School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Geology with Ocean Science

Broaden your geological horizons by exploring the connection between the Earth and its marine and nearshore environments. Geoscientists and ocean scientists play a critical role in shaping the future of our planet. Our joint honours degree covers theoretical and practical aspects of geology, oceanography and coastal processes to help address critical sustainability challenges on land, in the ocean and in coastal regions.

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 with Ocean Science

  • 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

Register in advance for Clearing

We'll give you a call on A level results day to discuss your place at Plymouth, meaning there's one less thing to worry about.

Find out more about Clearing

Key features
  • Gain a breadth of knowledge of the Earth and marine sciences enabled by a joint honours degree.
  • Access a range of career options in coastal zone management, coastal heritage conservation, and environmental monitoring, surveying and planning.
  • 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 focus on learning about mineral rock forming processes, Earth history and the fossil record. Introductory fieldwork in the South West underpins your theoretical learning. You'll spend one third of your study time learning basic aspects of physical, chemical and biological oceanography and meteorology. You'll also develop your confidence with a personal tutor, providing you with weekly guidance throughout your first year.

    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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • GEOL1006 Fieldwork and Key Skills

      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.

    • OS102 Physical and Chemical Processes of the Ocean

      This module provides an introduction to the main physical and chemical processes occurring in the world's oceans and a foundation in key aspects of underpinning science and mathematics.

    • OS109 Introduction to Biodiversity and Marine Ecosystems

      This module will provide an introduction to biodiversity with particular focus on marine organisms. Students will be taught how we name and classify species using a hierarchical system. Students will learn where different organisms live and how they interact in various ecosystems in our oceans. Students will gain a basic understanding of food webs, primary production and marine ecology.

  • Year 2
  • Year 2 consolidates the geological knowledge and skills you’ve developed so far, with an emphasis on practical aspects of geology. You'll increase your understanding of fieldwork, applied geological techniques and Earth surface systems. Alongside geological modules, one third of your study will focus on large-scale ocean dynamics, tides waves and coastal processes. You can also take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Canada, Australia, USA or Europe 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • OS201 Global Ocean Processes

    • OS204 Waves, Tides and Coastal Dynamics

      This module provides an introduction to the characteristics of ocean waves and focuses on how waves and tides interact with the coast and drive the coastal processes that result in shoreline erosion and accretion.

  • 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
  • In your final year, you will develop specialised geological knowledge and skills through an exciting choice of sustainability-focused option modules, including advanced fieldwork overseas. New option modules from September 2021 include geohazards and risks, energy transition geoscience, and palaeoenvironmental analysis. You will also will expand your knowledge of coastal and near-shore oceanography, including  of waves, coastal and estuarine processes. During your honours dissertation you will complete an independent laboratory, field or industry-based project in geology or ocean science.

    Core modules
    • OS303 Ocean Dynamics

      The module provides an introduction to dynamical oceanography with emphasis on the large- and meso-scale circulation in the world ocean and shelf seas. Topics include geostrophic and wind driven currents, eddies, formation of fronts, upwelling, interactions between water masses, exchanges between shelf and deep seas. Emphasis is placed on quantitative understanding of physical processes and the analysis of field data.

    • OS306 Coastal Geomorphology and Estuaries

      A study of the different geomorphological archetypes of the coastal zone which builds on the student's knowledge of physical processes to describe how the geographical characteristics of these zones develop. The module explores how the characteristics of these zones influence the associated ecosystems and examines how human utilisation of this space contributes to or conflicts with the natural setting.

    Optional modules
    • GEOL3001 Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills

    • GEOL3002 Earth Science Independent Research Project and Professional Skills

      An independent research project on an Earth science topic, normally involving field and/or laboratory work on a topic relevant to the degree programme. Independent work is linked to skills development appropriate to the management of the project and entry and success in the professional workplace.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • GEOL3010 Engineering Geology

      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.

    • GEOL3013 Environmental Change in Earth History

      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.

    • GEOL3014 Geohazards and Risks

      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.

    • GEOL3015 Energy Transition Geoscience

      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 With Ocean Science Programme Specification September 2019 5367

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

A level
112-120 points range 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.

IB
28-30 overall to include science related subjects.

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
Home £9,250 To be confirmed
International £14,200 To be confirmed
Part time (Home) £770 To be confirmed
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.

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

Academic staff

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