BSc (Hons)

Geological Hazards

Solving problems using real-world data

F611UCAS code 3yrsfull time

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides are all part of how the earth works. Unfortunately, these, along with human activities such as mining, present major risks to life, infrastructure and livelihoods.

This course trains you to ‘read’ the landscape and understand the mechanisms, triggers and risks involved in the evolution of its geological hazards.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Gain valuable employability skills both in the laboratory and in the field
  • Participate in field work in both the UK and overseas
  • Research active geological hazards in Tenerife
  • Use our state-of-the-art geological and geotechnical labs for practical work

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is fully accredited by the Geological Society of London, the professional body that oversees geoscience in the UK. It is the first stage of professional development leading to the award of Chartered Geologist status after a period in industry.

We will give you the knowledge and practical skills to ensure an interesting and rewarding career in the specialist area of geological hazards.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • aid organisations
  • environmental organisations
  • coastal protection work
  • civil sector roles
  • mining
  • insurance companies
  • Postgraduate Studies
Tim Over, BSc (Hons) Geological Hazards student

My course is informative and interesting, the staff are approachable and friendly, and the fieldtrips are especially great.

Tim Over, BSc (Hons) Geological Hazards student

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Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time
The UCAS tariff for 2017 entry has changed. See how this affects your tariff score A LEVELS
104-120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 72 points from two Science subjects or one Science and one relevant Technology subject. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2016/17 entry: full time: £9,000 p/a*
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

International students
2016/17 entry: full time: £13,700 p/a**
2018/19 entry: full time: £14,400 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5550
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Programme specification
Accreditations & Endorsements



Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Fieldtrips in the UK and abroad providing invaluable practical skills
  • The open-door approach of the lecturers, many of whom have industry experience
  • Superb careers advice and support that is part of your course

Browse all courses in Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

To be a good geological hazard professional you first need to be a good geologist. In year one we concentrate on the fundamentals of the geological sciences, as well as focusing on the physics and chemistry of earth processes.

Core units in this year include:

  • How the Earth Works
  • Mineralogy and Petrology 
  • Sedimentology and Palaeontology 
  • Natural Hazards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Science for Earth Systems

Year two

Core units in this year include:

  • Hydrology and Flood Hazard Assessment
  • Introduction to Geomechanics
  • Professional Skills for Applied Scientists
  • Research in Geohazards
  • Structural Geology
  • Volcanology and Seismology

Year three

Customise your studies by undertaking an independent project where you can decide the hazard-based topic, collect samples, carry out lab tests and report your findings. You’ll also consolidate your learning in the study of the several specialist subject areas.

Core units in this year include:

  • Disaster Management and Communication
  • Geological Hazard Process Modelling
  • Geological Hazards Project
  • Hazard and Risk Analysis
  • Landslides and Slope Stability


Teaching and Assessment

The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.

How are you assessed?

Assessment is a mix of coursework and exams, roughly 50:50. However, your coursework can take a variety of forms including:

  • laboratory reports
  • oral and poster presentations
  • reports on field-based projects
  • computer-based assessment
Nick Koor

Tutor's view

Nick Koor
Earth and Environmental Sciences

A sound understanding of the geological processes that interact with us and the built environment and how we can predict and manage these events. This unique degree utilises state-of-the-art labs and computing facilities throughout and graduates often go on to postgraduate studies in subjects such as volcanology, climate change and coastal engineering.

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Monitor Facilities & Features


We offer a fully equipped geological, geochemical and recently refurbished Geomechanics laboratories. Brimming with ultra-modern equipment, here’s a taste of what you’ll be able to work on:

  • Petrology laboratory
  • state-of-the-art soil mechanics laboratory
  • state-of-the-art rock mechanics & rock physics laboratory
  • Photogrammetric suite
  • Scanning Electron Microscope      

Labs for XRF, gamma spectrometry, crystal growth, low temperature physics, geochemistry and palaeontology are available for you to use but are not part of your core degree facilities.

Field Trips

Fieldwork is an important part of the degree and can take between 50 and 70 days spread across the whole course. From geological mapping techniques to key skills such as geomorphological mapping and volcanic deposit logging, trips normally are taken to:

  • the Isle of Wight
  • Dorset
  • North Norfolk
  • the Cotswolds
  • North Wales
  • Tenerife
  • California (optional final year - student funded)

Maths Café

Drop in any time and get one-to-one help with that tricky maths or stats problem. With handouts on key topics to take away and computer-aided learning packages, we can get the problem solved and help you improve your numeracy skills.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee. But travel costs will be incurred on the Mapping Training Field Course, which takes place at locations within the UK in the summer between course years 1 and 2 of study. This will be around £100. You will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs associated with compulsory fieldwork.

For compulsory project work, normally in the UK or Europe, costs for travel and accommodation can be from £0 - £1000.

For optional fieldwork, costs of travel, accommodation, meals and other subsistence are around £1200.


In addition, you will be expected to buy field equipment, (e.g. compass, clinometers, hammer, hand lens, notebook) at the start of your first year. These costs are £125.


In addition, you will be expected to buy field equipment, (e.g. compass, clinometers, hammer, hand lens, notebook) at the start of your first year. These costs are £130.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

There is a growing need to monitor, warn and help control problems arising from geological hazards, leading to a rapid increase in employment opportunities for geological hazard graduates.

You are eminently employable and as a leading provider of applied geoscience graduates to industry we have an enviable employment record. Job opportunities include roles in regulatory authorities and government agencies, with geotechnical and geological consultants or in teaching.

Or you may choose to go on to postgraduate study and specialise in subjects such as volcanology, engineering geology, crisis and disaster management, contaminated land studies and coastal engineering.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • hazard mitigation specialist
  • geotechnical and geological consultant
  • ground investigation specialist
  • researcher in volcanic hazards
  • disaster risk management strategists
  • hazard assessors for insurance companies

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
Employment boosting opportunities

We feel it’s very important for you to gain first-hand experience of the variety of geological techniques you will be learning throughout your course. Our strong emphasis on field work means you can gain real-world data from geological sites giving you an insight into current geohazard management and mitigation practice.

The School has strong links with industry and students professional and career development skills are supported by student tutors, who are responsible for liaising with industrial partners and alumni with regards to site and office visits, guest speakers, paid summer placements, research projects and graduate employment opportunities. In addition, the dissertation thesis allows students to engage with industry and potential employers during their research project. 

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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