Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

MEarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: School of Geosciences
Programme accredited by: N/A
Final award: MEarthPhys
Programme title: Geophysics and Geology
UCAS code: N/A
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): N/A
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Prof. Michael Summerfield
Date of production/revision: 7 Feb 2014

External summary

The integrated Master’s degree in Geophysics and Geology combines key elements of both Geophysics and Geology, thereby providing graduates with a thorough grounding in the fundamental geophysical properties of the Earth (e.g., gravity, heat flow, magnetics, seismic wave propagation etc.), together with a good understanding of the geological processes which continuously form the Earth’s surface and subsurface.  This combination enables our graduates to accurately interpret geophysical features, anomalies and phenomena within their geological context.

Edinburgh has one of the largest university groupings of geophysicists in Europe, and it offers unrivalled courses, covering practical applications of physics and mathematics in the geosciences. Edinburgh graduates in geophysics have had little difficulty in entering challenging and rewarding careers in such areas as oil and mineral prospecting, hydrology, industrial management and administration. The numerical and analytical skills developed while studying physics and mathematics as applied to the geosciences, including the ability to interpret complex systems, are often prized by potential employers.

Educational aims of programme

These are the same as for the B.Sc degree in geophysics and geology: that the student should:

  • Acquire knowledge of the Earth and of the physical processes which govern it

  • Learn to collect scientific information in the field

  • Learn to perform critical analysis of scientific information.

  • Acquire the ability to postulate and test a scientific hypothesis.

  • Develop their mathematical and problem-solving skills

  • Learn about the scientific use of computers and develop their general IT skills.

  • Improve their presentation and communication skills.

with the additional aim of providing detailed preparation for a research career, experience of what a research career is like and further opportunities for advanced study in areas of geophysics and Earth science chosen by the student.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

Graduates from the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology will possess and demonstrate

  • knowledge of the structure of the solid Earth and of the processes which shape its surface

  • Knowledge of the types of rock which make up the Earth's crust

  • An understanding of the various physical techniques used to probe the Earth's structure

  • Knowledge of the processes by which oil forms, migrates and is trapped within rock

  • Knowledge of the Earth's magnetic field and understanding of the processes which form it

  • Understanding of the causes of earthquakes and of how seismic waves propagate through the Earth

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

By engaging with and completing the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology, graduates will be able to:

  • Tackle a variety of problems in Earth sciences by breaking down problems in unfamiliar situations into manageable tasks.

  • Explore and monitor the shallow earth and upper crust (from centimetres to kilometres depth) using a range of Geophysical exploration equipment and methods, for purposes of resource exploration and management.

  • Explore the deep earth (from crust to core) using seismic waves from earthquakes, electromagnetic waves, gravity or Earth magnetism.

  • Collect experimental data and analyse it in a quantitative and critical manner

  • Run computational models and analyse their output in a quantitative and critical manner

  • Conduct literature reviews and critically evaluate research literature;

  • Write complex computer programs in both compiled and interpreted languages in order to analyse scientific data

  • Plan and manage an extended research project

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

By engaging with and completing the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology, graduates will be able to:

  • work effectively both individually and as a member of a small group;

  • work independently and with good skills of self-management;

  • display creativity, flexibility and adaptability.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

By engaging with and completing the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology, graduates will be able to:

  • Write scientific reports in a clear and well-presented manner

  • Give a verbal presentation of scientific results in the style expected at conferences in physics and the Earth sciences

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

By engaging with and completing the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology, graduates will be able to:

  • collaborate efficiently and productively with others in the process of learning and presenting conclusions – this includes those with a range of backgrounds and knowledge, such as fellow-students, tutors and supervisors;

  • Organise their own learning, manage workload and work to a timetable. Participate effectively in group work and projects; and

  • effectively plan, and possess the confidence to undertake and to present scholarly work that demonstrates an understanding of the aims, methods and theoretical considerations relevant to Geophysics

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

By engaging with and completing the M.EarthPhys in Geophysics and Geology, graduates will be able to:

  • Apply mathematical and numerical techniques to the study of the Earth

  • Make confident use of computers running both Windows and Linux, both for generic purposes such as report writing and for subject-specific purposes such as data-analysis and numerical modelling.

  • Write programs in a data-analysis language (e.g. MATLAB®) to create numerical models and analyse data

  • Operate a variety of technical equipment for the measurement of geophysical quantities.

  • Interpret geophysical data in a geological context.

Programme structure and features

Pre-honours, Junior honours and senior honours years are identical to B.Sc in Geophysics and Geology degree programme. The fifth and final year is laid out as follows:

Normal year taken

Course

Schedules

Level

Credit total

5

Frontiers in Earth Science GESC11003

N

11

10

5

Scientific Computing Skills (NEW)

N

11

20

5

Project design and literature analysis GESC11001

N

11

20

5

Geoscience research project GESC11002

N

11

40

5

Optional courses

N

11 (or 10)

30

 

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching in in years 1-4 is as for B.Sc degree in geophysics. Specific activities will vary with course options taken, but may include

In years 1 and 2

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Practical classes

  • Single-day fieldwork

In year 3 

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Practical and computer programming classes

  • Geology Field course

In year 4 

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Practical and computer programming classes

  • International Geophysics Field course

  • Extended research projects

  • Seminars and presentations

In year 5 

  • Extended research project (50% of work for year)

  • Advanced computer programming training to support research project

  • Optional courses in various areas of Earth science

Assessment methods and strategies

In years 1 and 2

Written examinations

Assessed laboratory work

Other coursework

In year 3

Written examinations

Assessed laboratory reports

Computer programming exercises

Other coursework

In year 4

Written examinations

Research project reports

Summary reports from fieldwork

Presentation skills

In year 5

Two reports on extended research project

Computer programming exercises

Presentation and scientific writing skills

Assessment in years 1-4 as for B.S degree in geophysics

Assessment in the IM year is centred around the extended research project

Career opportunities

Geophysics graduates often go on to careers as geophysicists, in the oil, mining or nuclear industries. They may also transfer their physical, mathematical, numerical and algorithmic skills to a huge range of non-Earth-Science related positions, for example in engineering, finance, business, consultancy, and a large variety of governmental and civil service positions. Many graduates go on to study for higher degrees.

Careers for M.EarthPhys graduates will be similar to those for the established B.Sc. However the M.EarthPhys will additionally provide a better route into research careers, giving the student more relevant experience. There are a number of employers in the oil and geophysical surveying industries nowadays who prefer students with a master's degree; the  M.EarthPhys will give our students a direct route to those employers without the need to find a position and funding on a stand-alone M.Sc degree at another university.

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