Please note that this degree is now closed for 2024 entry.
Duration: 3 years full time
UCAS code: F640
Institution code: R72
Digital Geosciences (BSc)
Earth scientists delve into the earliest history of our planet and look to the future to better understand threats such as natural disasters and climate change. To do so we need to harness the most sophisticated tools at our disposal.
- BSc Digital Geosciences is a specialist course and one of very few of its kind providing a bespoke degree focused on the increasingly digital-centric scope of geological work
- We offer a broad range of optional courses to allow you to tailor your degree to your own learning interests
- You’ll learn how to harness the most sophisticated tools at our disposal with over 60% of timetabled study hours taken up by practical classes
- Study in a department consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country and home to an inspiring research culture that informs our teaching
- Specialise in the digital aspects of geological work.
- Taught by academics involved with cutting-edge research.
- You’ll learn how to harness the most sophisticated tools at our disposal.
- Develop skills and analysis abilities that are highly sought after in a range of industries.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of palaeobiology and palaeoecology. You will look at 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.
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 stereonets.
This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.
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.
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.
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 phenomena.
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.
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.
- Independent Project
The module aims to teach students advanced level key geological and transferable skills. Data Handling - a lecture and practical course on retrieval and handling of geological data which revises and extends numerical skills introduced in years 1 and 2. Presentation skills – presentation exercise to improve spoken, visual and other aspects of communication in geology. Advanced Field Skills - includes data collection, teamwork and site investigations.
A course including both advanced topics integrating knowledge across the Earth Sciences and also providing key geological and transferable skills for advanced-level students. Frontiers in Geology lectures - Philosophy of Geology, Physical Origins, the plate system and thermal controls. Biological controls. Environment. Integrated practicals - a range of diverse geological materials are analysed in a series of integrated map-linked practicals.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the fundamentals of environmental geology, including the connection between ecology and geology, the rates of geological processes, and the structure of the Earth. You will look at natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanism, tsunamis, landslides and flooding. You will also consider the origin and usage of water and energy resources and examine the geological tools available to study climate change. You will learn how to manipulate algebraic equations and expressions, gaining familiarity with several types of charts, diagrams, and projections commonly used in geological sciences, such as log-log plots and stereonets.
- Petroleum Geology with Maths
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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to classify sedimentary basins according to their tectonic mode of formation. You will learn to explain and illustrate the basic processes of subsidence and uplift in basins formed by extension, and flexural loading of, the lithosphere. You will also consider how characteristic patterns of sedimentary facies and stratigraphic architecture relate to different basin types and the tectonic processes that formed them, examining the tectonosedimentary history of stratigraphic successions in outcrop and subsurface data.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the hazards associated with geological activity, their causes, and approaches to risk management. You will look at volcanoes, earthquakes, and radon, and the hazards associated with the exploitation of geological resources and associated anthropogenic activity, including asbestos, the mining industry, and contaminated land. You will examine a variety of geological and geochemical data, and learn to interpret and analyse these in order to make scientifically justified decisions as to the level of risk.
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.
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.
- Marine Geology
- Advanced Topics in Sedimentology
- Aqueous Geology
- GIS and Remote Sensing
- Planetary Geology and Geophysics
- Advanced Techniques in Tectonic and Structural Interpretation
This course has two main aims:
1) To introduce you to the evidence for and mechanisms of modern climate change – what climate change is, how the climate change is manifested, what physical mechanisms are driving it, and what its future status might be.
2) Methods of research in multi-disciplinary topics, report writing, and communication of complex ideas for policy makers using Earth Science as a subject matter.
- The Geology of Petroleum
- Advanced Palaeontology
Teaching & assessment
Teaching and learning is conducted primarily by means of practical classes. Lectures are used tointroduce 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.
A Levels: BBB-BBC
- A-level in at least one maths-based subject such as Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Further Mathematics or Statistics
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.
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. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.
We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:
- AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
- AAA – Distinction
- BBB – Merit
- CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
- DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)
Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 54. No subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.
Undergraduate preparation programme
For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.
Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
BSc Digital Geosciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is a new degree course 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.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £24,000
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, the fee is £9,250 for that year.
**This figure is the fee for students starting a degree in the academic year 2023/24, and is provided here as a guide. The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you are classified as an international student. Please see the fees and funding page for more information.
Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.
***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2023/24 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.