marine sciences, top 18 for geology and geophysics – QS World University Rankings by subject 2023.

The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators Award

We are pleased to announce once again this year an award to the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth from London livery company the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators
For informal enquiries about the award contact the course Programme Lead.
Applications for this award will close on 31 July 2024 and the successful applicant will be notified by the first week of September.
Applications must be submitted to: GEES Enquiries with the title of the award in the title and the programme you are applying to. 
Company of Worshipful Water Conservators
srk consultancy logo

Scholarship opportunity 

SRK (UK) is pleased to announce its scholarship programme for the academic year 2024/25, created to assist students undertaking a masters (MSc) degree in geochemistry or relates courses (geoscience, applied environmental geology, environmental science) which can be applied in the resources and engineering industries. The award is for £1500 towards tuition fees. The recipient may also have the opportunity to work alongside SRK’s geochemistry team and gain hands-on experience in their selected field, during their summer dissertation. 
Closing date 28 July 2024. Please contact programme leader for more details and eligibility criteria.  
"Studying Environmental and Engineering Geology at the University of Plymouth gave me the practical experience and insightful knowledge to transition to industry. I found the course's practical approach to learning particularly effective, as well as enjoyable. 
The placement I undertook as part of the course was invaluable in gaining experience within the industry and proved beneficial in my search for postgraduate employment. I am now working as a Graduate Geotechnical Engineer at a leading geotechnical consultancy where I apply the skills I learned to solve geoenvironmental and geotechnical issues at various sites across the UK."
Morven Irons, MSc Environmental and Engineering Geology
Morven Irons on site

Related research

Centre for Research in Earth Sciences (CRES)

Our world-class research keeps staff at the cutting edge of recent scientific developments within the field.
Explore the interdisciplinary research carried out within Earth sciences.
Aerial shot of an active volcano.

Sustainable Earth Institute 

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world.
We bring researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges.
We link diverse research areas across the University including science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business.
Baobab tree in Madagascar

Journey to the Bottom of the Celtic Sea

Research by our Earth Scientists on the Celtic Sea bed is helping develop renewable energy futures in the south west.