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More in this section Earth Sciences

Geology BSc

UCAS code F600
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
3 years full time
Department Earth Sciences »

To understand the physical Earth and the dynamic processes that continue to alter and change our environment you must understand Geology.

Study Geology at Royal Holloway, University of London and you’ll combine disciplines including chemistry, physics, maths and geography to fully comprehend the past, present and future of our planet. You’ll gain the skills needed to help communities manage natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as well as those required to locate precious minerals and natural resources including crude oil and diamonds. You’ll graduate with a diverse set of transferrable skills that will make you a highly employable candidate for employers in a range of fields.

Study in a department consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country (The Complete University Guide and The Guardian 2016), and home to an inspiring research culture that informs our teaching. You’ll enjoy field work opportunities in the UK and overseas,  and become a part of an inclusive, community-focussed department with a strong staff-to-student ratio.

Study Geology at Royal Holloway and you’ll graduate well equipped to progress to postgraduate study or to a rewarding career in your chosen field. Our alumni have gone on to careers in petroleum geology, geotechnical engineering and other related sectors, so follow your passion for Geology and see where it can take you. 

  • 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. (Research Excellence Framework, 2014).
  • Graduate with a Geology degree from a department consistently ranked among the UK’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide and The Guardian 2016).
  • Enjoy extensive fieldwork opportunities in the UK and overseas.
  • Gain a practical skillset geared towards a career in Earth Sciences and other related fields.
  • Choose from a range of optional courses to tailor your learning to your own interests and ambitions.

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

Stratigraphy and the History of Life

In this module you will develop an understanding of the key events in the history of life and their environmental impact using the fossil and sedimentary record. You will analyse fossil assemblages using stratigraphic principles such as absolute dating, lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy. You will consider how to interpret sedimentary rocks, and examine the importance of fossil assemblages in the interpretation of events in earth history. 

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.

Igneous and Metamorphic Geology 2

In this module you will further develop your understanding of igneous and metamorphic geology. You will look at the characteristics and origins of alkaline igneous rocks, the nature and controls on metamorphic reactions, and the links between metamorphism and tectonic processes. You will consider hand specimen and thin section techniques for study of minerals and igneous and metamorphic rocks, and examine analytical approaches to the interpretation of metamorphic rocks, including the quantification of metamorphic rates and processes.

Geochemistry

In this module you will develop an understanding of advanced chemical concepts relevant to the Earth Sciences. You will focus on isotope geochemistry and consider techniques that are directly applicable in most geological contexts. You will attend practical classes and conduct a small project involving the analysis and interpretation of a real geochemical dataset.

Advanced Scientific and Geological Field Skills

In this module you will develop advanced geological field skills. You will carry out a series of activities in an area of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and in an area of sedimentary rocks. You will learn to describe and interpret the origin of the rock types in the field and will prepare a geological map and cross-section using standard symbols. You will analyse structural features using stereonets, and infer the geological history of a region through the construction of scaled cross-sections through structurally complex terrains.

Year 3

Advanced Concepts and Techniques in Geology

Independent Field Mapping

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

Environmental Issues

 

Introduction to Petroleum Geology

 

Year 2

Sedimentary Basin Analysis

 

Geohazards

 

Applied Geophysics

 

Computational Earth Sciences

 

Structural Analysis and Remote Sensing

 

Year 3

Marine Geology

 

Advanced Topics in Sedimentology

 

Aqueous Geology

 

Volcanology

 

Planetary Geology and Geophysics

 

Advanced Techniques in Tectonic and Structural Interpretation

 

Mineral Resources

 

Advanced Palaeontology

 

Teaching and learning is mostly by means of practical classes, which comprise 60% of the timetabled study time. Lectures are used to introduce material and provide a context for private study. Tutorials supplement and reinforce knowledge and understanding, while field and laboratory project work carried out as individuals or in teams are valuable opportunities for students to develop in-depth knowledge of specialist areas and help bring the syllabus to life.

Assessment is by a mixture 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, oral presentations and independent dissertations. In the final year you will produce an independent geological map and write a research report with individual guidance from your tutor.

The first year is foundational and marks do not count towards your final degree. The second year, optional year abroad 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 45% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 55% 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 44% of the total assessment for this year of study, 4% will be assessed through practical exams, and 52% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels

ABB including a Science 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 Science subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Geography, Biology, Computer Science.

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

BTEC Extended Diploma

Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a Science subject. Substantial Maths content is required.

BTEC National Extended Diploma

Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject plus one A-level grade B in an acceptable Science subject.

BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus two A-levels grades BB including one A-level in an acceptable Science 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 Science subject.

Scottish Highers

AABBB including an acceptable Science subject.

Irish Leaving Certificate

H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 including H3 in one acceptable Science subject.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Pass in a relevant subject 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.

Geology graduates from Royal Holloway are well placed to progress to postgraduate study or a rewarding career in a variety of fields and our recent alumni have secured positions in fields including environmental consultancy, geoscience and petroleum geology, among others.

Geologists develop knowledge and  a set of transferrable skills that prove attractive to a wide range of employers, with exciting career opportunities worldwide in fields such as mineral exploration and mining. Our jobs fairs, skills workshops and visits from industry representatives provide students with excellent career opportunities.

  • 90% of graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
  • Programme structure geared towards providing graduates with a robust practical skillset.
  • The Department retains excellent industry connections, with representatives regularly visiting the campus to provide careers opportunities for current students.

  • All of our Earth Sciences programmes are accredited by the Geological Society, providing graduates with qualifications recognised and respected by employers in a variety of fields.

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

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

Other essential costs***: £120

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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