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UCAS code

F643

Mode of Study

Full-time

Duration

3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement

Start date

September 2023

Accredited

Yes

Overview

Earth science is critical for understanding how our planet works, and how we can use its resources responsibly to ensure a sustainable future. It underpins current efforts to move to greener energy, understand and tackle the impacts of climate change, predict and plan against natural hazards, and to build safe, sustainable and resilient cities. 

On this Earth science degree course, you'll follow one of three pathways at the end of your first year:

  • Geology
  • Engineering geology
  • Environmental geology

These pathways will provide you with the skills for a career across the diverse Earth science space, either by direct entry to the workplace or by taking one of our applied Earth science Master's degrees.

The UK government has pledged to train the next generation of miners, geologists and engineers in the UK’s new Critical Minerals Strategy (Gov.uk), and lists a number of Earth science related roles in its Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List in this field (DavidsonMorris). Roles in this sector are expected to increase given that Earth scientists will be at the forefront of the energy transition and ensuring human interaction with the natural environment and its resources is sustainable.

Exit Awards

When you successfully complete the course you’ll graduate with one of the following degrees, depending on the modules you choose in your second and third years.

Volcanic eruption at night, close-up

BSc (Hons) Geology

Geology is the study of the earth beneath our feet – 4.5 billion years of rich and fascinating history. On this pathway, you’ll examine the immense natural processes that have shaped our planet's evolution through geological time, including tectonics, climate change and natural hazards.

Geologists work to understand, locate and sustainably manage the earth's resources. By learning how the earth's natural resources were formed, you'll develop skills essential to addressing global challenges and transitioning towards a green economy.

FOR ENGINEERING GEOLOGY ONLY

BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology

As the only engineering degree taught in science anywhere in the UK, this course will enable you to apply geoscience to the built environments of the future.

On this pathway, you’ll learn the fundamentals of geological science and develop the technical expertise to work on the design and construction of tunnels, roads, dams, and surface and underground mine excavations, at a university where engineering geology and geotechnics have been taught for more than 50 years.

Aerial view of a field

BSc (Hons) Environmental Geology

Environmental geologists investigate the interface between the solid earth and the environment, understanding the fundamentals of geological sciences and focusing on how Earth’s climate has evolved through geological time.

On this pathway you will learn a unique and diverse set of skills critical to many modern day environmental issues, including renewable energies, the shift to a low carbon economy, water resource management and environmental mitigation and remediation of industrial land.

Find out more about Earth science at Portsmouth

Take a look at our animated explainer video to find out more about what you'll study, what pathway to choose and what careers this course could lead to.

Earth science is the study of how our planet works, how we can use its resources responsibly to ensure a sustainable future, and how we can plan and build resilient cities and structures in safe and sustainable ways. Our course is being co-designed with industry to provide the most important skills that employers want to see in graduates working in the geological, engineering and environmental sectors.

The Earth sciences degree has three pathways. In first year, you will cover Earth history the fundamentals of rocks, minerals and fossils, how engineering geologists help engineer the built environment. At the end of the first year, you'll get to specialise in one of the three pathways geology, engineering geology and environmental geology.

In the geology pathway, you’ll marvel at the wonders of our planet. From Earth’s earliest beginnings to the present day, the processes that have enabled life to evolve and flourish. You will explore how we can study the Earth and other planets to predict how the Earth may change in the future. Preparing you for a variety of careers, including sustainable management of our Earth's resources.

The engineering geology pathway will prepare you for a career working in the engineering geology and geotechnics industries. As an engineering geology graduate, you will be highly employable and sought after and get a job helping to engineer large scale infrastructure projects such as offshore wind and nuclear power stations, with options to work across the world.

On the environmental geology pathway, you'll learn about the interface between our Earth and the environment and innovative solutions for the sustainable management of our planet.

Preparing you for a variety of geo-environmental careers on all the pathways students will get the chance to undertake an industrial placement. Students learn invaluable real world skills that put them ahead in the job market when they graduate an Earth Science degree will facilitate fantastic careers across the Earth science space either by moving straight into industry or taking one of our highly acclaimed applied Earth science Master's degrees.

All the pathways have exciting opportunities to get outside and study our amazing planet in the field. We look forward to seeing you soon here at the University of Portsmouth.

Course highlights

  • Boost your professional experience by doing a work placement
  • Conduct experiments in our Earth science labs, stocked with industry-standard Leica polarising microscopes, laser ablation geochemistry and electron microscopes
  • Examine rocks, minerals and fossils from our extensive collection
  • Develop essential skills on our fantastic field trips to world-class geological locations such as Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands, Cyprus and France, and explore local south coast geology on field trips to the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast in Dorset
  • Receive financial and placement support through our industrial bursary scheme on the Engineering Geology pathway

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

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our amazing earth systems and environmental sciences research

Entry requirements

BSc (Hons) Earth Science

Typical offers
  • A levels – ABB–BBC
  • UCAS points – 112–128 points, with 32 points from a Science subject (Applied Science, Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics) (calculate your UCAS points)
  • T levels – Merit. Acceptable T level subjects include Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning, Health, Healthcare Science, and Science
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM

You may need to have studied specific subjects – see full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept

English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.

If you don't 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.

If you don't meet the entry requirements, you may be able to join this course after you successfully complete a foundation year.

Facilities and specialist equipment

Female student using microscope

Petrology laboratory

Study the fundamental properties of rocks and minerals in our state-of-the-art petrological microscope lab, equipped with modern Leica petrology polarising microscopes.

Aerial view of scenic Greenland Glaciers and icebergs

GIS and remote sensing lab

Discover more about the planet's physical structures and scientific processes, such as glaciers and coastal flooding, using drone data, aerial and satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems.

Explore the lab

Scientist testing soils

Geotechnics laboratory

Gain experience with fully automated testing equipment and kit for characterising fine and coarse grained soils in our geotechnics lab, also known as the soils lab.

Find out more about the lab

Burnaby June 2019

Mass spectrometry and laser ablation lab

Investigate the geological and planetary processes that influence environment change and natural resource formation in this lab, using our industry standard spectrometers and laser ablation system.

Learn more about the lab

Laser ablation sample cell

Electron microscopy and microanalysis unit

Develop your practice in high-magnification imaging and analysis of natural and manufactured materials with microscopy, diffraction, laser-ablation and mass spectrometry equipment.

Learn more about the unit

Burnaby Building 2019 - Instron ECS Rig

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

Field work

You'll have lots of opportunities to do field work on your geology degree, in locations in the UK and overseas.

Click on an image below to view it in more detail and learn more about the geology field work our previous students have taken part in.

We also work to make all field trips as accessible as possible and to provide virtual field trip alternatives for those unable to get out in the field.

The field work 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

Careers and opportunities

Careers in geology, engineering geology and environmental geology are particularly buoyant at present with demand being driven by large infrastructure projects (HS2), offshore wind projects, and nuclear power station construction. This means geologists are in high demand – in 2020, the role of geologist was added to the UK shortage occupation list.

Graduates from this course will be equipped with the skills and understanding to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the planet, such as finding and extracting natural resources, planning safe and responsible building projects, understanding past and future climate change, predicting natural hazards, and helping develop resilient cities and infrastructure.

Graduates would be equipped to seek employment in the following sectors: energy and resource exploration, geothermal, environmental monitoring and management, geotechnical engineering, engineering geology, natural hazard mitigation, teaching, or further academic research.

Graduates could progress onto Master’s level study, postgraduate teaching qualification, work towards Chartered Geologist status, or enter graduate-level employment in the sectors noted above. Our graduates would enter the job market as graduate geologists, engineering geologists, environmental geologists, mining geologists, and geotechnical engineers.

What jobs can you do with an Earth science degree?

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • mining geologist
  • well-site geologist
  • geotechnical engineer
  • geographical information system (GIS) mapper 
  • offshore geophysicist
  • engineering geologist
  • mineral exploration geologist
  • geo-environmental engineer
  • contaminated land technician
  • teacher

Graduate destinations

Organisations our graduates have gone on to work in include:

  • GEA
  • Gardline
  • SOCOTEC
  • Global Map Aid
  • National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • Land Referencing Services (LRS)
  • Hydrock
  • Ordnance Survey
  • Aggregate Industries UK
  • Leap Environmental
  • Hummingbird Resources
Female student at computer

Ongoing career support – up to 5 years after you graduate

Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.

Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.

Futureproof your career

Hear from Engineering Geology and Geotechnics graduate, Olivia

Olivia is a Design Engineer at AKT II, having graduated in 2019 with an Engineering Geology and Geotechnics degree from the University of Portsmouth.

Find out what Olivia's role entails and how she’s applying the skills she learnt during her time studying with us.

Placement year

After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry. Placements give you the opportunity to apply what you've learnt so far in a real workplace, boosting your employability and making you attractive to employers after graduation.

You can work for a company or organisation here in the UK or overseas, or you could go independent by setting up and running your own business with other students.

Students have completed work placements at top organisations, including Shell and Structural Soils.

Whichever route you choose, you'll receive support and guidance. Our specialist team of science and health careers advisors can help you with finding a work placement and improving your employability skills. They'll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including help with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement year.

Study abroad

You'll also have the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner universities. Studying overseas is a fantastic opportunity to enhance your CV and experience a different culture as an international student.

Many of our students describe their time spent studying abroad as truly life-changing, as well as an excellent way to stand out to future employers.

What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Geology degree

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.

BSc (Hons) Geology pathway

Core modules

  • Engineering Geology and Geohazards – 20 credits
  • How the Earth Works – 20 credits
  • Earth Materials – 20 credits
  • Sedimentology and Palaeontology – 20 credits
  • Global Environmental Challenges – 20 credits
  • Analysis of the Earth and Environment – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

Core modules

  • Professional Skills and Careers – 20 credits
  • GIS and Remote Sensing – 20 credits
  • Structural Geology – 20 credits
  • Sedimentary Processes and Facies Analysis – 20 credits
  • Dynamic Earth – 20 credits

Optional modules

  • Hydrogeology – 20 credits
  • Volcanoes – 20 credits

Optional year in industry – 120 credit module

An optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years will give you valuable experience of working in industry. We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

Core modules

  • Earth Science Project – 40 credits
  • Earth Science in the workplace – 20 credits
  • Mineral Resources and Exploration – 20 credits

Optional modules

  • Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology – 20 credits
  • Geohazard Risk Management – 20 credits
  • Hazardscapes – 20 credits
  • Earth evolution and plate tectonics – 20 credits
  • Oceans, Climates and Environments – 20 credits
  • Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits
  • Analytical Methods for Earth and Environmental Sciences – 20 credits
  • Applications of Palaeontology and Sedimentology – 20 credits

BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology pathway

Core modules

  • Engineering Geology and Geohazards – 20 credits
  • How the Earth Works – 20 credits
  • Earth Materials – 20 credits
  • Sedimentology and Palaeontology – 20 credits
  • Global Environmental Challenges – 20 credits
  • Analysis of the Earth and Environment – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

Core modules

  • Professional Skills and Careers – 20 credits
  • GIS and Remote Sensing – 20 credits
  • Hydrogeology – 20 credits
  • Terrain Evaluation – 20 credits
  • Structural Geology – 20 credits
  • Engineering Geology of Soil and Rocks – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

Optional year in industry – 120 credit module

An optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years will give you valuable experience of working in industry. We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

Core modules

  • Earth Science Project – 40 credits
  • Earth Science in the workplace – 20 credits
  • Ground Engineering – 20 credits
  • Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology – 20 credits
  • Geohazard Risk Management – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

BSc (Hons) Environmental Geology pathway

Core modules

  • Engineering Geology and Geohazards – 20 credits
  • How the Earth Works – 20 credits
  • Earth Materials – 20 credits
  • Sedimentology and Palaeontology – 20 credits
  • Global Environmental Challenges – 20 credits
  • Analysis of the Earth and Environment – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

Core modules

  • Professional Skills and Careers – 20 credits
  • GIS and Remote Sensing – 20 credits
  • Hydrogeology – 20 credits
  • Terrain Evaluation – 20 credits
  • Energy Resources and the science of zero carbon – 20 credits
  • Environmental chemistry and monitoring – 20 credits

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in this year.

Optional year in industry – 120 credit module

An optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years will give you valuable experience of working in industry. We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

Core modules

  • Earth Science Project – 40 credits
  • Earth Science in the workplace – 20 credits
  • Environmental Assessment and Management – 20 credits

Optional modules

  • Geohazard Risk Management – 20 credits
  • Earth evolution and plate tectonics – 20 credits
  • Oceans, Climates and Environments – 20 credits
  • Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits
  • Environmental pollution and waste management – 20 credits
  • Analytical Methods for Earth and Environmental Sciences – 20 credits
  • The Green Economy – 20 credits
  • Climate Change – 20 credits
  • European Study Tour – 20 credits
  • Tropical Study Tour – 20 credits

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.

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

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

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.

Teaching

Teaching is mostly delivered as face to face classes, with some hybrid learning (where some materials are provided in a digital format, and then further explored in a subsequent face to face class). All teaching materials and assessment instructions are uploaded to our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Teaching is delivered in a variety of settings, including lecture theatres, laboratories, IT classrooms and on fieldtrips.

As well as being highly-qualified academics, our teaching team are all experts in their respective fields, and many are either actively involved with or have worked in the relevant industry sectors.

Teaching staff profiles

You'll be taught by enthusiastic lecturers with a wealth of geological experience and expertise. Many are involved in cutting-edge research in their fields which they weave into their teaching.

These are some of the expert staff who’ll teach you on this degree course.

Nicholas Paul Koor Portrait

Dr Nick Koor

Reader in Geological Engineering

Nick.Koor@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Catherine Mary Mottram Portrait

Dr Catherine Mottram

Senior Lecturer

catherine.mottram@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Andrew David Gibson Portrait

Dr Andy Gibson

Associate Head (Academic)

Andy.Gibson@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment Geography and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Maria Del Carmen Solana Portrait

Dr Carmen Solana

Reader in Volcanology and Risk Communications

Carmen.Solana@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Malcolm Christopher Zordan Whitworth Portrait

Dr Malcolm Whitworth

Reader in Engineering Geomorphology and Natural Hazards

Malcolm.Whitworth@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more
James Richard Darling Portrait

Dr James Darling

Associate Head (Research and Innovation)

James.Darling@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment Geography and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more

How you'll spend your time

One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.

We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.

A typical week

We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your Earth Science degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, practical classes and workshops and fieldwork for about 16.5 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.

Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.

Term dates

The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.

See term dates

Supporting your learning

The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get 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).

ASK provides 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 a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

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

The Maths Café offers 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.

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.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2023 start)

  • UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £19,200 (subject to annual increase)     

 

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

FOR ENGINEERING GEOLOGY ONLY

If you follow the BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology pathway, you might be eligible to apply for an industrial bursary.

If successful, you'll be awarded:

  • a bursary of £1,750 in your first, second and final year
  • an 8-week paid work placement after year 1
  • a 44-week paid work placement after year 2

Additional course 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

Our accommodation section show your accommodation options and highlight how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

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

 

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.

Your travel and accommodation costs for compulsory fieldwork are included in the course fee, with the exception of the Mapping Training Field Course, which takes place around the UK in the summer between the first and second year of study. Travel and accommodation for the Mapping Training Field Course costs around £100. You’ll also need to pay for meals and other living costs on compulsory fieldwork trips.

You’ll need to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, meals and other living costs for any optional fieldwork you do. These costs are normally around £1,200.

For compulsory project work, normally in the UK or Europe, costs for travel and accommodation will range from £0–£1,000.

During your placement year or study abroad year, you’ll be eligible for a discounted rate on your tuition fees. Currently, this discount amounts to 90% of the year’s fees.

Tuition fees for that year are:

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £925 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £925 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £1,800 a year (subject to annual increase)

The costs associated with your specific destination will be discussed during your second year, as well as possible sources of additional funding.

Apply

How to apply

To start this course in 2023, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

  • the UCAS course code – F643
  • our institution code – P80

If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.

You can also sign up to an Open Day to:

  • Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
  • Speak with lecturers and chat with our students 
  • Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join

If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.

How to apply from outside the UK

See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can 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.

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.