Duration: 3 years full time
UCAS code: F630
Institution code: R72
Duration: 4 years full time
UCAS code: F690
Institution code: R72
Campus: EghamView this course
Environmental Geology (BSc)
Environmental Geologists are at the forefront of research into some of the most significant threats facing humankind, from natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanoes to manmade issues such as climate change, pollution, and resource depletion.
- BSc Environmental Geology is a highly practical course that gives you the necessary skills to examine the extent and effects of human interaction with the environment, as well as the geological processes that have an impact on the wider world around us.
- We offer a broad range of optional courses to allow you to tailor your degree to your own learning interests
- You’ll study a hands-on degree with an extensive fieldwork programme and over 60% of timetabled study time taken up by hands on 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
Fieldwork is the glue that brings together all aspects of the taught programme in Earth Sciences, as well as providing a chance for staff and students to get to know each other. The fieldwork programme is designed to provide progressive training over years 1 and 2 in preparation for fieldwork associated with year 3 dissertation projects, involving either geological mapping or environmental data collection.
The fieldwork programme includes year 1 trips to Devon, Pembrokeshire, Charnwood Forest, and Oxfordshire, year 2 trips to Scotland, Almeria, Southwest England, and for environmental data collection, and year 3 has a trip to either Tenerife or Cyprus.
- Gain a thorough understanding of environmental geoscience.
- Contribute to our leading research working alongside our expert academics.
- Optional modules to tailor your degree around your interests.
- Participate in extensive fieldwork opportunities.
- Graduate with practical and research skills needed for a rewarding career.
- Graduate with a degree accredited by the Geological Society.
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 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 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 introduces the 4.6 billion-year history of our Evolving Earth and provides you with the skills to interpret that history. The module is subdivided into two complimentary streams that closely integrate. One stream (palaeontology) considers the story of life from its origin to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, concluding with our own recent human evolution. It focuses on major events in evolution, and introduces you to the key concepts including systematic palaeontology, palaeoecology, palaeobiology, evolution, and taphonomy. The other stream (sedimentology) considers earth surface processes and palaeoenvironments and teaches you how to recognise the changing environments through time using techniques including rock classification, textural analysis, facies analysis and graphic logging, palaeoflow analysis, and stratigraphy. Because life and environments have co-evolved and are co-dependent, palaeontology and sedimentology need to be taught in close parallel, providing you with a powerful synthetic understanding of how our Earth has evolved in the past and continues to change in the future.
Earth is a dynamic and evolving planet with a record of plate tectonic and environmental change over its 4.6 billion year history. This module explores the geological structure and the processes that shape our planet and other planets within our solar system, from the planetary heat engine that powers plate motion and leads to the surface expression of these forces in volcanoes and earthquakes, to the use of maps, minerals and rocks to unlock the story in the rocks beneath our feet.
With the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the recent COP26, a seismic societal shift towards issues related to sustainability and climate change is taking place globally. The next generation of geoscientists are now required to understand the complex interrelations between human activities and a changing Earth system. With this module, students will explore key themes at the core of human-Earth interaction such as anthropogenic climate change, geohazards, environmental pollution, and sustainable exploitation of energy resources and energy-critical elements.
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 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 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 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 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.
- Geological field skills for Environmental students
- Environmental Geology Independent Project
- Aqueous Geology
- Methods of Environmental Investigation
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.
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.
All modules are core
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 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 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.
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.
- Marine Geology
- Advanced Topics in Sedimentology
- GIS and Remote Sensing
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.
- Mineral Resources
Teaching & assessment
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. 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 to 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.
Year 1 is foundational, and marks do not count towards your final degree. Year 2, 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.
A Levels: BBB-BBC
- A-level in at least one science-based subject such as Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Geography or Biology.
- 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
The Department of Earth Sciences has a high graduate employment rate, with 94% of alumni in work or further education within six months of graduating. The Environmental Geology course will provide you with a diverse practical skillset geared towards securing a career in Earth Sciences and other related fields, with many alumni finding work in sectors including mining geology, exploration geology, environmental consulting and map editing.
The Department retains excellent industry connections, with representatives regularly visiting the campus to provide careers opportunities for current students. All of our Earth Sciences courses are accredited by the Geological Society, providing graduates with qualifications recognised and respected by employers in a variety of fields.
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.