Undergraduate Degrees, Department of Earth Science and Engineering

Hear from students and teachers about our Geology, Geophysics and Earth and Planetary Science programmes, including field-based teaching and research opportunities. Please note that this video was filmed before the Covid-19 social distancing requirements. Due to Covid-19, some teaching including field-based teaching may be remote in Academic Year 20/21. 

Key facts

We are looking forward to welcoming students in October 2020.

Total expected intake
80 (2019 entry)

Applications : Admissions ratio
4: 1 (based on 2018 entry data)

Research Excellence Framework
2nd in the UK based on proportion of world-leading research

Meet Laura Jackson, an undergraduate Geology student at Imperial. Hear what led her to choose Geology and what she’s enjoyed about her course so far

Autumn Term 2020

The undergraduate courses will begin on schedule in the Autumn and we plan to reopen our campuses. We are looking forward to seeing you in person, if travel and visa arrangements allow. If you can’t travel to campus in time for the start of term, we want to reassure you that we have made plans which make it possible to offer you a high-quality remote educational experience during the Autumn term. 

Your teaching will be a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote learning (online). We call this ‘multi-mode’ delivery.Depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the ‘multi-mode’ balance may be subject to change. We hope to be able to offer you increased on-campus or in-person teaching and learning activities throughout the year. 

For more information about multi-mode delivery, your learning experience and the steps we’ll be taking to keep you safe on campus if you are able to join us, please see the Programme Details for Academic Year 2020-21, our Covid 19 information for applicants and offer holders page or contact Lizzie Day, Admissions Tutor. 

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. Modern geoscience is moving beyond the confines of Planet Earth to explore the geological and geophysical processes that shaped the Solar System, and from 2019 we offer a new degree, "Earth and Planetary Science".

Our dynamic and friendly Department brings together ground-breaking research and innovative teaching in geology, geophysics, mineral and energy resources, environmental science, planetary science and computational modelling. 

We are based within the Royal School of Mines building (virtual department tour) and have excellent teaching and learning resources, including an international online database of rocks and minerals (the Rock Library) and industry-standard geology and geophysics software packages.

Our location gives us easy access to one of the finest fossil and mineral collections in the world, hosted at the Natural History Museum, just minutes away from the South Kensington Campus. Museum staff, who are world experts in geochemistry, mineralogy, mineral resources and palaeontology, also contribute to our teaching.  Read student profiles to learn more about what it is like to study within our dynamic Department.

Two students studying.


Three-year courses (180 ECTS):

Four-year courses (240 ECTS, except F663 which is 270 ECTS):

Y - approved

Undergraduate course information

Choosing the right course for you

All students study a very similar syllabus in years one and two. Click here for the Course Module outline 2018-19.

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.
For students with a particular interest in physics and maths we offer specialist courses in Geophysics – using maths, physics and computer modelling to understand how the world works. You can also diversify your studies with opportunities to study Business, language and humanities courses if you wish.

All of our courses advocate minimal environmental impact. Students who are keen on environmental science are advised to study the geology degree and to take the specialist environmental options in years 3 and 4.
You will also need to decide whether to study a 3 or 4 year course. We also offer programmes with year studying abroad.

You may transfer between all our Geology and Geophysics courses up to the start of spring term in year 1 if you meet the original entry requirements for the degree you want to transfer to. Transfer onto our Year Abroad courses is not normally allowed as places at our partner institutions are limited. Transfer to the equivalent three-year BSc course is normally allowed until the end of the autumn term of the third year.

Visit us

Want to know more about the Department and studying here? Then come along to:


Depending on their undergraduate course, our students can spend over 100 days in the field as part of their degree. This can range from a day in Leicestershire, to 10 days in the Pyrenees, and to 6 weeks mapping the geology of areas such as the: Greek cycladees, French Massif Central, Pyrenees, French Alps, NW Scotland, and others.

Find out more about our undergraduate field courses.

All our taught fieldtrips are free to students, but we are not able to cover the costs of the independent mapping project, which geology students undertake at the end of their second year. Costs for this vary with area, but are typically in the £700-1100 range. Students can often reduce or negate this cost by negotiating a shorter accommodation contract in London; in addition departmental hardship funds are available to provide assistance.

Career prospects

A degree in the geosciences opens up a wide range of career options and a world of exploration. Imperial graduates currently have a 94 % employment rate and have average starting salaries that rank among the highest in the country. One of the reasons for this is that scientists are highly skilled. Geoscientists in particular are:

  • Literate and numerate, with a broad scientific knowledge base
  • Critical and integrative thinkers
  • Creative problem solvers, often with incomplete information/data
  • Excellent at combining theoretical and practical work
  • Both team players and independent workers

You can read about the wide range of careers that our graduates have gone to here.

Our ranking and teaching excellence

The department is regularly ranked the best geoscience department in the country.

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019
The Guardian University League Tables 2020
The Complete University Guide 2020
The Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial has ranked 1st place as the top UK Geology department in The Times and The Sunday Times University League Table 2019 The Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial has ranked 1st place in the Guardian University League Tables 2020, for Earth and Marine Sciences, with a total score of 100%. The Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial has ranked 2nd place for Geology in the Complete University Guide 2020 League Tables. 
Summary of ESE rankings

See the Why Imperial? website for full details on the College and Department's position in league tables.

Within the Department you will find all our staff are committed to ensuring a world class education for all our students.  During our practical classes our Lecturers and Academics are supported by numerous PhD Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA’s) who offer our students fantastic additional support.  This is highlighted by the fact that in 2016, the Department’s GTA of the year Robin Thomas was also awarded the Imperial College London “Faculty of Engineering Highly Commended GTA of the Year award”.  See more about our teaching excellence here.