Earth Science and Engineering

Take your study of the Earth to Master’s level and undertake a year abroad in this professionally accredited degree.

Key information

Award

MSci

Duration

4 years

full-time

Minimum entry

Three A-level offer: A A A

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

3 : 1

Based on 2019 entry data

  • UCAS course code: F601
  • ECTS: 240
  • Start date: October 2021

Overview

The principal challenge facing the world’s growing population is how to maintain sustainable access to the natural resources – water, energy and food – that are necessary for us to enjoy a good quality of life, while protecting the environment.

The science and engineering behind understanding and solving this challenge lie at the heart of earth science, an interdisciplinary subject which encompasses physics, chemistry, mathematics and other sciences. It can be applied to the study of Earth to give us an understanding of how our planet works, from its internal core, crust and oceans, to the atmosphere and our solar system.

All our courses combine a strong traditional emphasis on observational and field skills with the numerical and analytical fundamental science required to understand Earth processes and systems quantitatively.

We also emphasise the development of transferable professional skills such as group working, problem-solving, drawing inferences from incomplete data, IT, and oral and written communication. You can expect a balance between theory and practice, including a variety of field trips in the UK and abroad.

Study programme

Geologists study the world through observation and draw conclusions based on an understanding of important scientific principles.

The modular nature of this course enables you to gain a solid understanding of geosciences while tailoring your study programme to suit your interests. As the course progresses, you will be able to choose modules from specialist areas such as: palaeobiology, oceanography, igneous and metamorphic processes, and geomorphology.

You spend your third year studying abroad in a year which counts directly towards your final degree.

Your study reaches Master's level in the fourth year with a choice of advanced modules, a specialist field trip and a substantial research project. This means that you will require fewer years of work experience than graduates of our BSc degrees to apply for Chartership of the Geological Society (see Professional accreditation).

Year abroad

You spend your third year studying at a leading university overseas. This is an integrated year abroad, so the grades you achieve will count directly towards your Imperial degree. Opportunities are currently available at:

  • MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), USA
  • University of California (hosted via the UC Education Abroad Program), USA
  • Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • University of Strasbourg, France*
  • University of Barcelona, Spain*
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland*

* An acceptable proficiency in the local language is required to study at these locations. Free language classes are available at the College to help you prepare.

Field work

We place emphasis on field work across all our courses. It is a great way to apply your knowledge to the real world and learn essential skills.Fieldwork

Our field trips are designed to help you gain experience of identifying rocks and interpreting the physical processes that may have been involved in their formation.

Depending on which course you choose, you could spend over 100 days in the field. This can range from geological day trips in the UK to 10 days in the Pyrenees.

Students on Geology courses spend six weeks mapping the geology of areas such as the: Greek Cyclades, French Massif Central, Pyrenees, French Alps, North West Scotland, and others.

Students on Geophysics courses have the chance to gain experience in using technical equipment in the field.

Students on Earth and Planetary Science courses join Geology students for the same field trips, and have the option to join the independent mapping project.

Transfer between courses

All of our courses follow a similar syllabus for the first two years. This high level of shared content means you may transfer between all our Geology and Geophysics courses up to the start of spring term in the first year if you meet the original entry requirements for the course you want to transfer to. As a result, you are encouraged to only apply for one course within the department.

  • Transfer onto our Year Abroad courses is not normally possible as places at our partner institutions are limited.
  • Transfer to the equivalent three-year BSc course is normally allowed up until the start of year three.

If you are an international student, transferring to a different course could have an impact on your Tier 4 visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.

Structure

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about them.

Year 1

Core modules

  • Deforming the Earth
  • Dynamic Earth and Planets
  • Geology in the Field
  • Life over Deep Time
  • Physical and Surface Processes
  • Programming for Geoscientists
  • Stratigraphy and Geomaterials
  • Volcanism and Internal Processes

Optional modules

  • Chemistry for Geoscientists or Low Temperature Geochemistry
  • Maths Methods 1 or Mathematics for Geoscientists

Year 2

Core modules

  • High-temperature Geochemistry
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Geology
  • Maps and Structures
  • Palaeontology and Optical Petrology
  • Pure and Applied Geophysics
  • Remote Sensing Earth and Planets
  • Rocks and Structures in the Field
  • Sediments and Stratigraphy
  • Solar System Science

Year Abroad

You spend your third year studying abroad.

While abroad, you study modules and complete an idependant project at your host university, undertaking a similar programme of study to the third year at Imperial.

You can read more about the year abroad above and on the Department’s website.

Limited places means competition for placements abroad is strong, and cannot be guaranteed. Normally only students achieving first class marks in the first and second years will be eligible for selection. Students receiving the highest marks are normally given the first pick of the host universities. If there are more students wishing to go than places available, only the top-performing students will be considered.

Partnerships with universities are subject to continuous review and individual partnerships may or may not be renewed.

There may be limitations placed upon your ability to live and study in certain locations. If applicable you will need to successfully apply for the relevant visa. This applies to all students, including Home students, in light of the vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Year 4

Core modules

  • MSci Independent Project
  • Field Geology of an Active Mountain Belt

Optional modules

You choose five optional modules in total.

You can take a maximum of three level 6 modules from Group A which may include an I-Explore module.

Group A
Level 6 modules
  • Advanced Programming
  • Astrobiology
  • Earth Systems
  • Environmental Seminars
  • Geological and Coastal Engineering
  • Gravity, Magnetism and Orbital Dynamics
  • Hydrogeology and Fluid Flow
  • I-Explore
  • Mining Environmental Management
  • Ore Deposits
  • Planetary Surfaces
  • Tectonics of the Oceans
Level 7 modules
  • Advanced Exploration Geophysics
  • Applied Geomorphology
  • Collisions and Craters
  • Geodynamics
  • Geohazards
  • Geological Reactive Transport
  • Geophysical Inversion
  • Magmatic Processes and Products
  • Meteorites
  • Minerals Processing
  • Palaeobiology
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Planetary Chemistry
  • Planetary Physics

Some modules run in alternate years, which means that a module may not be available to you in year three, but will be in year four, and vice-versa. You cannot take the same module twice.


Download the programme specification‌ [PDF] – this is the most up-to-date version available for this course. It may change for your year of entry. If/when changes to this course are approved by the College, we will update this document and the information on this course page.


I-Explore

Through I-Explore, you'll have the chance to deepen your knowledge in a brand new subject area, chosen from a huge range of for-credit modules.

All of our undergraduate courses include one module from I-Explore's wide selection. The module you choose will be fully integrated into your course's curriculum and count as credit towards your degree.

Find out more about I-Explore

Professional accreditation

This degree leads to a Master's level qualification and is professionally accredited by the Geological Society of London.

Achieving a professionally accredited degree demonstrates to employers that you have achieved an industry-recognised standard of competency. It also brings international recognition of your qualification, which is particularly useful for students preparing for a career abroad.

As professionally accredited qualifications, our MSci courses in Earth Science reduce the number of years of post-graduation experience you need in order to register as a Chartered Geologist (CGeol). This is a highly respected qualification earned by professionals working in the geosciences industries, which can lead to higher earning potential and better career prospects.

The current accreditation agreement was awarded for students starting their studies in the 2017–18 academic year, and is renewed every six years.

Associateship

As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal School of Mines on completion of this course.

The Royal School of Mines is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.

Find out more about our Associateships.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

Our courses are both theoretical and practical. Teaching will be enhanced by fieldwork opportunities throughout your degree. Methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Field work
  • Group exercises
  • Laboratory work

Assessment

Methods for this course include:

  • Written examinations
  • Coursework
  • Reports
  • Poster presentation
  • Seminars
  • Vivas

Assessment types

 Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Coursework 10% 10% Varies 5%
Practical 20% 30% Varies 55%
Examination 70% 60% Varies 40%
Based on the typical pathway through the course; percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number

Year 3 varies depending on the syllabus at the partner university during your year abroad.

Staff expertise

For each module you will have a designated coordinator, who will be normally be a teaching fellow or member of academic staff.

You receive tutorial time with post-doctoral research assistants/fellows, who will themselves be researching specialised areas of geology and geophysics, with a depth of subject knowledge and experience of study to share.

As you progress through your degree, the areas covered become specialised and more advanced, and you will increasingly be taught by experts in the fields concerned.

Compare this course

See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions.

Discover Uni compares things like student satisfaction and what graduates do after they finish the course.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.

For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.

A-levels

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2021 entry is AAA overall, to include at least two of the following:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

If you do not present an A-level maths grade, the Department will prefer applicants with Grade 7/A‚ in GCSE Mathematics.

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.


Typical offer range

As a guide, here are the typical offers made to at least 80% of A-level applicants for 2019 entry:

  • Three A-level offer: AAA–A*AA

Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)

If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.

The practical endorsement is part of the reformed English linear A-levels.


Language requirement

The Department has a wide range of world-leading partner universities, both within and outside of the Erasmus programme.

There are many placement opportunities in English-speaking counties, and some European partners teach courses in English. For these opportunities foreign language competency is not required.

Please note you are required to demonstrate competency in a relevant foreign language where placements are at institutions which teach in a language other than English.


Additional Mathematics support

Our new A-level Mathematics online course covers a range of key topic areas to help you gain a deeper understanding of the skills and techniques required to succeed in your A-level Mathematics exams.

This optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus with the aim of developing your thinking skills, fluency and confidence.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is available free of charge via the EdX website. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

International Baccalaureate

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2021 entry is 38 points overall, to include grade 6 in two of the following subjects at higher level:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made to at least 80% of IB applicants for 2019 entry was 38-39 points overall.


Language requirement

The Department has a wide range of world-leading partner universities, both within and outside of the Erasmus programme.

There are many placement opportunities in English-speaking counties, and some European partners teach courses in English. For these opportunities foreign language competency is not required.

Please note you are required to demonstrate competency in a relevant foreign language where placements are at institutions which teach in a language other than English.


Mathematics Higher Level for award in 2021

For entry in 2021, the Mathematics Analysis and Approaches or the Applications and Interpretation syllabi will be accepted at higher level with no preference.


Additional Mathematics support

We have recently launched an A-level Mathematics online course, which is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Advanced Placements

The grades detailed below are the minimum requirements for students offering only Advanced Placements as their exams for entry to Imperial.

If you are studying a High School Diploma that is accepted by Imperial alongside Advanced Placements, requirements may apply to both your Diploma and Advanced Placements.

Please consult our country index to check whether we accept your High School Diploma programme for admission.

Our minimum requirement for this course is grade 5 in three of the following subjects:

  • Calculus (AB or BC)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

You may also require a relevant language qualification for this year abroad degree.


Additional Mathematics support

We have recently launched an A-level Mathematics online course, which is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Selection process

Assessing your application

Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant. Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones.


Post-application open day and interview

If your UCAS application indicates that you are likely to satisfy our requirements you will be invited for an online interview.

You will be introduced to the Department, the staff, our courses, teaching facilities and methods and life at College by staff and our current students. You will have an interview online with a member of the academic staff.

The interview is a chance for us to get to know each other, and we consider all aspects of your application fully when deciding whether to make you an offer. We will also take the comments of the staff member who has interviewed you into account, particularly when we decide after A-levels whether to confirm a place should you marginally fail to meet the terms of your offer.


Pilot admissions schemes (Home students)

From 2020 entry, we will be using information about our applicants in a number of new pilot admissions schemes, to consider the wider context of Home students from groups underrepresented at the College.

More about pilot admissions schemes

Foundation programmes

A foundation course is a one-year preparation course, designed for international students, which leads to undergraduate programmes in the UK. Foundation programmes are normally for school-leavers who have studied a non-British curriculum but wish to pursue a degree at a UK university.

Foundation programmes are offered by many UK universities, but only two would be considered for entry to Imperial: 

  1. UCL’s Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE), and 
  2. Warwick’s International Foundation Programme (IFP) in Science & Engineering

UCL UPCSE

A year-long programme for international students whose school leaving qualifications do not allow them direct entry to UK universities. Students must complete four modules across the year – two compulsory and two elective modules:

ModuleStatus
Research and Academic Skills: Science and Society Compulsory
Academic English Compulsory
Biology Elective
Chemistry Elective
Mathematics Elective
Physics Elective
Information correct at time of publishing, but subject to change
Summary of the table's contents

To be considered for admission to Earth Science and Engineering, international students studying UCL UPCSE must achieve:

  • 80% overall
  • 80% in two modules from Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry or Physics

Warwick IFP Science and Engineering

A year-long programme for international students whose school leaving qualifications do not allow them direct entry to UK universities. 

To be considered for admission to Earth Science and Engineering, international students studying Warwick IFP Science and Engineering must achieve:

  • 80% overall
  • 80% in two modules from Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry or Physics

To meet these requirements, students should choose from the following IFP pathways:

  • Life Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students who apply for this course.

For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.

View our terms and conditions on visas.

Tuition fees and funding

We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.

Home rate of tuition

2021 entry

£9,250 per year.

Year abroad

£1,385 for that year.

Read more about funding for year abroad placements.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts. For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status. Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status. Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

Government funding

If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course.

You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.

EU/EEA students

The Government has confirmed that EU students who begin a course in the 2020–21 academic year (until the end of July 2021) will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

Students from the EU, other EEA country and/or Switzerland starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate, and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note this does not apply to Irish students or students with Citizens Rights benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively.

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

Overseas rate of tuition

2021 entry

£33,750 per year. 

Year abroad

100% of the relevant fee for that year.

Read more about funding for year abroad placements.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts. For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status. Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status. Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA students

The Government has confirmed that EU students who begin a course in the 2020–21 academic year (until the end of July 2021) will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

Students from the EU, other EEA country and/or Switzerland starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate, and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note this does not apply to Irish students or students with Citizens Rights benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively.

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

Additional course costs

This section outlines additional costs relevant to this course. These are not included in your tuition fees. It's possible that all, or only some, of these will be relevant to you.

Figures are approximated, usually based on costs in the most recent academic year. They are likely to change each year but it's useful for you to be aware of the things you may have to pay for. This can help you budget for life at Imperial.

Mandatory costs are those that you will need to pay to fully participate in and complete your studies. Optional costs are not essential to your studies so you can opt-out of these.


Summary
DescriptionMandatory/optionalGuide to cost
Field trips (travel and accommodation on other field trips) Mandatory Varies
Field trips (food on fully catered trips) Mandatory £25 per week
Fieldwork equipment and clothing Mandatory £150
Personal Protective Equipment Mandatory Provided
Travel costs and living expenses such as accommodation (year abroad) Mandatory Varies
Travel and health insurance (year abroad) Mandatory Varies
Please review the information below for more information on the costs listed in the table.

Mandatory costs associated with the Year Abroad

If you spend an academic year abroad, you will retain your student status at Imperial so that you will normally remain eligible for the same loans and grants that you would receive in the UK. As an exchange student, you will not pay tuition fees to the host institution abroad.

Field trips

Please note that all field trips referenced on this page are included in the cost of tuition, except for a contribution to food costs on fully catered trips (currently approx. £25/week) and the Year 2 independent mapping project which Geology students undertake in a location of their choice. The cost of this project varies depending upon location but typically ranges from £0 – £800, with a median price of around £400. The project can be cost-free if undertaken in a location close to home.

Fieldwork equipment and clothing

You can purchase or hire geological equipment from the Department, including Compass-clinometer, Hand lens, and Geological Hammer. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing personal protective equipment is compulsory for some activities on this course. Where this applies, the Department of Earth Science and Engineering will provide you with the necessary PPE free of charge.

Placements and year abroad

If you are undertaking a placement or year abroad, you may have to consider the costs involved. These will vary, depending on the location of your year abroad or placement.

Costs may include flights, transport, visas, travel insurance, health insurance and living expenses such as accommodation.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

Most Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across different accommodation options.

Read our rough guide to university spending in London.

Careers

Besides obtaining the core knowledge and skills necessary for a career in the earth science, graduates of the new programme will gain specialist understanding and practical skills in geological, geochemical and geophysical aspects of planetary science.

This bespoke training will ensure that you are well placed to pursue a research careers in planetary science, and will have gained the breadth of knowledge required to undertake a broad range of space‐related employment.

Our three-year BSc degrees are excellent preparation for careers in geosciences and other professions, especially if followed by a relevant MSc and a research degree.

Our four-year MSci degrees provide a deeper understanding of the subject and the chance to undertake a significant research project.

Many of our graduates go onto further study either by doing focused MSc degrees or undertaking research on a PhD programme.

Other recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Geologist, CD Capital / Prairie Mining
  • Geosolutions Geophysicist, Schlumberger
  • Research Assistant, Natural History Museum

The growing importance of earth science in tackling some of the world’s most significant challenges means that the job prospects for our graduates have never been better.

Our three-year BSc degrees are excellent preparation for careers in geosciences and other professions, especially if followed by a relevant MSc and a research degree. Our four-year MSci degrees provide a deeper understanding of the subject and the chance to undertake a significant research project.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Graduate Environmental Scientist, Mott MacDonald
  • Environmental Advisor, BP
  • Geologist, CD Capital / Prairie Mining
  • Geosolutions Geophysicist, Schlumberger
  • Research Assistant, Natural History Museum

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: F601
  • UCAS institution code: I50

UCAS Apply system

To apply to study at Imperial you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can view this course on the UCAS website.

Application deadlines

All applications, other than those which include choices for medicine at Imperial, must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2021 for entry in October 2021.

The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2021 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2020.

Tracking your application

Once you’ve completed and submitted your application through UCAS’s online Apply service, you can use UCAS’ Track system to follow its progress and manage your choices.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:

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Read our terms and conditions for these areas: