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: AAA

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

TBC

Based on 2018 entry data

  • UCAS course code: F647
  • ECTS: 240
  • Start date: October 2020

Overview

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

The abundance of recent planetary missions together with the development of novel techniques in studying extraterrestrial materials and processes is yielding radical new insights into Solar System evolution.

Forthcoming planetary exploration missions offer numerous new opportunities to learn about planetary origins and evolution.

This new degree in Earth and Planetary Science focuses on geological and geophysical processes in the Solar System, with particular emphasis on the planets, moons and smaller bodies, such as asteroids and comets.

It firstly provides you with a strong theoretical and practical foundation in earth science, and then teaches you how to apply that to planetary science. Our goal is to teach you how dust and gas in the early stages of Solar System formation eventually evolved into planets including Earth that is capable of supporting life.

You will focus on understanding Earth and other solid bodies in the solar system. 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.

That foundation is then applied to other solid planetary bodies, to help understand solar system formation and evolution, and 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 analyzing pictures from rovers on the martian surface?
  • Where is the best place to search for life in the Solar System?

This highly interdisciplinary degree provides skills in geoscience, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and computing.

All our courses combine a strong traditional emphasis on observational and field skills with modern numerical and analytical techniques required for a deep, quantitative understanding of Earth and Planetary processes and systems. Field skills are important for studying planetary geology because, for example, analysis of Mars rover-derived data focusses on the identification, mapping and interpretation of geological relationships in the search for the best rocks to investigate in the search for possible ancient life.

Our departmental involvement with current and future planetary missions will provide 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. You can expect a balance between theory and practice, including a variety of field trips in the UK and abroad.

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 observational and practical skills.Fieldwork

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

Depending on which degree scheme 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

Please note that the curriculum of this course is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

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 changes we have made.

Year 1

Core modules

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

Optional modules

  • Maths Methods 2 or Life over Deep Time
  • Chemistry for Geoscientists or Low Temperature Geochemistry

Year 2

Core modules

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

Optional modules

  • Rocks and Structures in the field or Field Geophysics or Environmental Geochemistry
  • Sediments and Stratigraphy or Mechanics and Waves
  • Palaeontology and Optical Petrology or Seismology and Numerical Methods
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Geology or Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers

Year 3

Core modules

  • Independent Project
  • Advanced Remote Sensing
  • Collisions and Craters or Meteorites

Optional modules

You choose seven optional modules.

  • Magmatic Processes and Products
  • Gravity, Magnetism and Orbital Dynamics
  • Astrobiology
  • Planetary Chemistry
  • Planetary Physics
  • Geodynamics
  • Planetary Surfaces
  • Collisions and Craters
  • Meteorites
  • Continental Tectonics
  • Climate
  • Seismic Techniques
  • Integrated Advanced Field Geology
  • Science Communication
  • Environmental Seminars
  • Ore Deposits
  • Environmental and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Hydrogeology and Fluid Flow
  • Tectonics of the Oceans
  • Advanced Programming
  • Earth Systems
  • Palaeobiology
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Geohazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Geophysical Inversion
  • Advanced Exploration Geophysics

Specialist planetary science specialist modules are in bold.

You cannot choose two modules of the same name across years three and four.

Year 4

Core modules

  • MSci project
  • Collisions and Craters or Meteorites

Optional modules

You choose five optional modules from below.

  • Magmatic Processes and Products
  • Gravity, Magnetism and Orbital Dynamics
  • Astrobiology
  • Planetary Chemistry
  • Planetary Physics
  • Geodynamics
  • Planetary Surfaces
  • Collisions and Craters
  • Meteorites
  • Field Geology of an Active Mountain Belt
  • Ore Deposits
  • Environmental and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Hydrogeology and Fluid Flow
  • Tectonics of the Oceans
  • Advanced Programming
  • Earth Systems
  • Paleobiology
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Geohazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Geophysical Inversion
  • Advanced Exploration Geophysics

Specialist planetary science specialist modules are in bold.

You cannot choose two modules of the same name across years three and four.


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

Find out more about I-Explore

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

Our Geology courses are both theoretical and practical, and teaching will be enhanced by fieldwork throughout your degree.

You can expect the following teaching methods:

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

Assessment

There are a number of different assessment methods for this course including:

  • Written examination
  • Coursework
  • Reports
  • Poster presentation
  • Seminar
  • Vivas

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 using the Unistats information below.

You can use the Unistats website to find out how this course compares in areas such as student satisfaction and what our graduates are doing six months after completing this 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 2020 entry is AAA overall, to include:

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

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.


Typical offer range

As a guide, here are the typical offers made in 2017-18 to at least 80% of applicants studying A-levels:

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 2020 entry is 38 points overall, to include:

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

Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made in 2017-18 to at least 80% of applicants studying IB was 38–39 points overall.


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. It is the College’s policy to not make offers below three A’s at A-level in relevant subjects, 38 IB points with at least a grade 6 at higher level in relevant subjects, or their equivalent.

A typical range of offers made by this Department in 2017-18 (encompassing at least 80% of applicants who studied A-level or IB) is shown above.


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 three new pilot admissions schemes, to consider the wider context of Home students from groups underrepresented at the College.

Find out more

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.

Tuition fees (Home and EU students)

2020 entry

The fee for Home students is controlled by the UK government and has not yet been confirmed for the 2020–21 academic year.

As a guide, the Home rate of tuition for the 2019–20 academic year was £9,250.

Please note that the fee you pay may increase annually by an amount linked to inflation and approved by Parliament under the Student Fees (Inflation Index) Regulations 2006 – currently the measure of inflation used is the RPIX.

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 UK government has confirmed that EU/EEA students starting at the College in the 2020-21 academic year will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition. EU/EEA students will also continue to have access to UK government funding, including the Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan, for the duration of their course, even if their course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Please see the Imperial and the European Union webpages for further information.

Tuition fees (Overseas and Islands students)

2020 entry

The fee for Overseas and Islands students is controlled by the College and has not yet been confirmed for the 2020–21 academic year.

As a guide, the Overseas and Islands rate of tuition for the 2019–20 academic year was £30,250 per year.

You should expect and budget for your tuition fee increasing each year by an inflationary amount. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2019 will apply to fees for the academic year 2019–2020.

Additional course costs

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

Please note that the figures provided are usually based on the cost in the most recent academic year. These are likely to change from year to year. However, it is useful for you to be aware of the types of things you may have to pay for and their approximate cost to help you budget for student life at Imperial.

This section indicates whether any additional costs that apply are mandatory or optional. 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 will be free to opt out of these.


Summary
DescriptionMandatory/optionalGuide to cost
Field trips (travel and accommodation on other field trips) Optional  Included in tuition fee
Field trips (all fully catered trips) Optional  £25 per week
Fieldwork equipment and clothing Optional  £150
Personal Protective Equipment Mandatory Provided
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. 

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.

Accommodation and living costs

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

Over 90 per cent of Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

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 2020 for entry in October 2020.

The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2020 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2019.

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:

Contact us

Dept

Got a question?

Dr Elizabeth Day
T: +44 (0)20 7594 6478
E: admit.earth@imperial.ac.uk

Read more on the Department of Earth Science and Engineering website.

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