Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement

UCAS code: L5T6

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering


Introducing MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement

Geophysics and Geology are concerned with the study of the Earth. Geophysics is the study of the Earth's internal structure and dynamics through the use of physics and mathematics. You will learn the fundamental physical principles and mathematical techniques underpinning the subject, and their application to fields as diverse as oil and gas exploration, environmental monitoring and protection, and mitigation of natural hazards. You will gain an understanding of the inner workings of our planet.

Geology is the study of the evolution of the Earth over the last 4,500 million years and is founded on careful observation of the natural world, coupled with the application of physical, chemical and biological principles. The unifying theory of plate tectonics has transformed our understanding of the global processes behind the Earth's evolution, including the creation and destruction of the oceans, the origin of volcanoes and of ore deposits, the development of hydrocarbon basins and the building of mountains.

Our Geophysics programmes are unique in Scotland. The University has one of the largest groupings of geophysicists in Europe, offering unrivalled courses that cover practical applications of physics and mathematics in the geosciences.

Year 1

You will study a common first year introducing you to the foundations of physics, geophysics, mathematics and earth dynamics on which the rest of your programme will be based.

Year 2

You will take more advanced maths and physics courses, three further geology courses (including a residential trip to develop your field geology skills, currently run in the Lake District) and a specialist geophysics course.

In addition, you will choose an option course from a wide selection in the Schools of Physics & Astronomy, GeoSciences or elsewhere.

Year 3

Your specialist geology and geophysics courses will continue, with an emphasis on geology. You will take part in field trips in both Scotland and 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.

You will also have the choice of two option courses in earth sciences.

Year 4

You will spend your placement year working on a relevant Geoscience project with an approved research company in the UK or overseas.

Year 5

You will continue your specialised studies with a focus on seismology and the Earth's planetary evolution, and will take part in a geophysics field course along with students from universities in France and Germany.

You will complete independent geophysics project work for your honours dissertation. Option courses will be available in Earth Sciences.

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 (2018/19)

Our facilities

In Year 1, 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.

Field trips

Due to the continued support of our generous Alumni community, all travel and accommodation costs associated with compulsory field trips will be waived from 2019. Earth Science, Ecological & Environmental Sciences and Geography degrees all involve a significant element of field study and we are pleased to be able to support our students as they learn practical and highly prized skills.

Find more information about field trips on the GeoSciences website.

Field trips


You will undertake a professional placement at an approved company in the UK or overseas in Year 4 of your programme (must be on track for at least a 2:1).

The placement will be at least 8 months long and will incorporate a research project (taking up at least 50% of your time).

The host companies are requested to contribute towards living costs.

How will I learn?

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.

How will I be assessed?

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.

Programme details

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.

Programme details (2018/19)

Our graduates have successfully entered challenging and rewarding careers in areas such as oil or mineral prospecting, numerical weather forecasting and industrial management and administration.

You will be able to consider careers as a geophysicist or geologist in the oil, mining or nuclear industries or apply your skills to other disciplines such as engineering, finance, business, consultancy or a variety of governmental or civil service positions.

The numerical and analytical skills you will gain, including the ability to interpret complex systems, are prized by potential employers.

Typical offer range

The typical offer is likely to be:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - ABBB.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 555 at HL - 32 points with 555 at HL.

Access threshold

The access threshold for a contextual offer is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 555 at HL.

Find out more about access thresholds and contextual offers

Detailed requirements for all applicants

To be considered for an offer of a place all applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or ABBBB/AABB from S4-S6, with a minimum of BBB achieved in one year of S4-S6, to include Mathematics at Grade A and Physics.
  • A Levels: ABB required in one sitting, to include Mathematics at Grade A and Physics.
  • IB: 32 points overall and award of IB Diploma with 555 at HL to include Mathematics and Physics.

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

You must provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT 92 or above with 20 in each section
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): Total 61 with at least 51 in each "Communicative Skills" section
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

About English language requirements


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 Grade C
  • SQA Standard Grade 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 Grade A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 Grade C
  • GCSE Grade C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level Grade 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

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 Unistats data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MEarthPhys Geophysics and Geology with Professional Placement

Additional costs

Revised 31 January 2019 to remove information about field trip costs; all travel and accommodation costs associated with compulsory field trips will now be waived for students entering in 2019.


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