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Digital Geosciences BSc

UCAS code F640
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
3 years full time
Department Earth Sciences »

Earth scientists delve into the earliest history of our planet and look to the future to better understand threats such as natural disaster and climate change. To do so we need to harness the most sophisticated tools at our disposal.

BSc Digital Geosciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is a specialist programme and one of very few of its kind, designed to focus on the increasingly digital-centric scope of geological work. You’ll gain a unique skillset of computational, data acquisition and data analysis abilities that are highly sought-after in a range of industries.

Join a department consistently ranked among the UK’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide and The Guardian 2016), and work in world-leading labs for geochemical analysis, sedimentology and palaeontology. You’ll also enjoy extensive fieldwork opportunities in the UK and overseas, and become a part of a friendly, community-focussed department with an excellent staff-to-student ratio.

You’ll be taught by expert academics involved with cutting-edge research, 94% of which is rated world-leading or internationally excellent by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 – ranking us no.2 in the UK. 

BSc Digital Geosciences is a groundbreaking programme geared towards securing graduates a career in the Earth Sciences and a range of other sectors where these skills are heavily in demand.

  • A groundbreaking degree programme focussed on the digital aspects of geological work.
  • Benefit from a pioneering research culture, with 94% of Department of Earth Sciences research ranked world-leading or internationally excellent – no.2 in the UK.
  • Join a department consistently ranked among the UK’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide and The Guardian 2016).
  • Gain transferrable career skills including computer modelling, data acquisition and data analysis skills.
  • Enjoy extensive fieldwork opportunities in the UK and Europe. 

Core modules

Year 1

Global Tectonics

In this module you will develop an understanding of the evolution of major features of current and past tectonic activity of the Earth. You will look at the current understanding of the Earth’s interior, considering its importance for both the kinematic and tectonic evolution of the planet. You will also explore how plate boundaries have formed, the dynamic processes involved, the types of data used to investigate these regions both onshore and offshore, and the importance of these processes to society.

Introductory Sedimentology

In this module you will develop an understanding of the surface processes and the mechanisms of weathering, transport and deposition. You will look at the classification of sediments and sedimentary rocks, and consider depositional facies analysis and interpretation of the paleoenvironment. You will also examine the use and interpretation of sedimentary logs, triangular diagrams, vector scales and granylometric data in analysing sedimentary rocks.

Igneous and Metamorphic Geology 1

In this module you will develop an understanding of crystallography, rock-forming minerals, their occurrence and textures in igneous and metamorphic rocks. You will look at igneous and metamorphic geology, volcanic and plutonic rocks, mineral identification, crystallisation, silicates, metamorphic rocks and textures. You will also examine the origin of chemical variation in volcanic rocks, metamorphic rocks and textures, and ore minerals.

Physics and Chemistry of the Earth

In this module you will develop an understanding of basic concepts in chemistry and physics and how to apply these to geological processes. You will look at atoms and atomic structure, the periodic table of elements, reactions, equations, geochemical analysis, the composition of the earth, interpretation of phase diagrams, solubility of minerals, weathering and the hydrological cycle. You will also consider Newton’s Laws, kinematics, circular motion, planetary orbits, gravity, magnetism, electricity, resistivity, stress, strain, seismicity, isostasy, radioactivity, and geochronology.

Earth Structures

In this module you will develop an understanding of the principles of structural geology and the interpretation of geological maps. You will look at large scale geological structures and learn how to recognise them on geological maps. You will consider how to interpret maps, recognise outcrop patterns, geological structures and geological relationships on maps, and how to draw cross sections. You will also examine smaller scale structures in hand specimen and outcrop, and analyse structural data in order to understand larger scale structural relationships.

Introductory Palaeontology

In this module you will develop an understanding of palaeobiology and palaeoecology. You will look at the the diagnostic characters of the major groups of fossils in the laboratory and field, and compare and contrast examples from the main categories of fossils, learning to differentiate between them. You will also examine the diversity of fossils and see how this can be applied in both stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental analysis. 

Scientific and Geological Field Skills

In this module you develop an understanding of the skills required to practice geology in the field, carrying out a series of activities in South Devon and Pembrokeshire. You will learn to describe and interpret the origin of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and how to prepare a geological map and cross-section using standard symbols. You will examine stereographic projections, sedimentary logging, the construction of stratigraphic columns for the identification of rocks, and the analysis of structural features using sterenets.

Year 2

Regional Geology

In this module you will develop an understanding of the geological evolution of the British Isles, interpreting regional geological history from geological maps. You will learn to describe rock specimens, and examine how palaeoenvironments can be reconstructed using case studies. You will also consider the application of stratigraphic techniques and use evidence from several different fields of geology to evaluate competing hypotheses for geological evolution.

Applied Geophysics

 In this module you will develop an understanding of the theory and practice of seismic, gravity, magnetic and resistivity surveying. You will consider the methods used to manipulate, analyse, and display geophysical data to solve geological exploration problems, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of the different data types.

Computational Earth Sciences

In this module you will develop an understanding of how computation tools are used to read, create, analyse, and visualise digital earth science data. You will learn to use python, a popular scripting language, to read and manipulate data from digital files, and look at digital mapping techniques, using data to plot 2D and 3D maps. You will consider how to fit linear data and analyse the goodness of fit using statistical analysis tools, and examine how to produce simple models of geological processes using algebraic expression, such as generating models for seismic travel time curves, major element concentration during magma crystallization, sedimentary basin thickness, and other similar geological phenomenon. 

Project Proposal for Computational Geosciences

You will work on identifying and proposing an independent project for your final year of study. You will produce a 3,000 word report with a literature review, overview of proposed work, identification of project milestones, resources required, and risk and mitigation strategy. You will consider the digital and computational techniques to be used, and give a short presentation outlining your proposal.

Structural Analysis and Remote Sensing

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to analyse geological structures in terms of the deformational mechanisms and tectonic stresses that have produced them. You will look at brittle failure in rocks, fracture types and propagation, and consider the relationship between principal stresses and geologic structures on small and regional scales. You will examine remotely sensed continental and marine data sets, and use imagery available in Google Earth for tectonic analysis. 

Year 3

Advanced Concepts and Techniques in Computational Geosciences
 
Independent Project

 

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Maths with Environmental Issues

 

Maths with Petroleum Geology

 

Year 2

Stratigraph and the History of Life

 

Sedimentary Basin Analysis

 

Geohazards

 

Igneous and Metamorphic Geology

 

Geochemistry

 

Year 3

Marine Geology

 

Advanced Topics in Sedimentology

 

Aqueous Geology

 

GIS and Remote Sensing

 

Volcanology

 

Planetary Geology and Geophysics

 

Advanced Techniques in Tectonic and Structural Interpretation

 

Petroleum Geology

 

Advanced Paleontology

 

Teaching and learning is conducted primarily by means of practical classes. Lectures are used to introduce material and provide a context for private study, while tutorials supplement and reinforce knowledge and understanding. Computational and laboratory project work carried out as individuals or in teams represent valuable opportunities for students to develop in-depth knowledge of specialist areas and help bring the syllabus to life.

Assessment is through a mix of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the chosen course units. Coursework can include literature research reports, fieldwork and laboratory exercises and reports, computer-based research projects, oral presentations and independent dissertations. 

In the final year you will carry out an independent computational research project and write a research report with individual guidance from your tutor. In year 2 you’ll prepare a project proposal which will help to guide you through the independent project in year 3.

The first year is foundational, and marks do not count towards your final degree. The second and final-year marks do count, with the final year marks being more heavily weighted in order to reward progress and achievement.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 32% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 68% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 49% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 51% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 44% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 56% in guided independent study.

Assessment

Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 53% of the total assessment for this year of study, 8% will be assessed through practical exams, and 39% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 44% of the total assessment for this year of study, 4% will be assessed through practical exams, and 52% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 36% of the total assessment for this year of study, 4% will be assessed through practical exams, and 60% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels

ABB including a Mathematics subject
How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.

  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.

Required/preferred subjects

Acceptable Mathematics subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Further Mathematics, Statistics.

At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics.

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate

6,5,5 at Higher Level, including 5 in an acceptable Higher Level Mathematics subject, with a minimum of 32 points overall. 

BTEC Extended Diploma

Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a Science subject with substantial Mathematics content. 

BTEC National Extended Diploma

Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus 1 A-level grade B in a Mathematics subject.

BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus A-level grades BB, including a Mathematics subject.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate.

Scottish Advanced Highers

ABB including an acceptable Mathematics subject.

Scottish Highers

AABBB including an acceptable Mathematics subject.

Irish Leaving Certificate

H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 including H3 in one Mathematical subject.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Pass with at least 15 level 3 credits in Science units at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit.

Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education.

Other UK qualifications

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International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language
requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall and minimum of 5.5 in each subscore.  For equivalencies please see here

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

BSc Digital Geosciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is a new degree programme that is structured to prepare graduates for careers in the Earth Sciences and a variety of related sectors. You'll develop a broad skillset including computer modelling, data acquisition and data analysis skills, attractive to employers in the resources sector, environmental organisations and many other fields.

Our students benefit from one-to-one advice from a Careers Consultant, and industry representatives regularly visit the Department to provide careers opportunities and advice.

  • 90% of graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
  • Programme structure geared towards providing graduates with a robust transferrable digital skillset.
  • Jobs fairs, skills workshops and visits from industry representatives provide students with excellent career opportunities. 
  • Graduate with a degree accredited by the Geological Society.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year**: £18,900

How do I pay for it?  Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates starting their degrees in 2018 is controlled by Government regulations, and details are not yet known. The UK Government has also announced that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.

**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our  terms & conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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