Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Subject area: Earth Sciences and Environment

Why choose Earth Sciences and Environment at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We are ranked top 25 in the world for Earth and Marine Sciences and top 50 in the world for Environmental Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024.

    We are also in the world's top 50 and the UK's top 10 universities for natural sciences, environmental sciences, geology, geophysics, Earth and marine sciences, (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023).

  • A world of career opportunities is open to you.

    Our extensive network makes sure your degree has real-world relevance and that you are valued by employers. You will also have many networking, project, and work opportunities with us.

  • Learn from one of the UK's largest and most successful groupings of Earth and environmental scientists. Many are world experts in their field. We offer a wide choice of topics and can help tailor your degree to meet your specific needs.

    Our degrees also give you valuable practical skills. You will have access to our:

    • cutting-edge facilities
    • specialist laboratories
    • supercomputers
    • high-tech field equipment
  • Field trips are at the heart of our degrees.

    Our hands-on approach to learning takes you beyond the classroom to develop real-world experience and practical skills valued by employers.

    While your field experiences will challenge you at times, they are rewarding, fun and also free.

  • Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 16th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2024.

    Our vibrant capital is a blend of history and modern city life. A fantastic place to live, it is also the perfect location to study Earth and environmental sciences. Ancient volcanoes, rugged coastlines, misty mountains and forest glens are right on your doorstep.

Study abroad

I could not have chosen a better place for Earth science than Edinburgh. I have been able to study topics that most interest me and have been supported every step of the way. There is a great mix of fieldwork, lab and class activities delivered by staff who are passionate about their subject. We also have an extinct volcano in the middle of the city, so what's not to love!

Vojtech Hybl BSc (Hons) Geology and Physical Geography
Vojtech Hybl BSc (Hons) Geology and Physical Geography

Introducing Earth Sciences and Environment

Every day, Earth scientists make significant contributions to the planet and our everyday lives.

They are helping us:

  • tackle the climate crisis
  • adapt to Earth and environmental changes
  • live more safely and sustainably on our dynamic Earth

If you are interested in learning more about these challenges and helping to solve them, our degrees may be for you.

Play a vital role in the climate crisis

The evidence is undeniable, human activity is responsible for warming the atmosphere, oceans and land in unprecedented ways.

All regions of the world are already experiencing the impacts, including:

  • rapid changes in climate
  • widespread loss of glaciers and sea ice
  • rising global sea-levels
  • increasing heatwaves, floods and droughts
  • oxygen levels dropping in ocean regions and acidification increasing
  • rising frequency and severity of extreme weather events

Sustainable development goals

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

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

With our degrees, you can work in fields that contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

By studying with us, you will join one of the largest and most successful groups of researchers delivering important work on:

  • the science of climate change
  • its impacts and risks
  • options for adaption and mitigation
  • the transition to a low-carbon economy

An extraordinary reputation

Many of our researchers are pioneers in their fields, helping shape some of the most important international policy decisions in history. For example, our seminal work helped prove that human-caused greenhouse gasses are warming our planet, which supported the Paris Agreement. Our method has become part of the foundation of climate science.

We also host national and international knowledge exchange centres, including:

Our degrees

The exciting nature of Earth sciences means you will have a diverse learning experience and a vast range of career opportunities available to you.

Our Earth sciences and environment degrees share most compulsory courses in Years 1 and 2.

This gives you:

  • a solid foundation in Earth sciences and environmental topics
  • flexibility to switch between degrees as you discover the subjects you prefer

Our degrees then become more specialised for their particular fields.

This means you have time to decide which degree is right for you. You do not need to choose more than one Earth sciences degree when submitting your application.

Life-changing field trips

Field trips are at the heart of our degrees.

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

Our field courses and day excursions will challenge you at times but are good fun. Often they will provide some of your most memorable moments from your degree.

You could be:

  • surrounded by Scotland's glorious mountains, gathering evidence to unravel its unique geological history
  • visiting worksites to meet Earth science professionals and find out what they do
  • hunting for fossils and chatting with your professor about their work on the latest Jurassic World film
  • on a remote and windswept island using instruments to study weather systems
  • swimming among tropical coral reefs, collecting samples to measure environmental pollution
  • using geophysical instruments to conduct gravity and seismic surveys, or exploring the landscape using airborne drones
  • exploring the impact of climate, tectonics and sea-level change on the landscape

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

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

Edinburgh is your ideal base

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 during your studies.

It is no surprise we are regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the world.

Take a virtual tour of Edinburgh and the University

What is it really like to study with us?

No one knows what it's 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.

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