Earth Sciences studentsUCAS code: F663
ECTS: 285
Start date: October 2017
Duration: 4 years full-time

LocationSouth Kensington

Petroleum geoscience uses a fundamental understanding of the Earth and its past to find and responsibly exploit petroleum resources, with minimal environmental impact.

The Department of Earth Science and Engineering is one of the world's leading centres that combines the study of geoscience and engineering.

About the course


Our four-year MSci degree in Petroleum Geoscience aims to understand the Earth and how its interior, surface and atmosphere interact.

Geologists and Geophysicists understand the Earth and other planets through observation and data collection, and make inferences based on understanding of fundamental scientific principles

You gain interdisciplinary skills in physics, maths, chemistry, engineering and the geosciences to provide an understanding of present challenges and possible solutions.

The programme is designed for students with a specific interest in mathematics and physics, and the application of physical laws to the study of the Earth. Greater emphasis is therefore placed on mathematics and physics subjects and modelling techniques.

The integrated, modular nature of our courses enables you to achieve a solid understanding of geosciences whilst also tailoring the degree course to suit your individual interests.

The fourth year is a specialised programme of studies focused towards the petroleum sector, providing in-depth knowledge of issues facing the sector, and ensuring graduates are well-placed to address them.

You will gain experience with technical equipment while undertaking fieldworkThe interdisciplinary nature of the course means that, as well as taking a specific interest in mathematics and physics, you will complete a range of computing modules in order to use specialist electronic mapping packages.

Our four-year MSci degrees incorporate a significant research project, and require fewer years of work experience to apply for Chartership of the Geological Society.

Transfer between degrees

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.


Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

All of our Geophysics degrees share a common programme of studies for the first two years, which is divided into 50% theoretical, 25% practical and 25% coursework.

Year 1

In the first year, you will take advanced maths and physics classes with an emphasis on calculus, statistics and mensuration, as well as the subjects studied by Geoscience students, with an introduction to programming in both Python and Matlab.

You can expect:

  • A broad introduction to geology and geophysics
  • To cover subjects you have not previously studied
  • To learn to study independently in a university environment

You will learn basic geological principles, and go on several short field trips in the UK and a two-week Rio Tinto Urra field trip to Spain.

You complete all of the core modules from all four areas below:

Theory 1
  • Dynamic Earth 1
  • Earth Materials and Stratigraphy
  • Maths Methods 1
  • Physical Processes
Theory 2
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Processes
  • Surface Processes
  • Solid Earth Geochemistry
  • Life and Earth History
  • Optical Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Programming for Geoscientists
  • Structural Geology 1
  • Graphics and Statistics for Geoscientists
  • Earth Materials and Stratigraphy
  • Introduction to Field Geology
  • Field Geology 1
  • Projects, Tutorials and Workshops 1

Year 2

In your second year you can expect to:

  • Deepen your knowledge of core geophysical subjects
  • Apply physical laws to geological questions
  • Enhance your written and research skills

You will gain advanced knowledge of geophysical methods and processing techniques, particularly seismic imaging.

You will continue to study and deepen your knowledge of major branches of geological science, such as:

  • Vibrations and Waves
  • Earth Resources
  • Global Geophysics, Earth Structure and Tectonics
  • Advanced Maths courses, Time Series Analysis
  • Applied Geophysics
  • Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Structural Geology, Geochemistry, Seismology

You study all of the core modules listed below in the four different groups:

Theory 1
  • Applied Geophysics 1
  • Global Geophysics
  • Igneous 1
  • Sedimentary Geology
Theory 2
  • Earth Resources
  • Low Temperature Geochemistry
  • Palaeontology or Maths Methods 2
  • Structural Geology
  • Metamorphic 1
  • Rocks Master Class
  • Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Structural Geology 2
  • Field Geology 2
  • Field Geology 3
  • Projects, Tutorials and Workshops 2

Year 3

In the third year you can expect to:

  • Practise geophysical measuring techniques and interpret data
  • Enhance your report writing and research skills

You will have the choice of a range of optional modules, with few core modules, allowing you to specialise in an area of geophysics you're interested in.


You choose four modules from the list below:

  • Basins and Tectonics
  • Climate
  • Ice and Fire
  • Seismic Techniques
  • Solar System Geoscience
Optional modules

You choose six modules in total from the below lists:

Offered every year
  • Dynamic Stratigraphy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Mining Water and Waste Management
  • Thermodynamics
Alternate year 1
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Igneous 2
  • Impact Cratering
  • Marine Stratigraphy
  • Minerals Processing
  • Palaeoceanography
Alternate year 2
  • Advanced Applied Geophysics
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Earth Systems
  • Geodynamics
  • Geohazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrothermal and ore forming processes
  • Palaeo and Environmental magnetism
  • Physical Oceanography
Business and Humanities

You will have the choice of modules from Imperial Horizons and the Business School to broaden your studies.

Independent Project and ESS
  • Independent Geology Project
  • Earth Science Synthesis
Coursework, Practical and Synposis
  • Earth Science General Paper
  • EPEX Business Simulation
  • Hydrogeology & Fluid Flow 1

Year 4

Your fourth year of study is divided into three main areas: coursework (25%), examinations (50%) and independent project (25%).

  • Reservoir Characterisation Fieldtrip & Group Project
  • Exploration Geoscience Group Project - "Barrel Award"
  • US Fieldtrip
  • Production Geoscience
  • Petrophysics & Seismic Techniques
  • Basin Analysis & Tectonics
  • Applied Sedimentology
  • Exploration Geoscience

During the study of Production Geoscience you cover: Development Geology, Geostatistics, Petroleum Engineering, Hydrocarbon Reserves, Faults and Fractures and have a field trip to North Somerset.

Exploration Geoscience covers Petroleum Systems, Seismic Interpretation, Resource Plays, Play Fairway Analysis and a fieldtrip to Derbyshire.

Independent project

Your independent project will form 25% of your fourth year, rely on substantial independent study, and be based in a relevant area suited to your interests.

Teaching and assessment


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

You can expect to be taught in lectures, tutorials, participate in group exercises, spend time in the laboratory and conduct fieldwork.

For each module you will have a designated coordinator, who will be a lecturer, senior lecturer or professor.

You receive tutorial time with post-doctoral research assistants/ fellows, who will themselves be researching specialised areas of geology and geophysics at doctoral level, 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. Your third- and fourth-year modules are therefore taught by senior lecturers, professors and experts in the field.


Your first two years are divided into 4 equally weighted areas:

  • Theory 1 (25%)
  • Theory 2 (25%)
  • Practical (25%)
  • Coursework (25%)

In the third year, you will continue to find your study divided into 4 areas:

  • Theory 1 (20%)
  • Optional modules (30%)
  • Independent Project and ESS (30%)
  • Coursework, Practical and Synopsis (20%)

The number in brackets is the proportion of assessment from that academic year made up by the group.

You must achieve an average mark of 40% in each of the above areas in order to progress from one academic year to the next. In the fourth year you must achieve 50% in each element.

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

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

Key Information Set (KIS)

Details about how this course is taught and assessed are provided in the KIS (key information set).

The KIS is a set of statistics which all universities use to describe how their courses are taught and assessed. This allows students to compare similar courses at different institutions.

The KIS describes the percentage of time which students typically spend in timetabled activity and in independent study for each year of their course as well the percentage of assessment which is exams, coursework or practical. An overview of the KIS is shown in the widget at the bottom of the page and further detail (including a year-by-year breakdown) is available via Unistats.

Field trips

You can spend over 100 days in the field, depending on which Earth Science Engineering course you choose.

There is a comprehensive guide of the wide-range of locations on offer on the Department of Earth Science and Engineering website.

Students have previously spent time out in the field in:

  • Dorset, UK
  • Almeria, Spain
  • Pyrenees, Spain
  • Scottish Highlands, UK
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Apennines and Elba, Italy

The additional costs associated with trips are included in your tuition fees.

That means that you do not have to pay to get to your field trips, or pay expenses such as accommodation.

See additional costs below for more information.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis. If your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page, which gives the minimum entry requirements for a range of international qualifications.


Our minimum requirement is AAA overall, to include at at least two of the following subjects:

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

Candidates for the Geology and Geophysics degree are recommended to have at least an AS-level in Physics.

Candidates for Geophysics courses must offer both Mathematics and Physics A-levels at Grade A.

All candidates admitted without an A-level in an important science subject (e.g. Chemistry) are provided with additional subject teaching in the first year. About 20% of the students we admit have a Geology A-level, but this is not a requirement.

Applicants must also show that they are proficient in mathematical skills, by attaining GCSE grade A, or an AS-level at grade B or better.

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.

International Baccalaureate

Our minimum requirement is 38 points overall, including at least 6 in two of the following subjects at higher level:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geography

For those wishing to apply for Geophysics courses, we require a minimum of 38 points overall, including at least 6 in Mathematics and Physics at higher level.

Other qualifications

We welcome UK applicants, those from elsewhere in the European Union and from further overseas. All students normally need to have three A-level passes or the equivalent in International or European Baccalaureates, Scottish Advanced Highers, or the Irish Leaving Certificate.

Other qualifications designed for university entrance, such as Hong Kong A-levels, may be acceptable, and students with other competencies will be considered. If you have any questions about whether specific qualifications or subject combinations are acceptable, please contact the Admissions Tutor.

English language requirements (all applicants)

All applicants 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.

Selection process

We place great emphasis on interview and take other qualities as well as academic ability into account.

We will normally invite you to visit the Department if your UCAS application shows you are likely to satisfy our requirements and you live within reasonable travelling distance of the College.

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 and we will make offers in writing.

We will take the comments of the staff member who has met you or spoken to you by telephone into account when we make you an offer, and when we decide after A-levels whether to confirm our offer should you marginally fail to satisfy the entry requirements that we have offered you.

Tuition fees and funding

Home and EU students

2017 entry:

£9,250 per year

The UK government has confirmed that universities that have achieved a ‘meet expectations’ award – which includes Imperial – will, under the first year of the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), be able to raise their fees in 2017. The rise is an inflationary amount of 2.8% to a maximum of £9,250. The measure of inflation used is RPI-X (the retail price index, excluding mortgage interest payments). You should expect the fee to increase beyond 2017 for each year that your course lasts, subject to UK government regulations on fee increases.

The UK government has also confirmed that EU students starting or continuing their studies in the 2017–18 academic year will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition fees for the duration of their course. EU students will also remain eligible for the same government funding support as they are now, including the Tuition Fee Loan. This access to government funding will continue throughout your course, even if the UK exits the EU during this time. 

Islands and overseas students

2017 entry:

£27,750 per year

Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year.

Government funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation. Find out more about fee status assessments.

Home and EU students (with the exception of Graduate Medicine students) can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the Government to cover the full cost of their fees each year.

Home students may also be eligible for a Maintenance Loan to help with their living costs.

Additional costs

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study which have to be budgeted for in addition to tuition fees and living expenses. This section provides examples of these and it is possible that all, or some, of these will be relevant to you.

Please note that the cost figures given are based on what such costs were in previous academic years and these are likely to change 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 cost in previous years.

This section details whether the additional costs are essential or optional. Essential costs are highlighted as costs that you will need to pay to fully participate and complete your studies. Optional costs are not essential to your studies and you will be free to opt out of these.

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 and some Geology and Geophysics students, undertake in a location of their choice. Costs vary by location.

Geological equipment

You can purchase or hire geological equipment from the Department. In the 2016-17 academic year students paid £70 for Compass-clinometer, Hand lens and Geological Hammer. If they wish, students can return these in reasonable condition at a point later in their degree programme when they are no longer needed for a refund of the same amount.

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.

Bursaries and scholarships

Imperial Bursary

The Imperial Bursary is available to any Imperial Home undergraduate student (except Graduate Medicine students) whose household income falls below £60,000 per year.

It is designed to ease the cost of London living by providing support on a sliding scale, from £2,000 up to £5,000 per year.

As long as your household income remains below £60,000 you will automatically qualify for a bursary for every year of undergraduate study.

The bursary is paid on top of any government loans to which you are entitled and does not need to be paid back. Find out more about the Imperial Bursary.


Our President’s Undergraduate scholarships are available to all undergraduate applicants studying an undergraduate degree for the first time who have applied to the College by 15 October.

They’re worth £1,000 for each undergraduate year of study. There are up to 112 awards available for students starting their studies in 2017–18.

A wide range of other scholarships is also available. Find out which scholarships you may be eligible for by using our scholarships search tool.

To find out more about the range of financial support available please see our Fees and Funding website.

How to apply

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).

The UCAS code for Imperial College London is I50.

Application deadlines

All applications which include choices for medicine at Imperial must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2016 for entry in October 2017. 

The deadline for other courses at Imperial starting in 2017 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2017.

Students at a school/college registered with UCAS

All UK schools and colleges and a small number of EU and international institutions are registered with UCAS.

To make it clear which school or college you are applying from you will need to ask one of your teachers or advisers for the UCAS buzzword. You will need to enter this in UCAS’s Apply system when you register.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

Independent applicants and students at schools/colleges not registered with UCAS

If you’re applying independently or from a school/college not registered with UCAS you will still need to use UCAS’s Apply system. You will not need a UCAS buzzword.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

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

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

Tracking your application

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

Professional accreditation and associateship

This degree is professionally accredited by the Geological Society.

It also leads to the award of the Associateship of the Royal School of Mines (ARSM).

What our graduates do

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. MSci graduates also require fewer years of work experience to apply for Chartership of the Geological Society.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Geophysicist, Schlumberger
  • Structural Geology Consultant, Midland Valley
  • Graduate Geoscientist, EGS Asia Ltd
  • Environmental Consultant, Waterman Group
  • Research Assistant, Natural History Museum

Information for offer holders for 2017

This section lists the changes that have been made to information about this course on this page since the UCAS application process opened on 1 September 2016.

All core modules are displayed on this page; the optional modules represent an indicative list of those that are likely to be available rather than all optional modules that will be offered every year. As a result, the changes recorded here only apply to the modules displayed on this page rather than all available on this course.

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.

There are currently no changes to record for this course. Keep checking back for future updates.