Earth Science and Engineering

Designed to educate and inspire future geoscientists with an interest in planetary science through this integrated Master’s 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: F647
  • ECTS: 240
  • Start date: October 2021

Overview

PlanetEarth and planetary scientists seek to understand the Earth and other planets through observation.

Recent planetary missions and the development of new techniques are giving us radical new insights into Solar System evolution. Future exploration offers new opportunities to learn about planetary origins and evolution.

This degree focuses on geological and geophysical processes in the Solar System. There is a particular emphasis on planets, moons and smaller bodies, such as asteroids and comets. As an interdisciplinary degree, you'll gain skills in geoscience, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and computing.

First you will gain a strong theoretical and practical foundation in earth science. Then you're taught how to apply your knowledge to planetary science. By the end, you will understand how dust and gas evolved into planets such as Earth which are capable of supporting life.

The foundation in earth science will emphasise the fundamentals of geology and geophysics. From this you will learn how Earth’s atmosphere, life, surface, interior and external influences operate, interact and evolve.

You will use this foundation to understand solar system formation and evolution. You'll explore the physics, chemistry and geology of the main solid planetary bodies. Key planetary science questions you will examine include for example:

  • How have collisions shaped planetary surfaces and affected planetary and biological evolution?
  • What does the chemistry of meteorites tell us about planetary body evolution?
  • How can we reconstruct the climate history of Mars from analysing pictures from rovers on the martian surface?
  • Where is the best place to search for life in the Solar System?

All our courses combine a strong emphasis on observational and field skills, developed through field trips. These include modern numerical and analytical techniques required for a deep, quantitative understanding of Earth and planetary processes and systems.

Our department is in involved with current and future planetary missions, providing a unique insight into mission science and the opportunity to study recently acquired data.

We also emphasise the development of transferable professional skills such as group working, problem-solving, drawing inferences from incomplete data, computational methods and IT, and oral and written communication.

Study programme

You follow a pathway of core modules in years one and two, before studying specialised modules in the third and fourth years.

Modules in the first two years are taken alongside students from other Earth Science degrees and focus on the fundamentals of the subject.

You then specialise in your third year, choosing between physics and geology orientated optional modules. Current specialist modules include astrobiology, earth systems, planetary physics, ore deposits and collisions and craters.

There is also a major project in both years, providing a further opportunity to specialise.

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.

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

  • Dynamic Earth and Planets
  • Stratigraphy and Geomaterials
  • Deforming the Earth
  • Physical and Surface Processes
  • Volcanism and Internal Processes
  • Programming for Geoscientists
  • Maths Methods 1

Optional modules

You take three optional modules in total.

  • Maths Methods 2 or Life over Deep Time
  • Chemistry for Geoscientists or Low Temperature Geochemistry
  • Geology in the Field or Field Geology and Thermodynamics

Year 2

Core modules

  • Pure and Applied Geophysics
  • Solar System Science
  • High-temperature Geochemistry
  • Maps and Structures
  • Remote Sensing Earth and Planets

Optional modules

You take four optional modules in total. You will choose three from Group A and one from Group B.

Group A
  • Palaeontology and Optical Petrology
  • Maths for Scientists and Engineers
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Geology
  • Seismology and Numerical Methods
  • Mechanics and Waves
  • Sediments and Stratigraphy
Group B
  • Environmental Geochemistry and Climate Report
  • Rocks and Structures in the Field 
  • Field Geophysics

Year 3

Core modules

  • Independent Project
  • Advanced Remote Sensing
  • I-Explore

Your I-Explore module offers you choices from a range of subjects hosted outside of the department. You will be taught alongside students from other courses with options including business, management and many more.

Optional modules

You take seven optional modules in total.

You will choose two modules from Group A, one from Group B and four from Group C. A maximum of three of these can be level 7 modules from Group C during this year.

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

You cannot take the same module twice in different years.

Year 4

Core modules

  • MSci Independent Project

Optional modules

You choose six optional modules in total.

You can take either module from Group A and five modules from Group B or six modules from Group B. A maximum of three of these can be level 6 modules from Group B which may include an I-Explore module.

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

You can not undertake take the same module twice in different years. 


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

Our Earth and Planetary Science degrees were new for 2019 entry. Usually, a degree can be newly accredited once the first intake of students graduate. This will be in 2022 for our first BSc students and 2023 for our first MSci students.

We will seek retrospective professional accreditation, for students beginning from September 2019.

Accreditation is sought from from these organisations:

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% 5% 5%
Practical 20% 30% 40% 55%
Examination 70% 60% 55% 40%
Based on the typical pathway through the course; percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
 

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:

  • A in Mathematics
  • A in Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology or Physics

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.


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:

  • 6 in Mathematics at higher level
  • 6 at higher level in Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology or 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.


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 grades 5, 5, 5 to include:

  • 5 in Calculus (AB or BC)
  • 5 in Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Biology or Geography
  • 5 in another relevant subject

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 and you live within reasonable travelling distance of the College you will be invited for an interview.

You will be introduced to the Department, the staff, our courses, teaching facilities and methods and life at College through meeting our current students. You will have a one-to-one interview with a member of the academic staff. For overseas applicants, or those unable to visit, we may arrange a telephone interview.

We place great emphasis on interview and take other qualities as well as academic ability into account when deciding whether to make you an offer. We will also take the comments of the staff member who has met you or spoken to you by telephone into account, particularly when we decide after A-levels whether to confirm our offer 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 and Planetary Science international students studying UCL UPCSE must achieve:

  • 80% overall
  • 80% in Mathematics
  • 80% in Physics, 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 and Planetary Science, international students studying Warwick IFP Science and Engineering must achieve:

  • 80% overall
  • 80% in Mathematics
  • 80% in Physics, Chemistry or Biology

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.

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 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.

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 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) Optional Varies
Field trips (food on all fully catered trips) Mandatory  £25 per week during trip
Fieldwork equipment and clothing Mandatory  £150 total
Please review the information below for more information on the costs listed in the table.

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.

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

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: F647
  • 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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