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. Our new modules explore geohazards and risk, clean energy transitions, and long term environmental change. Students gain specialist academic, international fieldwork and laboratory skills providing a springboard to an exciting and diverse range of careers.

2020 NSS results for our Earth Science degrees including BSc (Hons) Geology

  • 97% of students felt that staff were good at explaining things.
  • 94% of students agreed the course was intellectually stimulating.
  • 94% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of the course.
  • 96% of students felt they had been able to access course-specific resources (e.g. equipment, facilities, software and collections) when needed.

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 2021*

The University of Plymouth has been ranked 23rd among institutions globally for its contribution to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals*. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Studies, 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

Careers with this subject

Our geological 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.

Where could a geological science degree take you?

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 provides opportunities in a variety of UK and overseas locations including Death Valley USA, Spain, Sicily and Cyprus.
  • Progress your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Develop your confidence with a personal tutor, providing you with weekly guidance throughout your first year.
  • Our PALS mentoring scheme provides you with support from students in the year ahead.
  • Plymouth's coastal location, close to Dartmoor and two UNESCO World Heritage sites provides the perfect setting for studying geology, with opportunities for fieldwork right on our doorstep.
  • Receive essential field safety equipment free 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.
  • 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

    • The Dynamic Earth (GEOL1001)

      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.

    • Earth Materials (GEOL1002)

      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.

    • Geosystems (GEOL1003)

      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.

    • Palaeontology and Stratigraphy (GEOL1004)

      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.

    • Geological Maps and Structural Geology (GEOL1005)

      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.

    • Fieldwork and Key Skills (GEOL1006)

      This module introduces Earth Science students to geological fieldwork and will instruct students how to take field notes, make geological sketches. It will also instruct students in a range of key skills necessary, such as, using learning resources to communicate effectively, citing sources of academic literature, avoiding plagiarism, using digital geospatial data and personal development skills for future careers.

  • 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

    • Preparation for a Year Long Work Placement in Earth Sciences (APIE217)

      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.

    • Sedimentology and Palaeontology (GEOL2001)

      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.

    • Geospatial Techniques (GEOL2003)

      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.

    • Stratigraphy and Earth History (GEOL2004)

      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.

    • Geological Fieldwork (GEOL2006)

      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.

    • Petrology and Volcanology (GEOL2011)

      This module examines theory and techniques of igneous and metamorphic petrological analysis, with strong emphasis on rigorous observation and description of rocks. It will also provide a framework for the interpretation of igneous, volcanic and metamorphic rocks and will contribute to building professional competencies in the evaluation, assessment and interpretation of geological materials and their context.

    • Structural Geology (GEOL2012)

      Processes and products of deformation are investigated using field and petrographic data. Case studies of deformed 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

    • 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

    • Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills (GEOL3001)

    Optional modules

    • Tectonics (GEOL3005)

      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.

    • Geological Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (GEOL3006)

      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.

    • Igneous and Volcanic Processes (GEOL3007)

      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.

    • Advanced Geological Fieldwork (GEOL3008)

      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.

    • Engineering Geology (GEOL3010)

      This module examines the application of earth science techniques and knowledge to civil engineering. Includes desk studies, remote sensing interpretation, database analysis, UK and European Codes of Practice, site investigation design, ground model development, engineering geology in a range of construction situations, and technical reporting.

    • Environmental Change in Earth History (GEOL3013)

      This module evaluates cutting-edge techniques to understand and interpret modern and ancient environmental change. It uses an integrated approach using fossils, sediments and geochemistry to investigate topical and exciting case studies from the geological past and modern systems. The module has important implications for understanding and responding to modern-day environmental change.

    • Geohazards and Risks (GEOL3014)

      This module will provide an overview of common and destructive geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions), how they interact together and ways of assessing risk. Physical processes of the hazards will be covered and how they will interact together. Quantifying hazard and risk will be illustrated through case studies. Practicals will have a numerical theme and will link to employability.

    • Energy Transition Geoscience (GEOL3015)

      This module gives an understanding of current and predicted energy scenarios, impact of energy use and the role of geoscientists in decarbonisation and meeting global sustainable development goals. You learn how energy resources form (petroleum, geothermal, critical minerals) and theory, strategies and practical skills used in resource exploration, development and production, and evaluation of carbon capture & storage.

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 2019 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 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
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. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

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 international-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

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.