School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MGeol (Hons) Geology

Fascinated by the evolution of the Earth and the way our planet works? Do you want to go deeper than it’s possible to on a three-year degree? Our four year undergraduate geology course will develop your knowledge and skills to masters-level through advanced fieldwork, research training and opportunities to establish links with industry professionals, priming you for success in a range of geological careers in academia, government or industry.

You will learn from the experience and expertise of our highly qualified staff. Varied teaching practices range from seminars and tutorials to practical classes and workshops. You’ll work towards becoming a Chartered Geologist, our accreditation by the Geological Society helps you to gain the required experience. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend your second or fourth year studying abroad in Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our direct exchange, Erasmus or ISEP programmes.

2020 NSS results for our Earth Science degrees including MGeol (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.
  • 93% of students were satisfied with the teaching.
While no course-specific NSS data are yet available for 2020, we’re very proud of our 2019 NSS results:
  • 100% satisfaction rate for overall teaching on the course.
  • 100% of students said our staff were good at explaining things and made the subject interesting.
  • 100% of students said the course was intellectually stimulating.

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.

Call our Clearing hotline: 0333 241 6929

Contact us today to discuss your options and secure your place on one of our courses with vacancies this September.

Find out more about Clearing

Key features

  • Sharpen your research skills working alongside staff on a research or industry-related project, with the potential to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Refine your skills - 100 per cent of the final year is taught at masters-level.
  • Broaden your geological knowledge by attending our research seminar series.
  • Benefit from essential field safety equipment free as part of your welcome package.
  • Progress your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Hone your abilities through the close links University staff maintain with the Earth science sector. Our involvement in these areas ensures your experience at Plymouth will be focused towards the current needs of industry and society while giving you access to the latest industry-standard geological software.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Work towards becoming a Chartered Geologist, our accreditation by the Geological Society helps you to gain the required experience. The world’s oldest and most prestigious national learned society for geology.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second or fourth 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 develop effective study techniques and computing skills and you'll 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Year 2
  • Year 2 consolidates the knowledge and skills developed in Year 1, with an emphasis on the practical side of geology. You'll develop observational, analytical and interpretive skills and the ability to use these skills 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
    • 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.

    • GEOL2011 Petrology and Volcanology

      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.

    • GEOL2012 Structural Geology

      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
    • 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.

  • Year 3
  • Your third year gives you the opportunity to develop specialised geological knowledge and skills through selecting optional modules from a specialist degree route. You may also undertake advanced fieldwork and will complete an independent field-based mapping and research project, which will develop your professional skills. On our optional field courses you can visit exciting locations such as Sicilian volcanoes in Italy or the Death Valley in the USA.

    Core modules
    • GEOL3001 Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills

    • 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.

    Optional modules
    • 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.

  • Final year
  • The overall emphasis in your final year is to deepen and refine your field, research and professional skills. You'll build on your existing field skills by exposure to advanced field techniques and take part in modules aimed to develop research, analytical and science communication skills. Finally, you will carry out an advanced masters-level independent research project, developed by academic staff and with the potential to lead to publication in academic journals. 100 per cent of this year will be undertaken at master's level.

    Core modules
    • GEOL5001 Geoscience Frontiers: Research and Communication

      Topical issues in pure and applied Earth Science provide the context for conveying the basic elements of geoscientific research. Students will get guidance on the research methodologies that underpin geological research, and receive training in generic research skills, such as project planning and management, scientific ethics, funding arrangements, and communicating research to both technical and non-technical audiences.

    • GEOL5002 MGeol Advanced Fieldwork

      This module is based around a series of case study based geoscience problems which require students to find appropriate field and follow-up lab techniques, apply them, interpret the results and report on these results through a series of industry style group and individual presentations and technical workshops.

    • GEOL5003 Advanced Analytical Skills

      This module aims to provide a practical knowledge and understanding of a range of analytical techniques used in the field of geochemistry through a series of case studies. To enable students to synthesis the dataset acquired and allow them to report it through a series of conference style presentations.

    Optional modules
    • GEOL5004 MGeol Project

      Advanced, independent research project, normally involving geological field and/or laboratory work. Autonomy will be expected with respect to the design and operation of the project. Professionally presented results will entail rigorous analysis, critical awareness, and current contextual significance.

    • GEOL5005 MGeol Project with Placement

      A placement with a sponsor organisation during which an independent research project, normally involving field and/or laboratory work on a topic relevant to the MGeol is undertaken.

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:

MGeol Geology Programme Specification September 2019 5368

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

120 - 128

28-30 overall to include a science related subject.

A level
120-128 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: DDM – science related subject. You are encouraged to contact 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.

Pass a science Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits overall (including GCSE English and Mathematics grade C / 5 or above or equivalent). 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at distinction and 15 credits at merit or higher from science units: biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, environmental science/studies, applied science, geography, geology or technology.  

English language requirements.

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

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £13,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £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

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

Pembrokeshire fieldwork

2nd year geology students on a field trip to Pembrokeshire.

The focus of this trip is to further develop geological mapping expertise, using the dramatic landscape and geology of St David's Head, where you will be set the task of mapping a section of coastline and moor in an independent mapping exercise. Subsequently you’ll undertake a series of exercises tailored to your mapping camp destination. 

Inspiring lecturers

Geology Professor Iain Stewart recently worked as scientific consultant on the series Seven Worlds, One Planet, hosted by Sir David Attenborough and produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit.  

“The Natural History Unit and Sir David Attenborough are absolutely at the top of their field when it comes to programmes of this nature, and it has been fascinating to work with them. I believe the final series will ignite people’s interest in the planet once again as it sparks that personal and emotional connection required for people to really take notice.”

Read more about Iain's work with the BBC

Where could a career in geology take you?

Geologists are in demand globally. From meeting challenges associated with sustaining energy supplies, to developing low-carbon economies, and understanding, designing and mitigating against changing climates, there are many exciting opportunities available.

Updates and news from our students and staff

Gain insight into what's happening in earth sciences at the University of Plymouth. Enjoy reading about staff success, research, field trips, learning opportunities, placements and more.

Read our latest newsletter

Listen to our graduates

Angharad Hyett

Angharad talks about her time at the University of Plymouth on the MGeol (Hons) Geology course.

Loralie Robson - Technician at Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC)

Loralie talks about her time at the University of Plymouth on the MGeol (Hons) Geology course.


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

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

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


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