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Environmental Geoscience with a Year of International Study

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  1. Royal Holloway's institution code: R72
  2. Make a note of the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for:

    • Environmental Geoscience with a Year of International Study MSci - FP42
    • Environmental Geoscience MSci - F631
    • Environmental Geoscience with a Year in Industry MSci - F644
  3. Click on the link below to apply via the UCAS website:
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Environmental Geoscience with a Year of International Study

MSci

Course options

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

UCAS code: FP42

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

UCAS code: F631

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

View this course

Key information

Duration: 5 years full time

UCAS code: F644

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

View this course

The course

Environmental Geoscience with a Year of International Study (MSci)

Population growth, global industrialisation and other related issues are putting our planet under unprecedented strain. As an Environmental Geoscientist you’ll be in a position to apply both acute problem-solving skills and the profound understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet required to overcome some of our most significant threats.

  • You’ll graduate with an integrated Masters degree (MSci) in Environmental Geoscience from one of the UK’s most highly regarded departments in a course that guides you to develop a deep understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet
  • This versatile four-year course will develop your scientific understanding and hands-on experience of environmental, ecological and health issues, combined with valuable workplace experience and professional connections you’ll make during your international year
  • Your final year will be spent studying abroad in a partner university in Canada, the United States, Australia or New Zealand, giving you the chance to experience a new culture, develop key skills and study unique geological and environmental conditions in situ.
  • 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
Field trips

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.

  • Develop a deep understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet.
  • Participate in exciting fieldwork opportunities.
  • Choose from a range of optional modules to tailor your learning to fit your interests.
  • Recommended for those who wish to undertake a broader and deeper study of the subject.
  • Prepares you for careers in environmental engineering, geographic analysis and other sectors.

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.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • 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.

     

Year 2
  • 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
Year 3
  • This year will be spent studying abroad. Royal Holloway has a number of formal partnerships with institutions in Europe and further afield. Students should be aware that placement at a host institution is a competitive process involving an application to the university abroad and this process is supported by Royal Holloway. This year forms an integral part of the degree programme. Marks obtained for courses taken at the institution abroad will be credited towards their degree.

Year 4
  • Independent Environmental Geoscience Project
  • This course will integrate sedimentary, palaeontological, oceanographic and atmospheric information from the geological and modern record to understand the evolution of the modern Earth. Students will investigate the climate record through geologic time and what it can tell us about the future challenges of climate change, utilising a varied range of paleoclimatic proxies from both paleontology and sedimentology and looking at the range of climate data. They will explore the links between climate, tectonics and sedimentary systems. They will assess the intimate relationship between the evolution of land life and the evolution of the atmosphere.

  • The aim is to equip MSci students (and potentially new PhD students) with the skills and techniques to undertake research. The course will include scientific ethics, the intelligent and efficient design of research or experiments, including how to capture, store and deal with data and meta-data, project planning, how to publicize your science, press release, video, outreach etc, an Introduction to Unix/Linux and a scripting language such as python i.e. how to do many things to a large number of files or large files and how to run them efficiently. Data reduction and interrogation with Igor or R or python with plotting publication ready data to maximum effect. Uncertainty in scientific measurement and modelling and how to propagate it. An introduction to basic electronics and interfacing your computer to an experiment and log/capture data, and ending with image capture and analysis.

Optional Modules

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.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2
  • 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.

Year 4
  • You will acquire practical experience, advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the role of aquatic chemistry, ecology, and hydrogeological processes in the diagnosis and management of surface- and ground-water. You will learn first-hand how water and wastewater are treated and how the quality of surface and groundwater is assessed in ecological and physio-chemical terms.

  • You will acquire practical experience, advanced knowledge and a critical understanding of the dispersion and conversion of gaseous and particulate air pollutants derived from man-made and natural sources, their impacts on health, climate and the environment, and global air quality monitoring methods and management issues.

  • You will acquire practical experience, advanced scientific and technical knowledge, and a critical understanding of quality assured sampling strategies, sample preparation procedures and analytical systems for environmental inorganic pollutants. The focus will be on quantitative measurements of heavy metals and radionuclides with natural and man-made sources in different environmental media.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take sixteen course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective, thereby offering flexibility and choice.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take.

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

A Levels: BBB-BBC

Required subjects:

  • 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.

T-levels

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.

Country-specific requirements

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.

Environmental Geoscience with an International Year equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to progress into a rewarding career in your chosen field or to further postgraduate study.

You will benefit from a blend of academic study and real-world experience, with exciting field working opportunities. 

You’ll graduate with a Masters degree in a course with a significant practical and research component, making you an attractive prospect to employers in a variety of fields. You’ll also spend a year studying abroad, helping you to develop further key skills and add to your list of life experiences. 

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

The fee for your international year will be 15% of the tuition fee for that academic year.

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £25,200

The fee for your international year will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year.

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 EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2024 but will advertised here once confirmed.  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 2024/25 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.

Accreditation

The Geological Society Logo

On successful completion of this programme you may be eligible to become a fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Top 10

in the UK for student satisfaction

Source: The Complete University Guide, 2024

Top 10

in the UK Earth Science departments

Source: Guardian University Guide, 2024

100%

world-leading and internationally excellent research environment

Source: REF 2021

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