School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Geology

Understand how the Earth has evolved over time, how the planet works, and develop an understanding of its possible futures. In both laboratory and the field you will establish a thorough scientific understanding of the physical forces acting on the Earth, the chemistry of its constituent materials and biology revealed by fossils. Developing your knowledge of processes and materials controlling the development of our planet, you'll be primed for work in a diverse range of geological industries.

In the 2016 National Student Survey, 100% of students felt that the staff were good at explaining things; 94% felt staff made the subject interesting; 94% found staff enthusiastic about teaching; 100% found the course intellectually stimulating; 81% felt they had sufficient support with their studies and 100% were satisfied with the programme overall.

Great Staple tor Dartmoor Devon UK

Key features

  • In the 2016 National Student Survey, 100 per cent of students felt that the staff were good at explaining things; 94 per cent felt staff made the subject interesting; 94 per cent found staff enthusiastic about teaching; 100 per cent found the course intellectually stimulating; 81 per cent felt they had sufficient support with their studies and 100 per cent were satisfied with the course overall.
  • Excel in your studies, students report a 100 per cent overall satisfaction on our course.
  • Learn from the experience and expertise of our highly qualified staff. The varied teaching practices range from seminars and tutorials to practical classes and workshops. 
  • Develop your confidence with a personal tutor, providing you with weekly guidance throughout your first year.
  • Progress your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Take part in the substantial fieldwork offered in a variety of UK and overseas locations. You'll become an experienced field-worker, able to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to existing Earth science problems.
  • Explore the natural geology of our rich surrounding area. Plymouth's location is of central importance to studying geology, with opportunities for fieldwork right on our doorstep.
  • Benefit from essential field equipment and e-books, free as part of your welcome package.
  • Work towards becoming a Chartered Geologist, our accreditation by the Geological Society helps you to gain the required experience.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our direct exchange, Erasmus or ISEP programmes. Plymouth is currently the only UK institution to offer exchanges through ISEP, giving our students the greatest range of Earth science exchange opportunities available.

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.

    Core modules
    • GEOL1001 The Dynamic Earth

      This module introduces a dynamic view of how the Earth operates as a series of inter-related systems and provides students with the factual and conceptual basis required to begin to understand these systems. It integrates different geological sub-disciplines via an introductory field excursion, where the basics of mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, stratigraphy and geological map-work will be put into practice.

    • GEOL1004 Palaeontology and Stratigraphy

      This module provides an introduction to: (a) stratigraphic principles and methods; (b) palaeontology and the fossil record, including the processes of fossilisation and the morphology, ecology, stratigraphic ranges and uses of different groups of fossil organisms.

    • GEOL1005 Geological Maps and Structural Geology

      This module will introduce the use of topographic and geologic maps and remotely sensed data, such as aerial photographs, in the Earth Sciences. The module will also introduce key concepts in structural geology. These and related techniques will be used to describe and analyse the geological history of a region.

    • GEOL1002 Earth Materials

      This module provides an introduction to the origins and properties of Earth materials including the common rock forming minerals, and the igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock groups.

    • GEOL1003 Geosystems

      This module introduces how the Earth operates as a series of inter-related, dynamic systems. It provides students with the factual and conceptual knowledge base required to understand these systems, and the linkages between them. The module also aims to build confidence in using mathematical and experimental methods within an Earth Sciences context.

    Optional modules
    • GEES1002PP Climate Change and Energy

      This module provides a scientific evaluation of climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It introduces climate change policy, renewable energy options and societal challenges over GHG reduction measures. Students engage in literature searches and review climate change policy options.

    • GEES1003PP Sustainable Futures

      This module explores the concepts and principles of sustainable development and critically examines their application to a range of real-world contemporary issues. The module provides opportunities to enhance knowledge and understanding and develop key skills by exploring an aspect of 'sustainability in practice' through student-led research.

    • GEES1001PP Natural Hazards

      This module examines the major short-term natural hazards that affect the contemporary Earth. The various different hazards will be covered ranging from geohazards including landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes as well as weather related hazards such as tropical cyclones, extra tropical storms. Emphasis is placed upon natural hazard processes, identification, risk potential and hazard mitigation.

    • OS106PP Our Ocean Planet

      In this module students will explore important topical issues associated with our ocean planet. Students will have a creative opportunity to work in teams on a topic of their choice using a project based learning approach. They will develop a variety of communication skills in order to present their ideas in a medium of their team's choice.

  • 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 elsewhere through our direct exchange, Erasmus or ISEP programmes.

    Core modules
    • APIE217 Preparation for a Year Long Work Placement in Earth Sciences

      This module is designed to assist students in their search and preparation for a year long work placement. It is aimed at students who would like to undertake the placement to enhance both programme specific and employment-related skills during Stage 3.

    • GEOL2003 Geospatial Techniques

      The module develops professional approaches to the collection, analysis and presentation of geospatial data (e.g. geological/geomorphological maps and related Earth imagery) within the Earth Sciences.

    • GEOL2001 Sedimentology and Palaeontology

      This module examines the theory and techniques of paleontological and sedimentological analysis. A range of paleontological data will be investigated to analyse past environments. Modern and ancient sedimentary systems will be evaluated in terms of the processes operating at the time of deposition.

    • GEOL2002 Structures, Magmas and Volcanoes

      The module examines theory and techniques of structural and igneous petrological analysis, with emphasis on rigorous observation and description of rocks and structures. It will provide a framework for the interpretation of structures and igneous rocks in terms of tectonic processes and environments, and will contribute to building professional competencies in the evaluation of geological materials and their context.

    • GEOL2006 Geological Fieldwork

      The module provides training in field data collection techniques, planning for fieldwork and conducting fieldwork in a professional, safe and ethical manner in preparation for students performing their summer field mapping camps. Techniques are to include geological material descriptions, mapping, logging, surveying, and related methods relevant to completing geological mapping projects.

    • GEOL2004 Stratigraphy and Earth History

      This module provides learners with an understanding of the theory and concepts for of the elucidation of Earth History, including litho- bio- and chronostratigraphy, geochemical correlation and isotopic dating methods, sequence stratigraphy and basin evolution. It also provides training in the use and application of key techniques using real-life scenarios.

    • GEOL2005 Structural and Metamorphic Geology

      Processes and products of deformation and metamorphism are investigated using field and petrographic data. Case studies of deformed and metamorphosed terrains are used to illustrate key principles. The knowledge and analytical techniques developed are applied to the understanding of tectonic and geodynamic processes.

  • 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
    • APIE316 Placement in Earth Sciences

      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
  • Your third year gives you the opportunity to develop specialised geological knowledge and skills through selecting optional modules from your specialist degree route. Optional modules include palaeontology, sedimentology, tectonics, volcanology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). You may also undertake advanced fieldwork and will complete an independent field-based mapping and research project, which will develop your professional skills. Our optional field courses visit exciting locations such as Sicily and Cyprus.

    Core modules
    • GEOL3003 Geophysics

      Introduces students to a range of techniques in exploration and solid Earth geophysics. Theoretical understanding will allow students to: (i) interpret geophysical data in a range of contexts, both manually and using modelling software; and (ii) undertake a geophysical field survey using a selection of appropriate methods.

    • GEOL3001 Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills

    Optional modules
    • GEOL3004 Advanced Palaeontology and Sedimentology

      This module examines paleontological and sedimentological concepts, theory and data via a holistic and systematic approach. Modern and ancient sedimentary systems will be evaluated in terms of facies analysis, geochemistry and petrography. Case studies and related datasets will be investigated to analyse past environments and environmental change.

    • GEOL3005 Tectonics

      This module provides a basis for the systematic analysis of structures and processes in a variety of tectonic regimes. A range of specialist analytical methods are introduced and an inter-disciplinary approach to deducing the wide range of geological processes operative in modern and ancient tectonic settings is strongly encouraged through a variety of case-studies.

    • GEOL3006 Geological Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing

      Examines 1) the collection of digital datasets using a range of remote sensing techniques (e.g. satellite imagery, digital elevation models), and 2) the analysis of such remotely sensed data using computer based Geographical Information System software within the Earth Sciences for research and applied purposes.

    • GEOL3007 Igneous and Volcanic Processes

      This module provides a framework for the analysis of igneous rocks from a range of tectono-magmatic settings by means of advanced analytical techniques using real research-informed case studies, and for the critical evaluation of current ideas and concepts in igneous petrology and volcanology.

    • GEOL3008 Advanced Geological Fieldwork

      A residential fieldtrip centred on the analysis of the geological evolution of a region, where students will integrate their own field observations with published work from a variety of locations in developing and understanding of the geological history of that region and its wider significance to the Earth Sciences.

    • GEOL3009 Earth Science Professional Case Studies

      This module allows students to undertake an individual analysis of an advanced geological dataset with an applied or research emphasis. Outcomes are reported in a professional style consultancy document or research paper underpinned by advanced scientific literature. Within groups, students integrate findings and communicate their wider geological significance in a professional public forum.

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 Geology Programme Specification September 2016 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.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

116-128

IB
28 - 30 points. 28 points overall to include 4 at Higher Level in two science subjects. 30 points overall to include 4 at Higher Level in one science subject. English and mathematics must be included.

A level
Depending upon subjects studied, from a minimum of 2 A levels, to include grade C from at least one A level subject from list of subjects below: biology, mathematics/use of mathematics, physics, chemistry, environmental science/studies, applied science, geography, geology or technology, excluding general studies.

BTEC
DDM-DDD – science related subjects within a science related BTEC 18 Unit Extended Diploma

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

English language requirements

Information on the Academic Excellence Awards

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,500 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

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 international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.



Graduate profile

Geology at Plymouth was fantastic and everything that anyone could want from the course.
Ralf Krauze's profile

Graduate profile

The course gave me a good understanding of geology and the different vocations I could pursue after graduating.
Helen Davey's profile

Field courses

The field is the best natural laboratory for developing a real understanding of all aspects of geology.

Fieldwork is central to geology, and at Plymouth you will experience a diverse range of locations and techniques.

Find out more about our field courses

Additional fieldwork and equipment costs

This course includes residential fieldwork. Typically, where the fieldwork is a compulsory part of the course, transport, accommodation and the majority of food costs are paid by the Faculty.

Some courses offer alternative or optional field courses with an additional cost.

Find out more information

Mapping project

Develop project planning, logistics, and 3D visualisation skills through our independent mapping project.

As a geology undergraduate, your third year dissertation will see you undertake an independent mapping project.

Find out more about the geology dissertation

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

Careers

Our graduates leave with a highly desirable suite of skills for all types of organisations and careers.

Find out about the career possibilities accessible with a geology degree.

Find out more about careers in geology

Potential High Achievers Scheme

In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences we recognise that our students are the future leaders in our subject disciplines and core to the development of a sustainable planet. We know that our applicants will thrive in the environment we can provide, and we want to ensure our best applicants become our future.

The scheme is now open for students who have applied to study, from September 2017, any full-time undergraduate course within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, including chemistry. We will be contacting applicants who are not only on course to achieve top marks but who have an outstanding personal statement, in order to offer them a chance to receive an unconditional offer immediately.

Find out more about the scheme.

Professor Iain Stewart MBE

The overlapping diversity of disciplines here at Plymouth makes it a great place to study geology, and our fantastic geological ‘backyard’ is ideal for an outstanding range of fieldwork experiences.

Find out more about Professor Iain Stewart

People