An integrated undergraduate and masters degree
Why take this course?
Our course is accredited by the Geological Society of London, and places great emphasis on practical learning and developing the transferable skills for employment as a professional palaeontologist/geoscientist.
You will learn in a friendly and supportive environment with a structured tutorial programme across all four years, excellent fieldwork opportunities, student-led extra-curricular activities, refurbished and re-equipped teaching facilities, and strong links with industry. All of these provide a broad-based degree experience that maximises career opportunities.
What will I experience?
The course covers all aspects of palaeontology, underpinned by general geoscientific and analytical principles. The school has extensive collections of fossil and geological specimens, and excellent teaching and analytical laboraties supported by recent investment.
On this course you can:
- Participate in an extensive fieldwork programme in the UK and abroad
- Get hands-on experience of modern analytical equipment in our new laboratories
- Complete an extended research project as preparation for a career in industry or further study
What opportunities might it lead to?
You will develop important problem-solving, communication and IT skills which will make you an excellent candidate for a wide range of careers. Recent graduates have been employed in the oil and gas industry, museum curation, teacher training, and progressed to Master's-level study and PhD research.
This course is accredited by The Geological Society. Accredited status provides added assurance to prospective students that a department's teaching is of the highest quality, and has been approved by an independent body of academics and industrialists. An accredited degree will reduce the amount of experience required for applications for Chartered Geologist and Chartered Scientist.
The University of Portsmouth has many opportunities for fieldtrips, with the Jurassic Coast a stone’s throw away.
Daniel Pedrosa, Geology student
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- UCAS Course Code:
- 4 years full time
- 2018 ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
120-128 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 40 points from a single Science subject, or 64 points from 2 Science subjects. 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
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*
Course is not eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan
2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400 p/a**
*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Programme specification
- Accreditations & Endorsements
Structure & Teaching
The first year assumes no prior knowledge of palaeontology and is designed to give a broad-based introduction to palaeontology and geology as well as an understanding of the applications of maths, IT, physics and chemistry to palaeontological and geological problems.
Core units in this year include:
- Biodiversity and Evolution
- Sedimentology and Palaeontology
- How The Earth Works
The second year focuses on developing core laboratory, IT and fieldwork skills prior to the project which is undertaken between years two and three.
Core units in this year include:
- Vertebrate Palaeontology I
- Palaeontological Techniques
- Micropalaeontology, Palaeobotany and Project Preparation
The third year develops broad concepts in palaeontology and provides focused tutorial support to assist the writing of the palaeontology project.
Core units in this year include:
- Palaeontology Project and Study Tour
Options to choose from in this year include:
- Vertebrate Palaeontology II
- Oceans, Climates and Environments
- Evolution and the Fossil Record
- Basin Analysis and Petroleum Geology
The fourth year involves an extended independent research project and training in advanced analytical techniques using state-of-the-art equipment in our new laboratories.
Core units in this year include:
- Advanced Analytical Techniques for Earth and Environmental Scientists
The wide variety of learning activities includes lectures, laboratory classes, field trips, tutorials (1:1 and group), seminars and independent project work. Staff have close links with industry and provide a dedicated career development programme.
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: 30% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 70% studying independently and 0% on work placement
- Year two students: 33% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 67% studying independently and 0% on work placement
- Year three students: 33% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 67% studying independently and 0% on work placement
- Year four students: 9% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 91% studying independently and 0% on work placement
You will be assessed in a variety of ways that are designed to develop your transferable skills in preparation for employment.
- Laboratory practical exercises
- Written exams
- Fieldwork exercises (e.g. maps, notebooks)
- Oral and poster presentations (individual and group)
- Independent project work
- 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: 55% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 32% by coursework
- Year two students: 29% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 63% by coursework
- Year three students: 39% by written exams, 5% by practical exams and 56% by coursework
- Year four students: 0% by written exams, 43% by practical exams and 57% by coursework
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.
Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. From excavations to palaeobiological data collection, current trips are to:
- the Isle of Wight
- Lulworth Cove
- Lyme Regis
- Osmington Mills
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.
Project work can be undertaken in collaboration with industry or abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange
Budgeting for your studies
There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
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.
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 £130.
Careers & Opportunities
Our course is accredited by the Geological Society of London, the main UK professional body for geoscientists, and focuses on developing the modern practical, technical and transferable skills that are essential for developing a successful career. Fieldwork skills are particularly valued by employers and our broad-based fieldwork programme ensures a high standard of training. In addition, our well-equipped laboratories and IT facilities are industry-standard meaning that you will be well-prepared for the workplace.
Roles our graduates have taken on include:
- Petroleum consultancy
- Museum curator
- School teacher in UK
- PhD student in Dublin
You will receive tutorial support in your first and second years to assist with finding a summer vacation placement. We provide a number of summer bursaries for students who wish to assist with research projects. Staff organise regular talks from palaeontologists from industry and other academic departments in addition to the formal teaching programme. The year 4 independent project may be taken in collaboration with industry.
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.