Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Subject area: Earth Sciences

Why choose Earth Sciences at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We're ranked in the world's top 20 universities for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

  • You will join a community of the largest group of Earth scientists in Europe. This not only feeds into what we teach but will also provide you with a broad programme of study in your final year and a greater choice of topics for your independent research dissertation.

  • We have a large range of specialist facilities that will be relevant to your programme, including geophysics field equipment, airborne drone imaging, geochemistry laboratories and high-performance computing.

Study abroad

The most challenging part of my programme is probably field work. It is non-stop work but you learn so much and it's great to use the information from the classroom in real-life situations.

Kyle Laing BSc (Hons) Geology & Physical Geography graduate
Kyle Laing BSc (Hons) Geology & Physical Geography graduate

Introducing Earth Sciences

If you have an aptitude for science, a sense of adventure for the great outdoors, and a passion for learning about how our planet works, then a career in Earth Sciences may be for you.

Studying Earth Sciences at Edinburgh enables you to examine all aspects of our planet, from its formation and the evolution of life through to present-day surface and environmental processes, including the impact of global climate change.

Our programmes all have a strong practical element where your observational, analytical and quantitative skills are developed, including computer modelling and programming.

The Earth Sciences embrace many natural and physical science subjects, to understand the Earth and its development through time, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geography

Field trips

Field trips are at the heart of many of our Earth Science programmes. You will have many opportunities to get your hands dirty during local or international field trips throughout your studies. You could be exploring the traces of massive volcanic explosions one day, mapping tectonic faults the next, or swimming in coral reefs collecting water samples on another.

The locations and experiences of each trip will vary, enriching you with a broad understanding of how our planet works. Destinations may include iconic local landmarks, such as geologist James Hutton's unconformity at Siccar Point in East Berwickshire, or locations abroad such as Jamaica, Spain, Iceland or Cyprus.

Please note: Field trip locations may change for a variety of reasons, including due to Covid-19. Where necessary, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled.

*(Revised 13 November 2020 to included notice about field trip changes.)

Career opportunities

Studying Earth Sciences gives you a wide range of career opportunities. With the world facing numerous challenges including global climate change, extreme weather, depleting natural resources and a growing population, the demand for quantitative Earth scientists has never been greater.

By studying Earth Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, you will become part of an academic community in one of the leading geosciences departments in the UK, and one of the top-ranked universities in the world. Our research and industry networks give you access to a world-class experience with real-world relevance. You will learn from geologists and earth scientists who are the forefront and drivers of change and are undertaking world-leading research in a wide range of areas.

Year 2 entry

Suitably qualified students may opt to apply for direct entry to Year 2 in the majority of our Earth Sciences programmes. In this case, content flexibility is reduced, but the length of your study is the same as a comparable degree in the rest of the UK.