BSc (Hons) Geology - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)


UCAS codeF600

full time3yrs

Understanding the development of our planet

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Climate change, global catastrophes, declining energy sources – all these connect everyday life with the world of the working geologist.

This is a highly practical, hands-on course, and located close to the ‘Jurassic Coast’, Portsmouth is the ideal place to study geology.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use our state-of-the-art geological and geochemical labs for practical work
  • Venture overseas for field-based learning and project work (e.g. Brittany, Cyprus)
  • Visit local geological sites on the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast


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.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • mineral and petroleum exploration
  • oilfield services
  • mining
  • quarrying
  • geoscience information analysis


William Smith, BSc (Hons) Geology graduate

The fieldwork aspect of the course was fantastic, it was both educational and social, as well as a great opportunity to see some geologically and aesthetically beautiful places.

William Smith, BSc (Hons) Geology graduate



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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Structure & Teaching

Year one

You will receive a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of geoscience.

Core units in this year are:

  • How the Earth Works
  • Mineralogy and Petrology 
  • Sedimentology and Palaeontology 
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Science for Earth Systems
  • Engineering Geology and Geohazards

Year two

Develop your knowledge and benefit from UK and overseas field work that is a vital component of any geoscience degree.

Core units in this year are:

  • Petrology
  • Sedimentology and Facies Analysis
  • Structural Geology
  • Professional Skills for Geoscientist

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Volcanology and Seismology
  • Geological Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Hydrology and Flood Hazard Assessment
  • Palaeontology

Year three

Customise and consolidate your studies. In this year you will also undertake an independent project and an overseas field course.

Core units in this year are:

  • Geology Project
  • Geodynamics
  • Mineral Resources and Exploration

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Applied Sedimentology & Petroleum Geology
  • Petrogenesis & Geochronology
  • Oceans, Climates & Environments

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


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.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 31% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 69% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 39% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 61% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 24% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 76% studying independently and 0% on work placement


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

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 63% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 24% by coursework
  • Year two students: 50% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 37% by coursework
  • Year three students: 43% by written exams, 2% by practical exams and 55% by coursework

Tutor's view


Professor Rob Strachan
Earth and Environmental Sciences

A practical-based course aimed at producing graduates ready for employment in mineral and petroleum exploration and other industries.

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Facilities & Features


You will have access to modern, petrology and palaeontology teaching laboratories stocked with a wide range of hand specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils. There are also transmitted light binocular microscopes and polarizing petrological microscopes for detailed analyses of rocks, minerals and some fossils in thin section. We offer a fully equipped petrology lab with binocular and polarizing microscopes.

See more of the school's facilities here.

Field Trips

Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. We aim to show you as wide a range of field geology as possible. Current fieldtrips involve:

  • introductory field skills on the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast
  • geological mapping in Scotland
  • advanced fieldwork in Brittany
  • regional fieldwork in Cyprus

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

Field kit is free and 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.


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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

You are eminently employable and as a leading provider of applied geoscience graduates to industry we have an enviable employment record. Many career opportunities exist in petroleum and water resource exploration and development, mining, civil engineering, geographical and environmental consultancies, geographical surveys, museums and conservation, as well as research.

The communication, numeric and IT skills you will gain also make you a good candidate for business, commerce or education-oriented careers. A significant proportion of graduates also go on to postgraduate study.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • mining geologist
  • well-side geologist
  • geotechnical engineer
  • engineering geologist
  • geology teacher
  • researcher in volcanic hazards

Work experience

Work experience
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. Although field-based learning is intensive, needing you to draw on a wide range of theoretical and practical knowledge, it is immensely rewarding and, above all, fun.

Current destinations include the Isle of Wight, the Wessex basin, Scotland, Brittany and Cyprus. The opportunity exists to undertake your final-year project at a location of your choice, either in the UK or overseas.

Career planning

Career planning

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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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484