School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Geology

The geosciences are critical to shaping the future of our planet. Geologists use their knowledge of the earth’s evolution and the physical, chemical and biological process that shape our planet, to pioneer sustainable futures. Core modules explore volcanic and seismic hazards, clean energy transitions, and long term environmental change. BSc Geology students develop an understanding of earth history through the practical study of tectonics, rocks, minerals, structures and fossils.

Specialist academic, international fieldwork and laboratory skills provide a springboard to an exciting and diverse range of careers.

Scholarships for outstanding applicants

The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences’ scholarship scheme recognises and rewards students joining our degree courses who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. 
Scholarships of £1,000 will be awarded to the two applicants in earth sciences who achieve the highest grades in their A level or equivalent exams. The scholarship will be awarded during their first year of study at the University of Plymouth.

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

The University of Plymouth has 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.

Find out more in our press release

Innovative Earth Science courses

Our Earth Science courses are designed around a core which provides students with the skills and expertise that are critical to tackle today’s challenges of global environmental change. Ranging from locating and extracting the raw materials needed for a green energy transition to understanding climate history through time, the Earth Sciences play an active role and provide crucial perspectives on our planet's future. 

2022 NSS results for our Earth Science degrees including BSc (Hons) Geology

  • 87% of students agreed the course had provided an opportunity to explore ideas or concepts in depth
  • 87% of students agreed the course is intellectually stimulating
Careers with this subject

Our Earth science students have tremendous opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in a variety of work settings. Our hands-on approach to teaching and learning throughout the course will provide you with the topical skills and experience that you can apply to the wide range of career options as graduates.

What can you do with an Earth science degree?

Key features
  • Our new modules address critical sustainability challenges: reducing risk from natural hazards, harnessing cleaner energy sources and how to combat climate and environmental change.
  • Our approachable staff share their cutting-edge research and expertise through varied teaching practices in lectures, tutorials, practical classes and field courses.
  • Learn to apply the latest techniques in the field and laboratory. Our substantial fieldwork programme uses the unrivalled local range of geological and geographical locations. Residential overseas fieldwork visits regions of active tectonics such as Death Valley, Italy and Sicily.
  • All students have the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Europe, Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our bilateral and ISEP exchange programmes.
  • Students can undertake a placement year, between the second and final year, working full time for a geological employer.
  • Improve your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Develop your confidence with your personal tutor, providing you with regular guidance throughout your degree programme.
  • Get support from students in the year ahead via our PALS mentoring scheme.
  • Live and study close to the sea, Dartmoor, and two geological UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Receive free essential field safety equipment as part of your welcome package.
  • Work towards becoming a Chartered Geologist, our accreditation by the Geological Society, the world’s oldest and most prestigious national learned society for geology, helps you to gain the required experience.
Course details
  • Year 1

  • Laying the foundations of geological knowledge, your first year provides you with an introduction to laboratory and field skills. You'll learn about key Earth processes including plate tectonics, and take a practical approach to the study of minerals, rocks, fossils and geological structures. Our tutorials will help you gain effective study techniques and computing skills and you'll develop your confidence with a personal tutor, providing you with weekly guidance throughout your first year. You'll also undertake fieldwork, including residential classes, across the South West.

    Graphical overview of our course structure.

    Core modules

    • Sustainable Geoscience (GEOL1008)

      An introduction to sustainable geoscience and the role of geoscientists in the solution of global challenges and UN sustainable development goals.  Introduction to good, professional and ethical scientific practice. The module also introduces the Earth as a system of interlinked spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere), and the unifying paradigms associated with geological time and plate tectonics. 

    • Earth Materials and Resources (GEOL1009)

      An introduction to Earth materials (minerals, rocks and resources) and geological structures, focussing on their formation, composition and properties from a theoretical and practical perspective, supported by case study(ies). The environmental and ethical issues associated with resource exploitation will be introduced. Students will be introduced to safe and professional field practice. 

    • Climate Tectonics and Hazards (GEOL1010)

      This module provides an introduction to Earth Surface processes and their interactions with plate tectonics, at present and in the geological past. Participants learn how an understanding of Earth surface processes and environments can be used in determining the cause and nature of past and future climate and oceanographic change, and in the understanding, prediction and mitigation of a range of geological hazards. 

    • The Life and Death of an Ocean (GEOL1011)

       This module will explore the concept of the Wilson Cycle whereby major oceans periodically open and close, causing reconfiguration of the size, shape and position of the continents through geological time. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the interactions between plate tectonics and earth surface systems and palaeontological evidence for past environments and environmental change.   

  • Year 2

  • Year 2 consolidates the knowledge and skills developed in year one, with an emphasis on the practical side of geology. You'll develop observational, analytical and interpretive skills and the ability to use them to answer fundamental geological questions. You'll also learn to make geological maps and develop new field skills which will be used in fieldwork you undertake in both the UK and in Spain. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Canada, Australia, USA or Europe.

    Core modules

    GEOL2014 The Earth Surface and Critical Zone

    GEOL2016 Ocean Geoscience

    GEOL2015 The Earth's Interior and Resources

    GEOL2017 The Building of Britain

  • Optional placement year

  • Take advantage of our optional placement year, giving you the opportunity to develop your geological skills in the workplace and gain valuable experience.  Find your perfect placement with the help of our employability service and benefit from specialist workshops and tutorials in your second year, helping you prepare for your year in industry. 

    Core modules

    • Placement in Earth Sciences (APIE316)

      This module aims to provide an opportunity for professional training of at least six months duration with an approved company or host organisation between stage 2 and 4. While on placement, students will gain experience of how Earth Science is used in the workplace, be able to apply their Earth Science knowledge and expertise, and learn further skills and relevant techniques.

  • Final year

  • In your third year, you will develop specialised geological knowledge and skills through an exciting choice of sustainability-focused option modules, including advanced fieldwork. New option modules from September 2021 include geohazards and risk, energy transition geoscience, and paleoenvironmental analysis. Students can also take engineering geology, advanced tectonics, igneous and volcanic processes, Geological Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing. All students will complete a dissertation project, which will include independent field-based mapping. Those students taking advanced fieldwork will develop additional professional field-skills in locations such as Sicilian volcanoes, Italy, or the Death Valley, USA.

    Core modules

    GEOL3016 Geoscience Research Project

    GEOL3017 The professional Geoscientist 

    Optional modules

    GEOL3013 Environmental Change in Earth History

    GEOL3014 Geohazard and Risk

    GEOL3015 Energy Transition Geoscience

    GEOL3018 Evolution of Tectonic and Magmatic Systems

    GEOL3010 Engineering Geology

    GEOL3019 Neotectonics, hazards and Resources

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

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

BSc (Hons) Geology programme specification_5366

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

112 - 120

IB
28 - 30 points overall to include science related subjects.

A level
112-120 points including a minimum of 2 A levels, relevant subjects Biology, Mathematics/Use of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Applied Science, Geography, Geology, Design Technology. Excluding General Studies.

BTEC QCF Extended Diploma/RQF National Extended Diploma: DMM to DDM – science related subject. You are encouraged to contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk if you do not meet this criteria.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access:
Pass an Access to HE Diploma (science based) with at least 33 credits at merit. You are encouraged to contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk if you do not meet this criteria.

GCSE
All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) English and Mathematics at grade C / 4 or above.

English language requirements.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,600 £16,300
Part time (Home) £770 £770
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.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.


How to apply
All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Progression routes

International progression routes

The University of Plymouth International College (UPIC) offers foundation, first-year and pre-masters programmes that lead to University of Plymouth degrees. Courses are specially designed for EU and international students who are missing the grades for direct entry to the University, and include full duration visa sponsorship. You can start in January, May or September, benefitting from small class sizes, top-quality tuition and 24/7 student support.


Find out more at plymouth.ac.uk/upic or contact our team at info@upic.plymouth.ac.uk

Research

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.

Find out more about our research
Aerial shot of an active volcano.

People

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.