Duration: 4 years full time
UCAS code: F601
Institution code: R72
Duration: 5 years full time
UCAS code: F642
Institution code: R72
Campus: EghamView this course
Duration: 4 years full time
UCAS code: F602
Institution code: R72
Campus: EghamView this course
As far as we know, planet Earth and the plants and animals on it represent a single oasis of life in an otherwise barren universe. MSci Geoscience helps to develop a holistic understanding of the formation and evolution of Earth and the life on it.
- With a MSci Geoscience degree, you will graduate with an integrated Masters degree in Earth Sciences with a comprehensive four-year course that brings together elements of chemistry, physics, maths, and geography to give you the skills to fully comprehend the past, present, and future of our planet
- 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 over 60 hours of fieldwork 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 Independent Mapping, and year 3 has a trip to either Tenerife or Cyprus.
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 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.
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.
The purpose of this module is to provide advanced practical skills in the interpretation and synthesis of laboratory and field data, supported by literature research, and to be able to communicate as much through a presentation and report.
The purpose of this module is to embed GIS and programming skills for the creation, analysis and interpretation of geospatial data and coding skills to facilitate data collection, analysis, modelling and interpretation. The module explains the origin of GIS and trains students in the creation of georeferenced point, line and polygon data, combine raster and vector data, and data analysis. It also introduces Python and the use of arrays, reading and writing, branching and repeating, and plotting.
In this module, students rank their preferred field mapping areas and are allocated one based on their choices. They live in small groups for a minimum of four weeks in their second year, creating a geological map of a 15-25 sq km area. The chosen areas meet safety and academic requirements, offering diverse opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge in earth science. Students familiarise themselves with base maps, remote sensing data, and area risks before the fieldwork. Field supervision is initially provided by academics, followed by independent work to produce a field map and record. In the third year, students discuss and analyse field data, notebooks, maps, and interpretations with supervisors and staff. They also study rocks and data from the field area. By the second term of the third year, students submit a written report and geological map, aiming to understand the area's stratigraphy, structure, and geological history.
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.
- Formation and Evolution of the continents
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.
- Research Proposal and Critical Review
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 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 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 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
- Aqueous Geology
- 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.
- Mineral Resources
- Advanced Palaeontology
All modules are core
Teaching & assessment
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. Second year, third year 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
- 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
Study Geoscience at Royal Holloway, University of London and you’ll graduate with a Masters degree from one of the country’s most highly regarded departments. Geoscience graduates are well placed to progress to further research-based study, and to careers in fields including the hydrocarbon and mineral extraction industries and environmental professions.
All of our Earth Sciences degrees are accredited by the Geological Society as a fast track route to Fellowship with professional recognition as a Chartered Geologist – helping you to achieve your career aims. We host jobs fairs, skills workshops and visits from industry representatives to provide our students with excellent career networking opportunities.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £25,200
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.