A huge sandy-coloured concrete dam holds back a body of blue water
Mode of Study
Part-time, full-time
Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Start Date
September 2023
Accredited
Yes

Overview

Apply your geological knowledge to engineering and construction projects both onshore and offshore with our MSc Engineering Geology degree.

Earth systems and environmental sciences at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 4th of all post-1992 universities for research quality

You'll learn the advanced skills needed to understand the impact of geological conditions on engineering structures such as tunnels, dams, mines, quarries, offshore platforms and wind farms. You'll plan and conduct detailed investigations into surface and subsurface geology to identify adverse ground conditions, and design suitable remedial measures for these types of structures.

Geological expertise is critical in all types of civil engineering projects – and when you graduate, you'll be able to meet the industry requirements for specialist engineering geologists. The course will lead to a career in the environmental, engineering geological and geotechnical sectors, and is an important step on the path to becoming a Chartered Geologist.

Scholarships for international students

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Learn about the advanced application of geology to the built environment from staff and researchers with extensive expertise in engineering geology and geotechnics.
  • Build the skills and knowledge required for a career as a chartered geologist.
  • Get hands-on experience of engineering geological mapping techniques, geomorphological and terrain analysis, applied GIS and remote sensing using current industry standard applications and techniques.
  • Become skilled in lab techniques using our suite of labs and testing facilities, including our soil and rock mechanics laboratories.
  • Develop your advanced engineering geological and geomorphological mapping and data collection skills with an overseas residential field trip to Southern France, which is part of the course and covered by the course fees.
  • Complete your own research project in the UK or abroad with opportunities to work with industrial partners on a joint project. Previous partners have included multinational engineering companies, SOCOTEC and Fugro.

Accredited by:

This course is accredited by the Geological Society of London. It offers advanced professional and scientific training, providing an accelerated route for you to attain Chartered Status, such as Chartered Geologist (CGeol) and Chartered Scientist (CSci) on graduation.
MSc Engineering Geology - Dr Nick Koor
Dr Nick Koor, course leader for MSc Engineering Geology talks about the benefits of studying the course at the University of Portsmouth.

Okay, my name is Nick Koor, and I lecture on the Master's degree in Engineering Geology at the University of Portsmouth.

The MSc in Engineering Geology is all about understanding geology and geological processes and then understanding that interaction with the built environment. A number of our students have opportunities to go and do placements with companies because we have a very, very good relationship with industry, that's one of our major strengths as a university and certainly as a school.

Take this MSc full time, so it's two days a week, Monday and Tuesday, or you can do it part time in two years. And we have quite a number of students that do that, particularly from the UK. So they're already working in the industry and they're just upskilling - they want to get their Master's degree so that they can progress professionally.

What you'll study on this MSc Engineering Geology degree course

Full-time

Modules studied

All modules on this MSc Engineering Geology are core.

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Define and evaluate the principles and framework of contaminated land investigation, remediation and redevelopment.
  • Categorise contaminated land within a geoscience and geoenvironmental framework.
  • Implement risk-based contaminated land investigation and design a conceptual site model
  • Assess and interpret evolving guidance and legislation relating to groundwater protection, and to understand and be able to evaluate source protection zones around abstraction wells.
  • Determine the relationship between groundwater quality and quantity and the implications for groundwater resource management.
  • Analyse and predict water quality implications in the context of groundwater pollution and its prevention.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Design integrated ground investigations and critically evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different ground investigation methods in different terrains.
  • Critically discuss and systematically compare the principal methods of geophysical and invasive ground investigation techniques.
  • Explain the concepts of a geotechnical risk register and critically evaluate their use in site investigations.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of geological history in site investigation and theoretically examine the engineering problems associated with specific terrains.
  • Systematically identify, map and evaluate geologically important features including slope failure, rock slopes, discontinuities, and geological structure according to type and age and anticipated geotechnical performance using remote sensing information and field based mapping techniques.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design and implement an advanced research project that is based upon the systematic collation, synthesis and analysis of primary data acquired by the student.
  • Prepare a comprehensive literature review and critically evaluate and discuss the research literature in the context of the students own research project.
  • Systematically analyse primary and/or secondary data using new skills and knowledge and use this new information to critically evaluate a clearly defined research hypothesis.
  • Undertake advanced analysis to generate new understandings and critically discuss these results in relation to identified limitations and within context of previous published research.
  • Report scientific results through different media including: thesis report written to a specified word limit using publication quality diagrams and figures.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically analyse the basic response of intact rock to changes in stress state.
  • Critically review the concepts of strength and deformability under a range of applied stress regimes, and be able to specify, analyse and interpret standard tests to characterise strength and deformability.
  • Analyse the strength and deformability of rock at a range of scales.
  • Collect and collate appropriate rock mass and discontinuity data and understand how this data informs rock engineering design in a range of contexts.
  • Identify, analyse and critically evaluate the nature, cause and prevention of stress induced failure in surface and underground excavations.
  • Identify, analyse and critically evaluate the nature, cause and prevention of structurally controlled failure in surface and underground excavations.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review the importance of the ground profile in geotechnical design and how this profile is developed.
  • Critically analyse complex ground data-sets to develop appropriate geological, ground and geotechnical models.
  • Analyse how soil characteristics are derived and be able to specify, analyse and interpret laboratory and field tests to appropriately characterise soil.
  • Critically analyse and evaluate soil behaviour in a range of engineering contexts.
  • Review the geotechnical design process and the role of design codes.

Explore this module

Part-time

Year 1
Year 2
All modules on this MSc Engineering Geology are core.

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Define and evaluate the principles and framework of contaminated land investigation, remediation and redevelopment.
  • Categorise contaminated land within a geoscience and geoenvironmental framework.
  • Implement risk-based contaminated land investigation and design a conceptual site model
  • Assess and interpret evolving guidance and legislation relating to groundwater protection, and to understand and be able to evaluate source protection zones around abstraction wells.
  • Determine the relationship between groundwater quality and quantity and the implications for groundwater resource management.
  • Analyse and predict water quality implications in the context of groundwater pollution and its prevention.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Design integrated ground investigations and critically evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different ground investigation methods in different terrains.
  • Critically discuss and systematically compare the principal methods of geophysical and invasive ground investigation techniques.
  • Explain the concepts of a geotechnical risk register and critically evaluate their use in site investigations.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of geological history in site investigation and theoretically examine the engineering problems associated with specific terrains.
  • Systematically identify, map and evaluate geologically important features including slope failure, rock slopes, discontinuities, and geological structure according to type and age and anticipated geotechnical performance using remote sensing information and field based mapping techniques.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically analyse the basic response of intact rock to changes in stress state.
  • Critically review the concepts of strength and deformability under a range of applied stress regimes, and be able to specify, analyse and interpret standard tests to characterise strength and deformability.
  • Analyse the strength and deformability of rock at a range of scales.
  • Collect and collate appropriate rock mass and discontinuity data and understand how this data informs rock engineering design in a range of contexts.
  • Identify, analyse and critically evaluate the nature, cause and prevention of stress induced failure in surface and underground excavations.
  • Identify, analyse and critically evaluate the nature, cause and prevention of structurally controlled failure in surface and underground excavations.

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review the importance of the ground profile in geotechnical design and how this profile is developed.
  • Critically analyse complex ground data-sets to develop appropriate geological, ground and geotechnical models.
  • Analyse how soil characteristics are derived and be able to specify, analyse and interpret laboratory and field tests to appropriately characterise soil.
  • Critically analyse and evaluate soil behaviour in a range of engineering contexts.
  • Review the geotechnical design process and the role of design codes.

Explore this module

All modules on this MSc Engineering Geology are core.
 

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design and implement an advanced research project that is based upon the systematic collation, synthesis and analysis of primary data acquired by the student.
  • Prepare a comprehensive literature review and critically evaluate and discuss the research literature in the context of the students own research project.
  • Systematically analyse primary and/or secondary data using new skills and knowledge and use this new information to critically evaluate a clearly defined research hypothesis.
  • Undertake advanced analysis to generate new understandings and critically discuss these results in relation to identified limitations and within context of previous published research.
  • Report scientific results through different media including: thesis report written to a specified word limit using publication quality diagrams and figures.

Explore this module

Changes to course content

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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Facilities

Scientist testing soils
A female student standing in front of hydraulic equipment in our Rock Mechanics Laboratory

Rock mechanics laboratory

Measure the strength and elasticity of minerals and rocks under simulated geological stress conditions using high-pressure hydraulic apparatus in this lab, and explore properties including fluid-flow permeability, rock and joint friction, and induced seismicity.

Learn more about the lab

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

This course offers potential for career advancement in a range of engineering and geological disciplines, or entry into more senior roles.

It builds on the topics that you'll have covered as part of undergraduate geology or civil engineering studies and offers the opportunity to specialise in geotechnical and geo environmental engineering.

Accreditation by the Geological Society of London recognises the advanced professional and scientific training offered by this course.

Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:

  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Geo environmental engineer
  • Geo environmental consultant
  • Geologist
  • Geoscientist
  • Geotechnical engineer
  • Land referencing consultant
  • Oil and gas engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Site engineer
  • Surveyor

Graduates of this course have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Aecon
  • WSP
  • Fugro
  • Structural Soils
  • Optikos
  • Hydrock Consultants

Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation.

I needed to specialise as it is more competitive now and having a Master’s helps me have an edge above the rest. The University has helped me build up my CV with relevant skills to my chosen career path.

Ezrin Shafii, MSc Engineering Geology

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and our Careers and Employability Centre – which you can access for up to 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Applied projects with employers
  • 1-to-1 appointments
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

Full-time (1 year)

  • On-campus, in-person teaching, 2 days per week
  • 10-20 hours independent learning per week, with support from extensive online materials

Part-time (2 years)

  • On-campus, in-person teaching, 1 day per week
  • 5-10 hours independent learning per week, with support from extensive online materials

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • workshops
  • fieldwork

We also organise networking and professional development opportunities, including a programme of visiting speakers from businesses and industry.

Assessment

You'll be assessed through:

  • coursework
  • poster and oral presentations
  • technical reports
  • lab reports
  • online tests
  • essays
  • examinations

You'll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Assessments are industry-relevant and designed to help with employability.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Dr Malcolm Whitworth, University of Portsmouth

Dr Malcolm Whitworth

I'm a Reader in Engineering Geomorphology and Natural Hazards. I'm also the MSc Engineering Geology, and MSc Geological and Environmental Hazards Course Leader.

I have extensive commercial experience in natural hazard assessment, terrain evaluation, gemorphological mapping, hazard assessment, GIS and remote sensing.

My current research projects include a study on the global distribution of natural hazards, landslide hazards assessment in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China using remote sensing and GIS, and numerical modelling of natural hazards – all of which feed directly into my teaching.

Read my full profile

Dr Nick Koor, University of Portsmouth

Dr Nick Koor

I'm a tutor and project supervisor on the BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology and Geotechnics and MSc Engineering Geology courses.

I've over twenty-years experience in the field of engineering geology and geotechnical engineering of which twelve years (1993-2005) were in Hong Kong.

My current research interests are hydraulic fracture mechanics, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) for engineering geology, and the charaterisation of hardended chalk in the north sea.

Read my full profile

Dr Andy Gibson, University of Portsmouth

Dr Andy Gibson

As an engineering geomorphologist, I'm interested in investiging and managing geological hazards, and adaptating to the impacts of climate change.

I’ve currently got active research projects looking at landslides in China, the geotechnical properties of the Hampshire Basin, and the impacts of geohazards on the UK economy and tourism industry.

Before joining the University in 2009, I was Chief Engineering Geologist and Head of Science (Land Use and Development) at the British Geological Survey.

Read my full profile

Dr Arash Azizi, University of Portsmouth

Dr Arash Azizi

I'm a lecturer on the MSc Engineering Geology course. I'm a tutor, a project supervisor and I coordinate the module, Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Design.

My research interests include the effects of climate change and environmental loads on sustainability and the resilience of the geo-infrastructure.

Before joining the University of Portsmouth, I was a Research Fellow at Durham University, and before that I completed my PhD in Structural, Seismic and Geotechnical Engieering in Milan

Read my full profile

Reading the Rocks

Listen to MSc Engineering Geology course leader, Dr Malcolm Whitworth, discuss the ways that he and his team study landscapes in order to predict and prepare for natural hazards, such as erosion or earthquakes as part of the Life Solved podcast series.

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK) for one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to:

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from the faculty librarian for science.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

The Maths Café offers free advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your maths skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2022 start)

  • Full-time: £9,400
  • Part-time: £4,700 per year

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full time: £9,400
  • Part time: £4,700 per year

  • Full time: £18,300
  • Part time: £9,150 per year

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

Environment, geography and geosciences scholarships

International students may be eligible for the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences (SEGG) Scholarship.

Find out if you're eligible and how to apply

International students may also be eligible for the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences (SEGG) Scholarship. Visit our page to find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Field trips: Travel and accommodation for the visit to Southern France is included in the course fee.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements​

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2023

  • A second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant Earth Science or Civil Engineering field such as Geology, Earth Science Civil Engineering or a related discipline. Applicants with industrial and work experience will also be considered.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

Apply now (Full-time) – 1 year

Apply now (Part-time) – 2 years

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.