UCAS code: FF6V
Duration: 5 years
College: Science and Engineering
This programme is for students interested in the physical processes that shape the Earth linking physical geography with a deeper understanding of how the Earth works.
It develops an integrated understanding of the Earth as a connected system - the topography of which is developed through the interaction of surface and deep Earth processes. Life, plate tectonics, volcanoes, glaciers, rivers and people ultimately define the modern and ancient landscape.
This quantitative programme is designed to give students the skills and knowledge to interpret the landscape as a result of the interactions between tectonics and erosion, and to understand and predict its evolution over a range of temporal and spatial scales, using a combination of remote sensing (including Geographical Information Systems), laboratory experiments and fieldwork in various settings, which have in recent years included Scotland, Spain and Cyprus.
This five-year programme follows the BSc Geology & Physical Geography programme until the end of Year 4. In Year 5 you will develop your understanding of the Earth system, in particular surface processes and linked interactions around landscape formation and climate change.
This programme develops your research skills, including new methods of data acquisition using state-of-the-art instrumentation and report writing. It provides a solid foundation for a career in earth sciences or further study at PhD level.
This programme is accredited by the Geological Society of London.
Your classes will be taken with other students studying geology, geography and environmental geoscience. In addition to the following compulsory courses, you can take further option courses in different schools or colleges across the University.
Volcanoes, earthquakes, mountain chains and the diversity of the Earth's rocks tell us that the Earth has been a dynamic planet since its formation 4.6 billion years ago. This course aims to impart an understanding of the processes which shape the Earth, and to develop practical skills in recognising the evidence of these processes in rocks, both in the field and in the laboratory.
The course will focus primarily on the materials of which the Earth is made, how the major constituents are distributed between core, mantle and crust and how this changes with time through the agencies of plate tectonics and volcanism. From this viewpoint of underlying process, the course will also consider the inherent availability of natural resources and the potential for predicting natural hazards.
This course is intended as a foundation course for all Earth Science students with emphasis on processes that operate at the global scale. In particular, the concept of the Earth System as the operation of inter-linked components of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere is stressed. This concept is used to study the interaction between geology, chemistry, physics and biology affecting the surface processes of the planet that together form the characteristics of the environment in which we live.
This course will teach 3D mapping and cross-section skills, as well as 4D-thinking abilities. These will be taught via integration of maps with rock identification and the course will also introduce the application of online digital databases (BGS and USGS maps; DEM; radar interferometry; remote sensing imagery) in solving global geological problems. There is an integrated field trip (one week), which is currently to the Lake District, England, to develop your field skills.
In addition to the following compulsory courses, you can take further optional courses in different schools or colleges across the University.
In Geomaterials we investigate the solid materials which constitute the Earth. We study how atoms are arranged in crystalline materials and how these arrangements influence physical properties, and ultimately, control how our planet functions. The complex relationships between mineral structure, composition, properties and stability are then investigated as we consider the main materials which make up the surface of the solid Earth, and how the study of Geomaterials is used to understand processes which have shaped the Earth through time.
This course develops the concepts of plate tectonics on a global scale and analyses the physical processes responsible for the formation and destruction of the plates. It considers the principle active tectonic regimes of the Earth such as mid-ocean ridges, subduction zones and mountain ranges, and develops an understanding of the physical and chemical nature of the lithosphere. You will also consider the different types of rocks formed in these different regions, as well as their recycling and the accumulation of sediment over the planet, how sedimentary rocks relate to the tectonic processes, and how they are preserved in the stratigraphic record.
This course focuses on the relationship between surface processes and the development of landforms at a variety of scales in space and time. It examines endogenic processes originating within the Earth, exogenic processes occurring at the Earth/atmosphere/ocean interface and the way they interact to create landforms. For perspective, the course also explores the geomorphology of other planetary bodies including Mars, and a residential field excursion completes Year 2.
You will study both geology and physical geography courses and can choose option courses from a prescribed list within your specific interest field e.g. glaciology, remote sensing, hydrocarbons, etc.
Core courses develop deeper theoretical and practical knowledge of the Earth and include structural geology through to igneous and metamorphic petrology, as well as developing the students' core competencies in quantification of processes.
Fieldwork includes a residential excursion to Spain. As the content of the programme is updated to reflect the advancing subject matter, and student feedback, the location of field courses may change.
During the vacation following Year 3, you are required to begin work on an Honours project in geology and physical geography. The topic is devised in conjunction with an advisor and generally reflects your interests. This independent research project is progressed and written up during Year 4 and becomes an important component of your Honours assessment.
This flexible programme allows you to pursue your interests, and, in addition to compulsory courses, you have again a choice of option courses, all of which are aligned to the programme aims. The compulsory course Evolution of the Modern Earth provides a critical synthesis of evidence bearing on the Earth's evolution, from planetary formation to its present complex pattern of continents and oceans. In total, during Years 3 and 4, the workload is almost exactly 50:50 in geology and in physical geography and the balance of final assessment follows this pattern.
Fourth year fieldwork takes you to Cyprus (future locations may differ subject to course updates) for two weeks during the Easter vacation where many aspects of the geology and geomorphology come to life in the spectacular landscapes and exposures there.
Year 5 comprises independent and taught courses to enable you to develop a high level of analysis and critical understanding of the Earth system, retaining an emphasis on surface processes and the linked interactions around landscape formation and climate change.
You will complete high-level courses and a dissertation in a subject area of your choice. You will also take part in a field trip, which is currently to Iceland (future location(s) may change as teaching subject matter evolves). If you choose to progress to a masters programme there is ample opportunity in Year 5 to advance your research skills and gain a deeper understanding of your subject.
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
In your first year, many of your lectures will be taught in the Central Area close to the city centre. Practicals and other teaching take place within the School of GeoSciences, located at the University's King's Buildings campus. You can access the University's libraries and IT facilities, and the School's laboratories provide personal workspace with computing and microscope facilities during your honours years.
You will have opportunities to study abroad through the University's international exchange programme.
You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials, group work, practicals and fieldwork, self-directed learning and project work. In your honours years, you will devote more time to self-directed study and will receive individual supervision for final-year project work.
You will have access to the University's specialist research facilities and laboratories for analysing rocks, minerals and fluids and measuring the physical properties of rocks.
Assessment will be both formative and summative, with a combination of practical work, essays, oral and written examinations, independent project work, field reports and notebooks, depending on the course.
On MEarthPhys programmes you will also be assessed on computer programming exercises, and in the final year of all our programmes there are elements of assessed presentation and scientific writing skills. Most senior honours courses and projects will also involve modelling elements.
Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.
To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
The vast majority of our graduates move straight into degree-related employment or further study. Our graduates are highly sought after by energy (including renewables) and resource companies, environmental consultancies and the financial sector, and many also find employment in the areas of environmental planning and regulation, geoconservation, science communication and education, and engineering. We have a professional advisory board that provides support on employability skills.
The typical offer is likely to be:
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
For direct entry to second year the minimum requirements must be exceeded, including the following:
Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).
You must provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:
For SQA and GCSE students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
Key Information Sets (KIS) are part of a government initiative to enhance the information that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.
KIS are available for most undergraduate programmes and are intended to make it easier for you to find information about the programmes you are interested in studying. It is one of many sources of information available that will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.
You can also use this website to find more information on our programmes and the learning environment you will experience at the University of Edinburgh.
Please note that some programmes do not have data available and will not display a KIS.
You will incur costs on compulsory field trips. In 2016, these were around: Year 1 - £150, Year 3 - £280, Year 4 - £340 and Year 5 - £500. In 2016 there were also optional field trip costs of around £1,540.
Previous destinations include Lake District, Spain, Inchnadamph, Cyprus and Iceland with the option to add Jamaica.
Find more information about field trip costs on the GeoSciences website.
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.