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Earth Science BSc (Hons)

Develop your knowledge of geology and environmental engineering on this earth science degree to understand how our planet works and how we can use its resources responsibly to ensure a sustainable future.

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University of Portsmouth Connected Degree - 3 year course with 4th year placement

Key information

UCAS code:

F643

Typical offer:

112-120 UCAS points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 32 UCAS points from a specific Science subject

See full entry requirements
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Overview

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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

Contact information

Admissions

+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

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Connected Degrees®

Only at Portsmouth you have the choice to take a traditional sandwich placement before your third year, or to take your placement after your final year.

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Clearing 2024 opens on 5 July and closes on 21 October

Every year thousands of students find their ideal undergraduate course through Clearing. Clearing matches students who are looking for a different course or university from their original choice, or who are applying for the very first time after 30 June, to courses that universities still have places on.

The majority of people apply through Clearing once they receive their exam results on A level / T level results day (15 August 2024).

You can apply through Clearing if:

  • You don't meet the conditions of your offer for your firm (first) or insurance (second) choice courses
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  • You're applying for the first time after 30 June 2024 

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Yes, we welcome Clearing applications from international students and you can apply in exactly the same way as UK students do. 

The majority of UK students apply through Clearing once they receive their A level / T level results in August 2024, so as an international student if you already have your exam results you can apply when Clearing opens. 

Make sure that you have time to get your visa, funding, and English language certification sorted out before the beginning of term.

If you would like further information or guidance, please contact our international office for advice. 

The entry requirements for courses can change in Clearing but if you want an idea of what grades we usually accept, take a look at our undergraduate course pages.

Even if you don't quite meet the entry requirements, we'd still encourage you to apply as you could still get a place.

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Entry requirements

BSc (Hons) Earth Science

Typical offers

  • A levels - BBB-BBC
  • UCAS points - 112-120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, 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:
    T Level in Health, T Level in Healthcare Science, T Level in Science 
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM-DMM
  • International Baccalaureate - 25

You may need to have studied specific subjects – find 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.

Typical offers

  • A levels - BBB-BBC
  • UCAS points - 112-120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, 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:
    T Level in Health, T Level in Healthcare Science, T Level in Science 
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM-DMM
  • International Baccalaureate - 25

You may need to have studied specific subjects or GCSEs - 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.

We look at more than just your grades

While we consider your grades when making an offer, we also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential. These include whether you live and work in the region and your personal and family circumstances which we assess using established data.

Explore more about how we make your offer

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.

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.

I'm Olivia Houghton and my role is a Design Engineer.

I went to study Engine and Geology because I always knew I enjoyed maths and I really liked environmental sciences.

When I had a firm look into the degree, it looked really interesting.

You can go into a lot of different paths so you can work in construction or renewables or project management.

I think for me, that's why I wanted to pick it.

When picking a degree, the most important thing is being passionate about it and enjoying it because you spend the three or four years there learning it and if you don't enjoy it, it's just going to be a long ride.

When I went to the open day, I got a really good vibe from it.

The city is really nice, obviously it's by the beach as well.

Then also, the lecturers are really nice and really welcoming.

They also work a lot in the industry as well themselves so they have a really good knowledge of everything.

They explained the course really well and made it seem it's going to be an enjoyable so I just went for it.

During my industrial placement at uni, I worked for GEOtechnical and Environmental Associates.

I first worked with them in the summer between first and second year for two months and then I worked with them again between second and third year for a year.

One of the main things I took from my placement year is just how important it is to get the experience because you can go to uni and learn academics and learn everything in the three years, but actually applying it to an actual job is a completely different situation, and it makes you kind of understand what you're doing more at uni.

I think as well, I enjoyed third year a lot more because I kind of understood what I was learning and why I was learning it and also everyone who done a placement year has got better grades because obviously you've done it and you've applied it, so you know what you're talking about more.

When I get the train home, I always go through Liverpool Street and it's nice knowing that my company and I helped design this and also the building we work in as well.

My company designed this as well.

So this is nice knowing that the company I work for is doing really exciting projects and cool things.

I think my most proud moment of my journey is probably getting the job I'm in now.

When I first graduated, I never thought I was going to work for a company like this, working on the projects I do.

For me, coming here every day in a really cool office, working in a really cool job is my proudest moment.

Placement year

After your second or third 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.

Modules

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

All modules in this year are core.

You’ll think about Earth science in terms of a global, integrated, system. You’ll become familiar with basic physics, chemistry, and mathematics and IT skills, including a basic introduction to programming, data analysis and visualisation.

You’ll explore the physical and optical properties of the common rock-forming minerals, and the importance of minerals to society today. You’ll get an introduction to a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and learn about their classification, compositions and textures. You’ll also relate these aspects to the potential origins of the rocks and their setting within the global tectonic framework.

Using a portfolio of case studies, you’ll learn how to identify a range of geological hazards, as well as the natural and man-made factors that influence them. You’ll explore solutions to reduce the impact of these hazards, and get to grips with the basics of rock behaviour and mechanics.

Through case studies, in-depth lectures and workshops, you’ll think about the nature and extent of human impact on the environment, and learn about the complexities of managing environmental, population and resource change at local and global levels.

Why do continents drift? What forces build majestic mountain ranges? Explore these questions and more on this module. You’ll explore theories on the origin of the Solar System and the Earth while looking into the origin and nature of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and their circulation systems. Learn to describe methods of measuring geological tim and investigate the main processes that characterise the major periods of the Earth's history. You’ll get to grips with the basic building blocks of the Earth's crust and get an introduction to the rocks and minerals that make up common igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. You’ll also learn how to read and interpret geological maps, and discover the techniques used for observation and recording geological data.

You’ll learn about important invertebrate fossil groups and their applications, sedimentary materials and processes, and the geological history of our planet. Topics you’ll cover include the principles of palaeontological concepts, an introduction to fossil groups such as trilobites and ammonites, the sedimentary rock cycle and principal sedimentary processes, and the geological history of the British Isles.

Core modules

You’ll learn about the processes by which important igneous rocks are generated from parental magmas, and how to use chemical and physical criteria and experimental data to interpret metamorphic rocks. You’ll also discover how to demonstrate the nature of geological processes from the mineralogy, textures and structures of igneous and metamorphic rocks.

You’ll learn core theory underpinning GIS and RS, before applying the theory through the use of industry standard software. You’ll explore the capture, interpretation and analysis of geographical and environmental data from a variety of sources to explore 'real world' problems and challenges.

You’ll develop a wide range of vocational and transferable professional skills in communication, interpersonal and teamwork. You’ll think about the needs of employers and the career skills that enhance employability, and learn the field techniques and methods required of professional geoscientists.

On this module, you’ll explore how a broad range of modern continental and marine environments produce different sedimentary facies. You’ll broaden your practical and field sedimentological skills and learn how to in apply your knowledge to making palaeoenvironmental deductions.

From this, you'll learn the important implications for managing geological hazards and understand rock strength for engineering purposes. You'll study how and why rocks deform, and how different types of rocks respond to stress at different depths in the earth's crust. You’ll evaluate the mechanisms involved in the formation of tectonic structures and their implications for large-scale crustal deformation. Develop critical 3D spatial thinking skills, using a range of tools including fieldwork, geological maps, remote sensing, modelling and seismic interpretation to visualise and interpret 3D geological structures.

Optional modules

You’ll explore the physical and chemical properties of water – aquifers, groundwater recharge, storage, and interactions with surface hydrology. You’ll look at the transport of water and contaminants through the groundwater system. You’ll cover concepts of fluid mechanics and Darcy’s law to help you understand flow through porous media. You’ll also cover applications of hydrogeology in engineering and environmental management.

You’ll focus on understanding volcanoes as systems, examining mantle-to-surface magmatic processes and how to identify key volcanic rocks and minerals. You’ll explore volcano-sedimentary sequences alongside geochemical and isotopic data to understand volcanic eruptive histories and magmatic evolution over time. Finally, you’ll also consider the plethora of volcanic hazards and risks alongside risk management strategies as well as other human-volcano interactions.

Core modules

You’ll work in a team to collect and synthesise data with support from industrial consultants. You’ll then analyse your data to produce a project explaining the geological, engineering geological and environmental constraints and issues associated with your project and how these can be overcome.

You’ll cover topics including mineral resource types and importance, exploration methods, mining methods, environmental consequences associated with mining, and the geology of ore deposits. By the end of the module, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to contribute your own ideas to the resource problems currently facing society.

Supported by your Academic Tutor, you'll select and manage information and competently undertake research tasks. You'll assess health and safety, the ethical considerations in pursuing independent research, and critically evaluate your findings against knowledge in available academic literature. You'll learn to discuss and communicate your key findings found from your research and write a dissertation in accordance with academic conventions.

Optional modules

You’ll gain an understanding of modern analytical methods used in Earth and Environmental sciences, ranging from project design and the choice of laboratory techniques, through to data collection, evaluation and interpretation. You’ll also get hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art laboratories for environmental chemistry, geochemistry, mineralogy and microscopy.

You’ll look at employment prospects including postgraduate study and research, public engagement, and the commercial sector. You’ll also get training and experience in how palaeontological and sedimentological data may be used as problem-solving tools including, but not limited to, biostratigraphy and sedimentary basin analysis.

Spanning from major changes in lithospheric processes in the Hadean to Proterozoic, to in-depth studies of modern plate-tectonics, you’ll get an overview of topics at the forefront of geological science. You’ll also learn how to integrate specialist knowledge in order to address a wide-range of geological problems.

Attention is given to techniques and strategies for hazard identification and risk assessment. A framework for understanding contemporary hazards will be developed through theoretical reviews, case histories and/or practical examples.

You’ll consider these hazards from a number of angles, including how these are expressed upon landscapes, the nature of natural hazards through a range of spatial and temporal scales, and the effect these have on past and present human populations and civilisations. You’ll look at geophysical hazards like earthquakes, biological hazards such as pandemics, hydrological hazards like droughts, climatological hazards such as wildfires, and anthropological hazards like nuclear war.

You’ll get familiar with the big issues and contemporary debates in education studies as well as the role and expectations of a teacher.

You’ll develops fundamental knowledge and skills that teachers require, as well as your capability to structure and critique a lesson plan.

On this module, you’ll study Quaternary geology - the branch of geology that studies developments from 2.58 million years ago to the present day. You’ll investigate past environments and associated landform-sediment assemblages of relevance to engineering geologists, geologists and geographers, including glacial and periglacial ground models, fluvial sediments and interglacial environments.

Boost your employability by taking an industry-based work placement year with a relevant organisation or immerse yourself in another culture by studying for a year at one of our partner universities worldwide.

This is an amazing opportunity to either put everything you’ve learned so far into action in a real workplace or expand your horizons and set yourself up for your future career by studying abroad and becoming a student ambassador for our university.

Depending on what you choose, we’ll help you find and secure an exciting placement opportunity within an appropriate company or organisation, or you’ll expand your global perspective and develop additional skills to boost your future career during a study abroad year.

This is a Connected Degree

We're the only university that gives you the flexibility to choose when to take a work placement. Take it after your 2nd year, before returning to finish your studies. Or after your final year, connecting you into the workplace.

If you're not sure if or when to take your placement, don't worry. You'll have plenty of time to settle into your studies and explore your options before making your choice. 

Find out more about Connected Degrees

BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology pathway

Core modules

All modules in this year are core.

You’ll think about Earth science in terms of a global, integrated, system. You’ll become familiar with basic physics, chemistry, and mathematics and IT skills, including a basic introduction to programming, data analysis and visualisation.

You’ll explore the physical and optical properties of the common rock-forming minerals, and the importance of minerals to society today. You’ll get an introduction to a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and learn about their classification, compositions and textures. You’ll also relate these aspects to the potential origins of the rocks and their setting within the global tectonic framework.

Using a portfolio of case studies, you’ll learn how to identify a range of geological hazards, as well as the natural and man-made factors that influence them. You’ll explore solutions to reduce the impact of these hazards, and get to grips with the basics of rock behaviour and mechanics.

Through case studies, in-depth lectures and workshops, you’ll think about the nature and extent of human impact on the environment, and learn about the complexities of managing environmental, population and resource change at local and global levels.

Why do continents drift? What forces build majestic mountain ranges? Explore these questions and more on this module. You’ll explore theories on the origin of the Solar System and the Earth while looking into the origin and nature of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and their circulation systems. Learn to describe methods of measuring geological tim and investigate the main processes that characterise the major periods of the Earth's history. You’ll get to grips with the basic building blocks of the Earth's crust and get an introduction to the rocks and minerals that make up common igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. You’ll also learn how to read and interpret geological maps, and discover the techniques used for observation and recording geological data.

You’ll learn about important invertebrate fossil groups and their applications, sedimentary materials and processes, and the geological history of our planet. Topics you’ll cover include the principles of palaeontological concepts, an introduction to fossil groups such as trilobites and ammonites, the sedimentary rock cycle and principal sedimentary processes, and the geological history of the British Isles.

Core modules

All modules in this year are core.

You’ll find out why the accurate logging of soil and rock is so important to engineering standards, and learn the concepts of simple saturated soil mechanics. Through lectures, laboratory work and field work, you’ll develop the basic knowledge you’ll need for your placement in the ground engineering sector.

You’ll learn core theory underpinning GIS and RS, before applying the theory through the use of industry standard software. You’ll explore the capture, interpretation and analysis of geographical and environmental data from a variety of sources to explore 'real world' problems and challenges.

You’ll explore the physical and chemical properties of water – aquifers, groundwater recharge, storage, and interactions with surface hydrology. You’ll look at the transport of water and contaminants through the groundwater system. You’ll cover concepts of fluid mechanics and Darcy’s law to help you understand flow through porous media. You’ll also cover applications of hydrogeology in engineering and environmental management.

You’ll develop a wide range of vocational and transferable professional skills in communication, interpersonal and teamwork. You’ll think about the needs of employers and the career skills that enhance employability, and learn the field techniques and methods required of professional geoscientists.

From this, you'll learn the important implications for managing geological hazards and understand rock strength for engineering purposes. You'll study how and why rocks deform, and how different types of rocks respond to stress at different depths in the earth's crust. You’ll evaluate the mechanisms involved in the formation of tectonic structures and their implications for large-scale crustal deformation. Develop critical 3D spatial thinking skills, using a range of tools including fieldwork, geological maps, remote sensing, modelling and seismic interpretation to visualise and interpret 3D geological structures.

You’ll study different terrains, where they occur and how they affect societies. Develop techniques of terrain evaluation and the key ideas and skills required to undertake investigations at different scales. You’ll also think about the social and professional role of the professional geoscientist.

Core modules

All modules in this year are core

You’ll work in a team to collect and synthesise data with support from industrial consultants. You’ll then analyse your data to produce a project explaining the geological, engineering geological and environmental constraints and issues associated with your project and how these can be overcome.

Attention is given to techniques and strategies for hazard identification and risk assessment. A framework for understanding contemporary hazards will be developed through theoretical reviews, case histories and/or practical examples.

You’ll build on what you’ve already learned to explore the practical and design skills required of a professional Engineering Geologist. You’ll consider the theoretical and practical basis for the assessment of engineering geological and ground water conditions and how they affect the construction process and techniques used. Take part in site visits to active construction sites and hear from industry speakers.

On this module, you’ll study Quaternary geology - the branch of geology that studies developments from 2.58 million years ago to the present day. You’ll investigate past environments and associated landform-sediment assemblages of relevance to engineering geologists, geologists and geographers, including glacial and periglacial ground models, fluvial sediments and interglacial environments.

Supported by your Academic Tutor, you'll select and manage information and competently undertake research tasks. You'll assess health and safety, the ethical considerations in pursuing independent research, and critically evaluate your findings against knowledge in available academic literature. You'll learn to discuss and communicate your key findings found from your research and write a dissertation in accordance with academic conventions.

Boost your employability by taking an industry-based work placement year with a relevant organisation or immerse yourself in another culture by studying for a year at one of our partner universities worldwide.

This is an amazing opportunity to either put everything you’ve learned so far into action in a real workplace or expand your horizons and set yourself up for your future career by studying abroad and becoming a student ambassador for our university.

Depending on what you choose, we’ll help you find and secure an exciting placement opportunity within an appropriate company or organisation, or you’ll expand your global perspective and develop additional skills to boost your future career during a study abroad year.

This is a Connected Degree

We're the only university that gives you the flexibility to choose when to take a work placement. Take it after your 2nd year, before returning to finish your studies. Or after your final year, connecting you into the workplace.

If you're not sure if or when to take your placement, don't worry. You'll have plenty of time to settle into your studies and explore your options before making your choice. 

Find out more about Connected Degrees

BSc (Hons) Environmental Geology pathway

Core modules

All modules in this year are core.

You’ll think about Earth science in terms of a global, integrated, system. You’ll become familiar with basic physics, chemistry, and mathematics and IT skills, including a basic introduction to programming, data analysis and visualisation.

You’ll explore the physical and optical properties of the common rock-forming minerals, and the importance of minerals to society today. You’ll get an introduction to a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and learn about their classification, compositions and textures. You’ll also relate these aspects to the potential origins of the rocks and their setting within the global tectonic framework.

Using a portfolio of case studies, you’ll learn how to identify a range of geological hazards, as well as the natural and man-made factors that influence them. You’ll explore solutions to reduce the impact of these hazards, and get to grips with the basics of rock behaviour and mechanics.

Through case studies, in-depth lectures and workshops, you’ll think about the nature and extent of human impact on the environment, and learn about the complexities of managing environmental, population and resource change at local and global levels.

Why do continents drift? What forces build majestic mountain ranges? Explore these questions and more on this module. You’ll explore theories on the origin of the Solar System and the Earth while looking into the origin and nature of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and their circulation systems. Learn to describe methods of measuring geological tim and investigate the main processes that characterise the major periods of the Earth's history. You’ll get to grips with the basic building blocks of the Earth's crust and get an introduction to the rocks and minerals that make up common igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. You’ll also learn how to read and interpret geological maps, and discover the techniques used for observation and recording geological data.

You’ll learn about important invertebrate fossil groups and their applications, sedimentary materials and processes, and the geological history of our planet. Topics you’ll cover include the principles of palaeontological concepts, an introduction to fossil groups such as trilobites and ammonites, the sedimentary rock cycle and principal sedimentary processes, and the geological history of the British Isles.

Core modules

You’ll explore the fundamental principles of low carbon energy - nuclear, solar, wind and hydro power. You’ll also think about the health effects of environmental radiation, and the fundamental principles of heat transfer and household energy saving technologies.

You’ll learn about the chemical principles behind the Earth's biogeochemical cycles, atmosphere, water resources and soils. Discover monitoring techniques and the analysis of the natural environment. Through group activities and hands-on-practical work, you’ll gain an understanding of varying methods used in analytical environmental chemistry.

You’ll learn core theory underpinning GIS and RS, before applying the theory through the use of industry standard software. You’ll explore the capture, interpretation and analysis of geographical and environmental data from a variety of sources to explore 'real world' problems and challenges.

You’ll develop a wide range of vocational and transferable professional skills in communication, interpersonal and teamwork. You’ll think about the needs of employers and the career skills that enhance employability, and learn the field techniques and methods required of professional geoscientists.

Optional modules

You'll be introduced to and engage in a number of quantitative data collection exercises. This will help develop your ability to work in a team and to collect, collate and record environmental data. It will also introduce the potential career pathways for Environmental Scientists and provide you with the skills required to apply for jobs.

You’ll explore the physical and chemical properties of water – aquifers, groundwater recharge, storage, and interactions with surface hydrology. You’ll look at the transport of water and contaminants through the groundwater system. You’ll cover concepts of fluid mechanics and Darcy’s law to help you understand flow through porous media. You’ll also cover applications of hydrogeology in engineering and environmental management.

You’ll study different terrains, where they occur and how they affect societies. Develop techniques of terrain evaluation and the key ideas and skills required to undertake investigations at different scales. You’ll also think about the social and professional role of the professional geoscientist.

Core modules

You’ll work in a team to collect and synthesise data with support from industrial consultants. You’ll then analyse your data to produce a project explaining the geological, engineering geological and environmental constraints and issues associated with your project and how these can be overcome.

You’ll learn essential data analysis skills you’ll need for your future career, including how to produce a carbon audit to current Defra standards and how to present data to a range of stakeholders. You’ll also produce a consultancy-style report evaluating environmental impacts and potential savings, and explore the role of environmental impact assessment in the planning system.

Supported by your Academic Tutor, you'll select and manage information and competently undertake research tasks. You'll assess health and safety, the ethical considerations in pursuing independent research, and critically evaluate your findings against knowledge in available academic literature. You'll learn to discuss and communicate your key findings found from your research and write a dissertation in accordance with academic conventions.

Optional modules

You’ll gain an understanding of modern analytical methods used in Earth and Environmental sciences, ranging from project design and the choice of laboratory techniques, through to data collection, evaluation and interpretation. You’ll also get hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art laboratories for environmental chemistry, geochemistry, mineralogy and microscopy.

You’ll examine the physical factors driving climate over history and the signatures of modern anthropogenic influence. Through climate modelling software, you'll investigate future warming scenarios and impacts regionally and globally. In a self-directed study, you'll assess vulnerabilities and solutions - evaluating possibilities for adaptation and mitigating climate change.

Spanning from major changes in lithospheric processes in the Hadean to Proterozoic, to in-depth studies of modern plate-tectonics, you’ll get an overview of topics at the forefront of geological science. You’ll also learn how to integrate specialist knowledge in order to address a wide-range of geological problems.

Attention is given to techniques and strategies for hazard identification and risk assessment. A framework for understanding contemporary hazards will be developed through theoretical reviews, case histories and/or practical examples.

You’ll become familiar with the main environmental pollutants, how they’re transferred within and between various media and how they interact with biota to create an environmental risk. You’ll explore the waste management hierarchy and the scientific and technical processes involved with waste management operations.

You’ll get familiar with the big issues and contemporary debates in education studies as well as the role and expectations of a teacher.

You’ll develops fundamental knowledge and skills that teachers require, as well as your capability to structure and critique a lesson plan.

Boost your employability by taking an industry-based work placement year with a relevant organisation or immerse yourself in another culture by studying for a year at one of our partner universities worldwide.

This is an amazing opportunity to either put everything you’ve learned so far into action in a real workplace or expand your horizons and set yourself up for your future career by studying abroad and becoming a student ambassador for our university.

Depending on what you choose, we’ll help you find and secure an exciting placement opportunity within an appropriate company or organisation, or you’ll expand your global perspective and develop additional skills to boost your future career during a study abroad year.

This is a Connected Degree

We're the only university that gives you the flexibility to choose when to take a work placement. Take it after your 2nd year, before returning to finish your studies. Or after your final year, connecting you into the workplace.

If you're not sure if or when to take your placement, don't worry. You'll have plenty of time to settle into your studies and explore your options before making your choice. 

Find out more about Connected Degrees

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 activities
  • computer-based assessment
  • scientific reports
  • exams

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.

Catherine Mary Mottram Portrait

Dr Catherine Mottram

Associate Professor in Geology

catherine.mottram@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

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

Associate Professor in Volcanology and Risk Communications

Carmen.Solana@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Craig Darryl Storey Portrait

Professor Craig Storey

Professor of Geology

Craig.Storey@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more
James Richard Darling Portrait

Professor 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
Nicholas John Minter Portrait

Dr Nic Minter

Associate Professor in Analytical and Experimental Palaeontology

Nic.Minter@port.ac.uk

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 use a blended learning approach to teaching, which means you’ll take part in both face-to-face and online activities during your studies.  As well as attending your timetabled classes you'll study independently in your free time, supported by staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle.

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 you

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 independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

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

  • 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) 

  • 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, tuition fees for that year are:

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £1,385 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £1,385 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £2,875  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 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

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

 Apply now through UCAS

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.

To start this course in 2025, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

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

 Apply now through UCAS

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.

Applying from outside the UK

As an international student you'll apply using the same process as UK students, but you’ll need to consider a few extra things. 

You can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

Find out what additional information you need in 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.