Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology

UCAS code: L3R7

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology

If you are curious about how our planet works and want to help solve some of our biggest global challenges, geophysics may be for you.

What is geophysics?

Geophysics is about understanding the complex interactions between the Earth's systems using physics. We explore everything from the Earth's core to the atmosphere.

For example

  • Studying what causes natural disasters, like earthquakes and volcanoes.
  • By using satellites and drones, we can collect data on how the Earth behaves using a process called remote sensing.
  • Understanding the physics of environmental change to find ways to reduce the harmful impact of human activity.
  • We can also predict human impacts on the rapidly changing climate by understanding how the atmosphere and oceans interact.

It is the interdisciplinarity nature of geophysics that defines much of what we do. It is also why geophysics plays an important role in creating a more sustainable future for everyone.

What will I learn?

Our degree offers you the best of both subjects.

Many people confuse geology and geophysics, as both disciplines study the Earth and how it works. For example, they both explore the mechanisms behind plate tectonics.


  • Geologists focus on the materialistic surface, namely rocks and minerals, of the Earth and its evolution.
  • Geophysicists are mainly concerned about the mechanical and thermal structure of the Earth and the force balance in the Earth’s physical processes, including its internal composition and atmosphere.

As a student in geophysics and geology, you will learn about:

  • the microscopic properties of minerals
  • the structure and composition of the Earth
  • how large-scale forces such as gravity, seismology and magnetism shape the Earth
  • our Earth's past to forecast and safeguard its future
  • the impact of global climate change on our world

By studying this degree, you will learn from our wide range of experienced academics across a range of Earth science disciplines. Our research-led, industry-informed teaching makes your degree relevant to the world and helps make you highly employable

We have a hands on approach to learning, so you can develop valuable practical skills. Many of your activities are similar to what professionals do in the real world.

An extraordinary reputation

We are one of the largest and most successful groupings of geographers, Earth and environmental scientists in the UK, many of whom are world experts in their field.

  • We have pioneered research proving human-caused greenhouse gases are warming our planet, which helped underpin the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • We are working with major space agencies to monitor the environment using satellite data.
  • We are 22nd in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2024.
  • We are ranked in the world's top 50 universities for natural sciences subjects, and 4th in the UK. Across Earth and marine sciences, environmental sciences, geology, geography and geophysics, we are ranked top 10 in the UK (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024).

Our staff will include the latest research in your teaching, and share our discoveries with you.

Video: Earth sciences and environment

Life-changing field trips

Field trips are at the heart of this programme.

We know that getting out in the world is essential for understanding how it works.

We will take you beyond the classroom so that you can apply your learning to real-life situations.

Our field courses and day excursions are challenging and fun. Often, they will provide some of your most memorable moments.

For example, you could be:

  • mapping the subsurface of meteorite impacts and volcanic craters
  • exploring the geology of rocks found under the North Sea and comparing with offshore geophysical data
  • travelling abroad and working with international peers to conduct gravity and seismic surveys

What do you do on a field trip?

Our hands-on approach to learning helps build your confidence and practical experience. It also gives you field skills valued by employers.

Our network of leading experts in environmental geoscience will take part in these excursions.

Your training leads to the opportunity to conduct your independent research project. An experienced academic will supervise and support you through your work.

Field experiences help create a sense of community in your cohort. You will take part in a dynamic learning experience through peer learning where knowledge, ideas, and discoveries thrive.

Working on multidisciplinary problems with your peers prepares you for life after university. Teamwork and collaborative solutions are important for solving the environmental challenges we face.

Our trips also help you to experience working with different types of field equipment, which will help you develop practical skills. We have a range of tools and high-tech equipment to take field measurements such as:

  • Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles (UAV) - also called 'drones'
  • digital mapping tools
  • geophysical instruments to acquire electrical resistivity and magnetic data
  • geophysical instruments to conduct seismic surveys

The locations and experiences of each trip will vary. We want you to gain a broad understanding of how the world works. Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint while giving you the best training opportunities.

Our compulsory field trips or field courses are free, including travel and accommodation. To ensure our degrees are accessible and inclusive, we offer alternative learning experiences where necessary.

Edinburgh is your ideal base

Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 16th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2024. Our vibrant capital is an irresistible blend of history and modern city life.

Edinburgh is not only a fantastic city to live in; it is also the perfect location to study geography and the Earth sciences. Did you know that Edinburgh is the 'birthplace' of modern geology and Earth sciences?

An ancient volcano known as 'Arthur's Seat' forms part of a magnificent park in the middle of our city. Superb geological locations are right on our doorstep, providing you with world-class outdoor training grounds. Many of these sites are of scientific importance. For example, the world-famous "Hutton's Unconformity" at Siccar Point is just a short trip away.

We will help you make the most of our local surroundings throughout your studies.

Explore rugged coastlines, misty mountains, forest glens and sparkling freshwater lochs.

What is it really like to study with us?

No one knows what it is like to study here better than the students themselves.

Our students are sharing their experiences - from studying to living in Edinburgh and everything in between.

Get social with us:

The exciting nature of geophysics and geology means you will have a diverse learning experience during your years with us.

The way you learn will depend on the courses you take, and the topics explored.

Your programme begins with a broad grounding of topics across Earth sciences and the environment.

You will:

  • build on this foundation while exploring new and varied topics in the following years
  • develop independence and confidence as you progress through your studies

You can find details for compulsory and option courses through the 'Programme Structure' link below.


This degree follows the same structure as the 4-year BSc Geophysics and Geology degree until the end of Year 4. You will then have an extra year of study.

This extra year allows you to improve your knowledge and skills to become a specialist. You will complete an additional independent research project in Year 5.

Study pathways

We have three degree streams that specialise in geophysics:

You do not need to apply to more than one geophysics degree. You can switch between the different geophysics degrees in your first year of study as you discover the subjects you prefer.

Our geophysics degrees:

  • have the same entry requirements
  • share the same first year
  • include the possibility to switch degrees until the end of Year 1

From Year 2, our geophysics degrees change to become more specialised for their particular degree streams.

In addition:

  • Many of the courses in your first and second years are also shared with our Earth science and environment degrees.

  • Depending on the courses you take, it may be possible to switch between these degrees as you discover the subjects you prefer.

You will then specialise in the subject of your choice in later years.

Explore all Earth and environmental sciences degrees

Please note that some later courses may not be available if you have not taken the necessary pre-requisite courses. You should discuss your interests with your Cohort Lead to ensure that these options are still available to you.

Switching degrees

Our Earth science and environment degrees provide opportunities to switch between degrees in your early years.

To switch between the different geophysics degrees, you must decide by the end of Year 1.

Option courses

One of the best things about a Scottish undergraduate degree is the amount of electives (called 'option courses') you can study. For this degree programme, you have the opportunity to take option courses outside your degree in Year 2.

You can choose courses related to your degree. Or you can try something completely different and new to you.

Changes to teaching and learning

We are committed to offering high-quality education to all our students. However, there may be changes to course options and delivery. All decisions are made to make sure we can provide the highest standards for your educational experience.

We try to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from but these can be changed or cancelled at short notice. Course capacity and timetabling constraints can limit places on optional courses. Therefore, we cannot guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.

Data innovation

A key feature of our programme is a strong focus on developing your skills around the generation and analysis of scientific data, through a wide range of computational techniques.

For example:

  • advanced computing and data skills
  • the ability to think in 3D and 4D
  • model building from limited datasets
  • the capability to integrate spatial and temporal information
  • understanding processes on a range of scales
  • extrapolating hypotheses based on small data sets
  • extracting key information from complex sets of observations
  • assessing large data sets and pattern recognition in complex data
  • dealing with complex systems and uncertainties

Changes to field trips

Field course locations may change for various reasons, including the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, and to make sure we can maintain the highest standards for your educational experience.

Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements that will make sure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree.

We will announce any changes as soon as possible.

Accessibility on field trips

We are committed to making our degree as accessible and inclusive as possible. If you cannot attend all trips or only some of them, we will provide alternatives with similar learning outcomes where necessary.

Year 1

All compulsory courses will be the same across our geophysics degrees.

We will introduce you to the foundations of:

  • geology
  • geophysics
  • mathematics
  • physics

We will help you develop an idea of what you might want to do as a geophysics graduate.

Year 2

You will advance your knowledge in:

  • geology
  • geophysics
  • mathematics
  • physics

You can also choose option courses from across the University. You can choose courses related to your degree, or you can try something completely different and new to you.

Year 3

Your coursework will become more focused on specialised aspects of your degree.

You will spend more time developing detailed skills.

We will cover:

  • maths and computing
  • measurements and modelling
  • structural geology
  • geology field skills
  • general research skills

Year 4

You will develop expert knowledge in a field of your choice.

You can choose one of the following:

  • one major project
  • two smaller projects
  • an independent mapping project

Your projects will involve independent research in your chosen specialist field. They can be inspired by your area of interest and explored through our world-class facilities and top scientists.

We will support you with individual supervision from an academic with experience in your chosen subject area.


Through fieldwork, you will apply the skills you have learned during your studies. We will explore a specific site, which we often share with students from France and Germany. This gives you the opportunity to meet fellow peers and apply geophysics in the real world.

Our selected location will provide you with different geophysical and geological structures. Past trips have taken place across various sites in Europe.

You will use a range of geophysical techniques and equipment to study:

  • gravity
  • magnetics
  • electromagnetism
  • seismology

You will also continue to study courses that further your knowledge in geophysics and geology.

Year 5

The main focus will be on designing and delivering a major independent research project on a topic of your choice. We will support you with individual supervision from an academic with experience in your chosen subject area.

This provides you with the opportunity to advance your skills and knowledge through carrying out novel scientific research. You will further develop your understanding of how research is done by producing detailed work of original and high quality.

Many past students have had their work published in peer-reviewed scientific literature or incorporated into broader publications.

You will also complete research design and computing courses that help make sure your project is designed well and achievable.

Programme structure

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.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

You will have access to the facilities across all University sites.

For example:

  • libraries
  • study spaces
  • computing facilities
  • social spaces
  • leisure facilities

Depending on the option courses you choose, you may also study at various campus locations in Edinburgh.

King's Buildings campus

We host classes mostly in the School of GeoSciences, located at the University's King's Buildings campus. The King's Buildings (KB) is the main campus of the College of Science and Engineering.

The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh. It is easily accessible by bus. You can also cycle (10 minutes) or walk (25 minutes) from the central area.

The School of GeoSciences houses a wide range of cutting-edge facilities and services. We also host several collaborative centres of research excellence.

You will attend lectures, tutorials and practicals in our state-of-the-art theatres and classrooms.

We have a hands-on approach to learning, so you will also have access to our:

  • specialist research facilities
  • laboratories
  • supercomputers
  • field equipment

You will:

  • have access to a range of high-tech facilities, letting you analyse various types of samples
  • collect some of these samples during field excursions and for your independent research project
  • conduct field measurements using various techniques used in Earth and environmental sciences
  • have access to digital field equipment and UAV unoccupied aerial vehicles (drones) to conduct measurements using various techniques

You will also be given a dedicated undergraduate student learning space during your honours years. You can use this space for your independent work, to study with others and socialise with your peers.

Computing facilities

We also have advanced computing facilities, where you will be able to:

  • perform advanced geographic information systems (GIS) analysis
  • run cutting-edge meteorological and geophysical computer models
  • make the most out of digital field mapping tools

Some science and technology companies are based on the campus. Many of these companies are based on College research. There are also start-ups located here to build connections with the College.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of GeoSciences and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Discover our city's landmarks, our campuses, accommodation and get video tours.

Take a virtual tour of the School of GeoSciences


There are no compulsory placements or internships as part of this degree, but you will have many opportunities to gain professional experience.

For example, we can help you with self-arranged internships or summer work placements.

Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement.

If you are interested in a one-year placement, you can take an extra year of study. This is through our integrated masters: the MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement.

This five-year degree follows the structure of our BSc Geophysics and Geology degree. However, it has a one-year placement between academic Years 3 and 4. This extra year gives you valuable professional experience with an external organisation.

You will have until the end of your second year of the BSc to decide if you want to change to the MEarthPhys Professional Placement degree.

MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement

Study abroad

There are exciting opportunities to study abroad as part of the University's exchange programmes.

Many of our students spend their third year abroad in Europe or other parts of the world. A year abroad can give you valuable academic and life skills.

In addition to University-wide exchanges, the School of GeoSciences has many subject-specific exchanges. We have partner universities in:

  • Europe
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

Visit: what are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Teaching can be through a mix of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • workshops
  • field trips and field courses
  • project work

You will also design and carry out your project dissertation in your final year.

Technical training

This degree has a hands-on approach to develop you with a range of practical skills.

We will balance:

  • advanced data science
  • programming, computing simulations and modelling
  • use of specialist computer programmes
  • laboratory experience in a range of analytical techniques
  • observational and analytical skills in different field settings
  • geographical information systems (GIS)

You will have access to our wide range of specialist research facilities, laboratories and field equipment.

We also have cutting-edge computational facilities. You can use them to visualise and explore the scientific data created in your advanced projects.

How will you support me?

We want to help you make the most of your studies with us.

You will have access to a range of resources and activities to support you during your studies. You will be assigned a Student Adviser for the duration of your degree, who will be your main contact if you have any questions related to academic or pastoral support.

The Student Adviser works closely with academics in your degree and the wider University support services. They can also help you with a wide range of administrative and practical issues, and can direct you to relevant resources or people.

Find out more about student support

You will also be assigned a Cohort Lead who will organise activities to help you get to know the other students on your degree.

They will also advise and support you on a range of topics including:

  • course choices
  • how to develop and improve your academic skills
  • how to effectively use feedback
  • advice on your future career opportunities

For your honours dissertation project and advanced project, you will also receive individual supervision and guidance from an academic with experience in your chosen subject area.

How will I be assessed?

We will assess you in various ways, depending on the courses you choose and the nature of the topics explored.

Assessment can be through a mix of:

  • written or practical exams, including multiple-choice exercises
  • laboratory reports and field project reports
  • practical evaluation in the field or field notebooks
  • coursework, such as essays
  • posters
  • individual or group projects and presentations

You may also be evaluated in computer programming exercises. Some senior honours courses and projects in Earth sciences and environment involve computational modelling elements.

We will also assess your:

  • presentation and scientific writing skills for your independent research project in Year 4
  • advanced research project in Year 5. Your format may be a professional report or scientific paper, depending on your project.

By studying with us, a range of career opportunities are open to you. Our students have taken up a range of jobs after graduation.

You could work in areas such as:

  • environmental geophysics
  • hydrogeology
  • industrial management and administration
  • renewable energy
  • environmental protection
  • natural hazards

Additionally, the skills you develop with us are transferable to other sectors, including:

  • engineering
  • finance
  • business
  • consultancy
  • government or civil service positions

Where do our graduates find employment?

Our graduates have gained employment in roles such as:

  • geophysicist
  • meteorologist
  • waste resource manager
  • hydrogeologist
  • resource discovery
  • environmental consultant
  • sustainability consultant
  • minerals surveyor
  • energy resources manager

A sustainable future

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action to address the significant global challenges of our generation.

There are 17 overarching goals with a timeline set to 2030. Nearly all countries in the world have committed to this plan, with societies rapidly adjusting to meet these goals.

They address challenges such as:

  • climate change
  • environment
  • water
  • food inequality
  • protecting our planet
  • sustainable growth and energy supplies

Earth sciences and geophysics are at the heart of these efforts.

With this degree, you can work in fields that directly contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

You’ll join one of the world's leading universities, playing a vital role in tackling the numerous complex climate challenges. Our internationally renowned research aims to mitigate climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy.

Further study

Our programmes also prepare you for entry into relevant postgraduate degree programmes. A significant proportion of our students progress to further postgraduate study and research.

Careers Service

We support you in recognising the many possibilities ahead.

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience. We also support you after graduation.

We provide:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying here is about laying the foundations for your future success.

Visit our Careers Service

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB in one set of exams.
  • IB: 34 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6 and Physics at 5. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology

Additional costs

The School of GeoSciences does not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses.

Costs of travel, accommodation and general upkeep on compulsory field trips are covered by the programme, thanks to the continued support of our generous alumni community.

However you are responsible for any incidental/personal expenses. This may include suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Excursions as part of optional courses have extra fees, which vary depending on the nature of the field trip.

Dissertation costs

There may be some costs associated with your dissertation research project, including field costs. You can design your dissertation project to reduce costs.

The School of GeoSciences also provides a £200 allowance for using facilities to support your dissertation project in Year 4, and again for your advanced research project in Year 5.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering