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Geology (BSc)

  • F600

3 years (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

The evolution of the Earth and the life it supports is a key subject of human enquiry. This is why geologists and earth scientists are much sought after in many professions because of their global view of natural processes. Our BSc in Geology provides you with a broad view of the physical, geochemical and biological processes that formed planet Earth, its oceans, atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. You will learn how to observe this history within rock outcrops and interpret the processes controlling Earth's structure and environments.


A key component of this course is fieldwork. You will travel to a number of classic localities both in the UK and abroad. On these excursions you will learn how to record observations, to analyse and interpret a wide range of rocks and structures in the field, and be trained in making a geological map. Our field courses are specifically designed to focus on key themes, such as the origins of oceanic crust, the development of sedimentary basins and their oil and gas potential, and the growth and collapse of mountain belts. In Year 1 the main location visited is Pembrokeshire while in Year 2 you will visit SW England and northern Spain. In Year 3 you visit Cyprus where all that you have learnt previously can be synthesised into a picture that truly shows the nature of our dynamic earth.

Key Facts

UCAS Code F600
Duration 3 years
How to apply
Accreditation  Geological Society of London
Typical places available The School admits 150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, usually between 40-45 on its Geology programmes.
Typical applications received 850
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer ABB
Admissions Tutors Dr Jennifer Pike
Tel Number 029 2087 4830
Email address
School website

In this broad-based, accredited degree you will learn how to read the rocks, assess the processes involved in their formation, be able to reconstruct past environments and interpret how life evolved.

A key component of this course is fieldwork. You will travel to a number of classic localities: current field excursions run to areas both in the UK and abroad (Spain and Cyprus). On these excursions you will learn how to record observations, to analyse and interpret a wide range of rocks and structures in the field, and be trained in making a geological map. Our field courses are specifically designed to focus on key themes, such as the origins of oceanic crust, the development of sedimentary basins and their oil and gas potential, and the growth and collapse of mountain belts.


Year 1

The course structure is very flexible. All Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Science degree programmes share a common first Semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in Earth Sciences upon which to build. At the end of your first Semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's Earth Science degrees.

You will study the following modules:

  • The Sedimentary System
  • Life Through Time
  • Earth and Planetary System Science
  • Fieldwork
  • Earth Science Skills
  • Natural Resources and Energy
  • Geological Maps, Sections & Structures
  • Dangerous Earth
  • Earth Materials
  • Formation of the British Isles

Year 2

You take a suite of modules which is aimed at providing the basic tools for understanding geology and for fieldwork.

You will study the following modules:

  • Field Skills in Geology
  • Geological Resources (ores, minerals, oil & energy)
  • Structural Geology
  • Palaeoecology
  • Applied GIS
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Metamorphic Geology
  • Sedimentary Petrogenesis and Stratigraphy
  • Igneous Geology
  • Earth Surface Processes
  • Geophysical Exploration

Extensive field training during this year includes residential trips to Dorset, Cornwall and Spain, during these trips you will learn a wide range of practical skills that are an essential training for geologists.

In your summer between Years 2 and 3 you will undertake a five-week independent mapping project in the UK or overseas.

Year 3

In your third year, you will write up a dissertation on your mapping project. You will also follow core modules in Dynamic Earth, plus an overseas field course to Cyprus.

You can also choose specialist final-year modules from the following:

  • Marine Microfossils
  • Global Geomorphology
  • Palaeobiology
  • Water Resources
  • Engineering Geology
  • Global Climate Change
  • Advanced Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
  • Structural Techniques
  • Volcanic and Magmatic Processes
  • Petroleum Geology and Basin Analysis

Visit the Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences website for more information about modules and credits.

Below is the first in our mini-series of podcasts. It is a self-contained, engaging, fast-paced and fun introduction to a particular aspect of ancient oceans. The series aims to uncover surprising and little-known facts, highlighting the importance of the science to our understanding of the world and the impacts of human activities including climate change. The series contains five podcasts, if you would like to see more then please follow the links on our Youtube page.

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching in the Earth Sciences.  This educational experience is enhanced by frontier earth scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, involved in national and international research programmes, teaching alongside its students as they learn.  This team ensures students receive the highest quality teaching, delivered by lecturers at the cutting edge of international research. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree programmes.  These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry focussed exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water borne marine geography.  The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen programme in January of your first year.  Thus there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree programme or pathway.

Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods –

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork – both on land and for the Marine Geography students on the sea in the School’s own research vessel too

Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and “learning how to learn”.  Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips.  All students are assigned a tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in Year 1 and monthly during other years.  Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advice on both academic and pastoral matters.

As well as conventional BSc programmes, an optional one year industrial placement is available for some of the BSc degrees.  These placements provide an opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries.  Students are supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a ‘Year Out’. The four year MESci schemes focus on research training and critical analysis making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions.

Most modules will contain some element of course work so the ability to work independently is crucial.  Formal unseen exams and presentations are a key component of the way you are assessed.  You will also undertake group work and project work, with all students producing a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choosing in the final year.

Typical A-level Offer


At least one A-level one should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths

Typical WBQ Offer  Grade A in the Core, plus grades AB at A-level. At least one A-level should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths
Typical Int Bacc Offer  30-32 points, including at least one Science at Higher Level
Other Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

In 2010, 51% of the School’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 20% were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel.

Employers included: local government plus companies and organisations such as the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency, Digirock, Hummingbird Resources and BHP Billiton.

Typical career destinations for graduates in Geology include engineering geologist, exploration geologist, reservoir geologist, survey geologist, mineralogist, mineral exploration, geological consultant, field mapping, oil geologist, mining software analyst, geophysical surveying, water industry.

Careers case studies

Adam Hughes – BSc Geology 2009
Working for AngloAmerican in the coalfields of North Queensland. Job involves visiting remote sites in the Australian outback to log, sample and test strata from deep underground to help project subsurface 3D models of potential coal reserves.

Adam says: “The classes and learning environment in the School are second to none and there was always help from any number of great minds, no matter what the problem. Studying at Cardiff Uni was the best decision I have ever made and has taken me to places I’d always dreamed of going!”

Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, giving our students hands on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching. Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.


You will be out in the field with us during the first week of teaching, taking part in a variety of induction events which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your programme in informal surroundings, meet some of your lectures away from the constrains of the classroom and see some of our local field areas.

Throughout Year 1 you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential fieldtrip to Pembrokeshire, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and structural analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in Year 2, as a Geology student you will go on residential trips to Dorset, Penzance and Spain as well as undertake various local day field trips. We will train you how to accurately make and record field observations, take field measurements and produce professional reports. All skills highly sought after by employers.

Between Year 2 and Year 3 all students undertake a five week individual project. As a Geologist you will do a mapping project (working in a pair in various national and international locations – current mapping areas include Spain, France, Scotland, North Wales, The Pennines). Every student will get supervision from a member of staff and currently all students get a visit in the field.

In your final year the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focussing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you will undertake field day trips to local areas and also a residential trip to Cyprus where amongst other things you will be interpreting ophiolites and tectonics in this iconic area.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Jenny Pike  




School Website:

More information

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences