School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MGeol (Hons) Geology

The Earth sciences 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 four-year integrated master degree in geology will develop your knowledge and skills 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. Modules explore geohazards and risk, clean energy transitions, and long term environmental change.

2021 NSS results for our Earth science degrees

  • 88% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of the course
  • 96% of students thought that staff were good at explaining things
  • 93% of students felt that staff made the subject interesting
  • 93% of students agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating
  • 91% of students agreed that they have been able to contact staff 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

New course structure for 2022

Earth science skills and expertise 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. We have recently updated our course structure to reflect the changing demands. 

On this webpage you will find more information about our current course structure, alternatively find out more information on the updated course which will start in September 2022.

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.

Where could an Earth science degree take you?

Key features
  • Four year integrated masters programme.
  • 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.
  • 100 per cent of the final year is taught at masters-level.
  • 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 and Sicily.
  • Improve your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Develop your confidence with your personal tutor, providing you with regular guidance throughout your degree.
  • 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.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Europe, Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our bilateral and ISEP exchange programmes.
Course details
  • Year 1

  • Below you find information about our current course. Find out more information about our updated 2022 course

    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

    • 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.   

    Optional 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. 

  • 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

    • 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.

  • Year 3

  • 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. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

    • Geoscience Frontiers: Research and Communication (GEOL5001)

      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.

    • MGeol Advanced Fieldwork (GEOL5002)

      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.

    • Advanced Analytical Skills (GEOL5003)

      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

    • MGeol Project (GEOL5004)

      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.

    • MGeol Project with Placement (GEOL5005)

      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.

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

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

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. 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

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.


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.


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