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Geology

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Master of Earth Science

Master of Earth Science, MESci, is an integrated master’s degree which combines undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single course.

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Course overview

Discover planet Earth: from natural hazards to natural resources, from the history of life to the history of the planet itself. You don’t need to have studied geology before and this programme can open the door to a career as a professional geologist in industries such as petroleum, mineral resources, engineering geology and environmental assessment. You will gain thorough and highly practical training in modern geology, with a strong emphasis on fieldwork.

Introduction

The Geology MESci (Hons) shares the first three years with Geology BSc (Hons), with the final year providing more advanced training in all aspects of geology.

In years one and two, we provide core training in all key areas of geology. You will undertake an independent field-based project and complete a dissertation in year three. Modules specific to the four-year programme include volcanic processes, mineral deposits, and research methods. Year three and four field classes visit Northern Spain and Tenerife.

In year four, you will work within one of our research groups and complete a major geological research project. This will involve development of research and communication skills through a project proposal, literature review, journal-style manuscript and conference-style talk. Results often get published in international journals.

There is scope for an industrial placement with organisations such as Shell, BP, Exxon-Mobil, RioTinto, Anglo-American, the Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey.

Many of our students successfully complete internships in industry between years three and four.

You will choose from a wide range of applied and more academic modules to create your own pathway. Again, there is high level of field-based training designed specifically to give you skills in data analysis, synthesis, problem solving, research and reporting your results.

This programme also has a year abroad option, an incredible opportunity to spend an academic year at one of our partner universities.  On the 4-year integrated masters programme, you can go abroad either between Year 2 and 3 (apply in Year 2) OR Year 3 and 4 (apply in Year 3).

A number of the School’s degree programmes involve laboratory and field work. Fieldwork is carried out in various locations, ranging from inner city to coastal and mountainous environments. We consider applications from prospective disabled students on the same basis as all other students, and reasonable adjustments will be considered to address barriers to access.

What you'll learn

  • Core training in all key areas of geology
  • Volcanic processes, mineral deposits, and research methods
  • Work with one of our research groups and complete a major geological research project
  • Develop data analysis, synthesis, problem solving, research and communication skills

Accreditation

This degree is accredited by the Geological Society of London, satisfying the requirements of Fellowship and Chartered Geologist status.

Accreditations in detail

Teaching Excellence Framework 2023

We’re proud to announce we’ve been awarded a Gold rating for educational excellence.

Accreditations

This degree is accredited by the Geological Society of London, satisfying the requirements of Fellowship and Chartered Geologist status.

Course content

Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Year one

Year one aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to core disciplines in geoscience assuming no prior knowledge of the subject. A strong feature of year one is the development of transferable skills (eg Geographical Information Systems (GIS), IT, essay writing, oral communication), integrated within a tutorial system. Tutorials are run by academic staff.

Fieldwork involves:

  • 1 day in North England (October)
  • 8 days in Pembrokeshire (Easter)

ENVS117 is a compulsory module for those without A level Maths or Physics at grade C or above. ENVS153 is a compulsory module for those without A level Chemistry at grade C or above. You should discuss this with your programme director at the start of the academic session.

Compulsory modules

Earth Structure and Plate Tectonics (ENVS112)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module provides an introduction to the Earth and aims to teach students about the structure and composition of the Earth, the Earth’s gravitational and magnetic fields, and dynamics within the deep Earth; the physics of Earth material and the geological time scale; and plate tectonics. The course is delivered through a combination of lectures and practicals. Students are assessed through a combination of coursework and a final exam.

Introduction to Field Geology (ENVS109)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This field module provides a basic training in field techniques and gives students practical experience working with a wide range of rock types and tectonic structures to solve geological problems. Students gain experience in recording field data and use their own data to interpret geological processes and environments. The module is assessed by means of an individual fieldwork portfolio and a group synthesis poster completed after the field class.

Sedimentary Rocks and Fossils (ENVS118)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module provides a basic introduction to sedimentology and palaeontology. Students learn about the origin of sediment, sedimentary processes and structures and the ways in which sediments are converted into solid rock. The course outlines the importance of sedimentary rocks for hydrocarbons, water and as construction materials. Students learn how to describe and interpret sedimentary deposits. The palaeontology component introduces students to the major fossil groups and to the ways in which organisms can be preserved as fossils. It covers the importance of fossils for the study of evolution, environmental change and Earth history. Students learn how to describe fossils and how observations contribute to a broader understanding. Students will be assessed by means of two practical tests and a theory examination.

Introduction to Structural Geology and Geological Maps (ENVS156)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module introduces key subjects within Earth Sciences: Structural Geology and Geological Mapping. In this module you will be introduced to geological structures from the micro to the mountain scale, and receive training in the geometrical techniques used to document and analyse them. You will also learn the basic principles of stress and strain which underpin a number of advanced Earth Science subjects and skills used in industry and research. Finally, the module will provide training in how to read and understand geological maps, train your 3D visualisation skills by learning how to create geological cross-sections from maps, and how to stereographically plot 3D geological data. A combination of virtual lectures, tutorials, and directed reading will help you navigate this course. You will be assessed on the development of your practical skills through an open book practical exam and an individual research paper on a topic in structural geology.

Study Skills and GIS (Earth Science) (ENVS101)

Credits: 15 / Semester: whole session

This module introduces students to the key skills necessary to succeed on a University Earth Science course. It does this via a series of lectures, workshops and tutorials, together with a geology fieldwork day and attendance at departmental seminars and talks. The lectures, towards the start of the first semester, cover academic integrity, exam skills, employability and 2D/3D visualisation. Tailored workshops cover Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Word, Excel and programming skills. Small-group (typically 4 to 8 students) tutorials are run by academic staff and cover essay writing (including assessment), careers and employability. Academic tutors undertake personal development planning (careers and module selection advice) with each tutee.

Earth Materials (ENVS185)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module will introduce and develop understanding of rock-forming minerals and critical raw materials in terms of their environments of formation, occurrence, and abundance. The module will focus on exploring the uses and societal significance of a range of Earth materials, especially those critical to sustainable and renewable energy resources and various societal infrastructure. The key practical skills of mineral description, identification and interpretation will be developed and applied throughout the module to equip students with appropriate skills for many later geoscience modules and for future employment.

Optional modules

Climate, Atmosphere and Oceans (ENVS111)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Climate, Atmosphere and Oceans provides an understanding of how the climate system operates. The module draws on basic scientific principles to understand how climate has evolved over the history of the planet and how the climate system is operating now. Attention is particularly paid to the structure and circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, and how they both interact. The course emphasises acquiring mechanistic insight and drawing upon order of magnitude calculations. By the end of the module students will understand how the oceans and atmosphere combine to shape Earth’s climate. Students gain quantitative skills by completing a series of coursework exercises and a final exam. Students address the Net Zero carbon goal via group work involving digital storytelling.​

Environmental Chemistry (ENVS153)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module will give students an understanding of the fundamental properties of elements and matter, either solid, liquid or gas, in the context of the environmental sciences. It will introduce the fundamentals of atomic structure, elements and molecules from simple inorganic to large organic ones and the bonding forces that hold them together. It will look at the basics of chemical reactions such as the processes of oxidation and reduction, the solubility of solids and gases in water and acid-base properties. Students will learn how to make quantitative predictions, for instance on the amount of products that will be produced based on balanced chemical reactions, and will see how basic chemistry can be used to explain many environmental properties. The module is taught through lectures, tutorial sessions and online formative quizzes with automated feedback. Assessment is through online tests and an open book final exam. This module is largely an introduction to chemistry and might therefore not be well suited for students who did A-level chemistry or equivalent.

Essential Mathematical Skills (ENVS117)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module is designed to provide students without a A-Level GCE level (or equivalent) background in mathematics a foundation to their degree programme. The module covers pure maths, maths mechanics and statistics developing the required knowledge and skills to be able complete degree programmes in Ocean Sciences, Earth Sciences, Geography, Environmental Science and Marine Biology. The module is taught as weekly lectures following a ten-chapter book developed for the module by world leading experts in the fields. Lectures are supplemented with workshops where concepts can be discussed and skills improved. The module is assessed though online pop-quizzes and a formal written exam.

Mathematics for Physicists I (PHYS107)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

​This module aims to provide all students with a common foundation in mathematics, necessary for studying the physical sciences and maths courses in later semesters. All topics will begin "from the ground up" by revising ideas which may be familiar from A-level before building on these concepts. In particular, the basic principles of differentiation and integration will be practised, before extending to functions of more than one variable. Basic matrix manipulation will be covered as well as vector algebra and an understanding of eigenvectors and eigenvalues.

Theory and Laboratory Experiments in Earth Surfaces Processes (ENVS165)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

The module uses a lecture and laboratory-based problem-solving approach to explore some of the fundamental physical and chemical processes underlying physical geography. It is designed to provide a foundation for environmental and physical geography modules in the second and third year. This module comprises multiple whole-day practical sessions, each designed to give students first-hand experience of a topic important in understanding our changing environment. Students get formal feedback in each assessed week (one poster per group). However, perhaps most valuable is the feedback obtained informally via discussions during the sessions.

Programme details and modules listed are illustrative only and subject to change.

Our curriculum

The Liverpool Curriculum framework sets out our distinctive approach to education. Our teaching staff support our students to develop academic knowledge, skills, and understanding alongside our graduate attributes:

  • Digital fluency
  • Confidence
  • Global citizenship

Our curriculum is characterised by the three Liverpool Hallmarks:

  • Research-connected teaching
  • Active learning
  • Authentic assessment

All this is underpinned by our core value of inclusivity and commitment to providing a curriculum that is accessible to all students.

Course options

Studying with us means you can tailor your degree to suit you. Here's what is available on this course.

Global Opportunities

University of Liverpool students can choose from an exciting range of study placements at partner universities worldwide. Choose to spend a year at XJTLU in China or a year or semester at an institution of your choice.

What's available on this course?

Year in China

Immerse yourself in Chinese culture on an optional additional year at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University in stunning Suzhou.

  • Learn Chinese
  • Study in a bustling world heritage city
  • Improve employment prospects
  • Study Chinese culture
  • 30 minutes from Shanghai
  • Learn new skills

Read more about Year at XJTLU, China

Language study

Every student at The University of Liverpool can study a language as part of, or alongside their degree. You can choose:

  • A dedicated languages degree
  • A language as a joint or major/ minor degree
  • Language modules (selected degrees)
  • Language classes alongside your studies

Read more about studying a language

Your experience

At Liverpool, we place a great deal of emphasis on learning through experience. You will be taught in Europe’s most advanced teaching laboratories and will participate in a strong fieldwork programme that will help to prepare you for solving real work problems. You will have access to excellent resources, including research-level analytical equipment and computing facilities, and will be trained in industry-standard methods using materials donated by companies. All our degree programmes will provide you with specific scientific training, as well as equipping you with a wide range of transferable skills valued by employers. You will graduate as a practical, confident and employable earth scientist.

We have a very active Earth Sciences student society – The Herdman society. The society runs academic and social events from guest lectures and field trips to gala dinners, symposiums and sports events.

Supporting your learning

From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:

Careers and employability

There has never been a better time to study Earth sciences. Many of the fundamental questions of our times will be answered by geoscientists, as we seek to provide sustainable resources for the world’s population, as well as predict and mitigate climate change and natural hazards by building a better understanding of the planet on which we live.

Our recent graduates have gained employment within a degree-related field or continued within further education after graduation. We have close links with geoscience and environmental industries ensuring that our degrees properly equip you for future employment.

Recent employers

  • Geological Surveys in the UK and abroad
  • Hydrocarbon and support industries: ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Geotrace, Geokinetics, Neftex, Robertson, Deloitte, CGG, Osiris, PGS
  • Engineering and environmental consultancies: The Environment Agency, Environmental Resources Management, URS Corporation, Caulmert Ltd, VerdErg Renewables, RSK Geophysics, RSK Environment, Geomaterials, Fugro
  • Mining and related industries: Gold Fields, Rio Tinto, Cliffs Natural Resources, Geological Solutions, Hanson Aggregate Marine Ltd, Aggregate Industries.

89.5% of environmental sciences students are in work and/or further study 15 months after graduation.

Discover Uni, 2018-19.

Fees and funding

Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.

Tuition fees

UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)
Full-time place, per year £9,250
Year in industry fee £1,850
Year abroad fee £1,385
International fees
Full-time place, per year £27,200
Fees are correct for the academic year 2024/25. Please note that the Year Abroad fee also applies to the Year in China.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support. Learn more about paying for your studies..

Additional costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This includes costs for a lab coat, geological field kit, and sustenance during compulsory field trips.

Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.

Additional study costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This includes costs for a lab coat, geological field kit, and sustenance during compulsory field trips.

Students should expect to cover the following costs.

Lab coat- approximately £10-20. Students are advised to purchase a lab coat before the start of their studies. The first lab practical will take place in teaching week one and all students are required to wear a lab coat.

Geological field kit – £69.50. Students are advised to purchase the recommended field kit from the School’s online shop before the start of their studies. Field kits will also be available on campus at the start of the semester. The field kit contains:

  • Compass clinometer
  • Helmet
  • Hand lens
  • Stereonet
  • Michel-Levy chart
  • Hi-vis jacket
  • Grain size card
  • Large, clear plastic bag
  • Whistle

Project/dissertation costs – the School may provide a budget of up to £200 for certain field or lab-based projects. Desk-based projects receive no budget from the School.

Compulsory field courses – students will undertake compulsory field courses in years one, two and three. The School will normally cover the cost of accommodation and travel for these courses. Students are required to cover sustenance (food and drinks) costs.

Geophysics (North America) programme only- additional costs of year three in North America are around £1,500‐ £2,000 (costs will vary according to the type of accommodation, flights etc). £600 travel bursary available from the University.

Find out more about additional study costs.

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to provide tuition fee discounts and help with living expenses while at university.

Check out our Liverpool Bursary, worth up to £2,000 per year for eligible UK students. Or for international students, our Undergraduate Global Advancement Scholarship offers a tuition fee discount of up to £5,000 for eligible international students starting an undergraduate degree from September 2024.

Discover our full range of undergraduate scholarships and bursaries

Entry requirements

The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.

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Your qualification Requirements

About our typical entry requirements

A levels

AAB including one science (Acceptable sciences: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, Geography, Environmental Science, Applied Science, Use of Mathematics.)

Applicants with the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are eligible for a reduction in grade requirements. For this course, the offer is ABB with A in the EPQ.

You may automatically qualify for reduced entry requirements through our contextual offers scheme.

T levels

T levels are not currently accepted.

GCSE 4/C in English and 4/C in Mathematics
Subject requirements

For applicants from England: For science A levels that include the separately graded practical endorsement, a "Pass" is required.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

Not accepted. Applicants should apply to F600

International Baccalaureate

35 points with no score less than 4, including one science subject at Higher Level

Irish Leaving Certificate H1, H1, H2, H2, H2, H3 including H2 or above in one science
Scottish Higher/Advanced Higher

Not accepted without Advanced Highers at AAB including one science subject

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Accepted at Grade B alongside AA in A levels (including one science subject).
Access Not accepted. Applicants should apply to F600
International qualifications

Many countries have a different education system to that of the UK, meaning your qualifications may not meet our direct entry requirements. Although there is no direct Foundation Certificate route to this course, completing a Foundation Certificate, such as that offered by the University of Liverpool International College, can guarantee you a place on a number of similar courses which may interest you.

English language requirements

You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language, unless you’re from a majority English speaking country.

We accept a variety of international language tests and country-specific qualifications.

International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.

English language qualification Requirements
IELTS 6.0 overall, with no component below 5.5
TOEFL iBT 78 overall, with minimum scores of listening 17, writing 17, reading 17 and speaking 19
Duolingo English Test 105 overall, with no component below 95
Pearson PTE Academic 59 overall, with no component below 59
LanguageCert Academic 65 overall, with no skill below 60
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0500 Grade C overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking and listening. Speaking and listening must be separately endorsed on the certificate.
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0990 Grade 4 overall, with Merit in speaking and listening
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0510/0511 0510: Grade C overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0511: Grade C overall.
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0993/0991 0993: Grade 5 overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0991: Grade 5 overall.
International Baccalaureate Standard Level grade 5 or Higher Level grade 4 in English B, English Language and Literature, or English Language
Cambridge ESOL Level 2/3 Advanced 169 overall, with no paper below 162

PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH

Do you need to complete a Pre-Sessional English course to meet the English language requirements for this course?

The length of Pre-Sessional English course you’ll need to take depends on your current level of English language ability.

Find out the length of Pre-Sessional English course you may require for this degree.

Pre-sessional English

If you don’t meet our English language requirements, we can use your most recent IELTS score, or the equivalent score in selected other English language tests, to determine the length of Pre-Sessional English course you require.

Use the table below to check the course length you're likely to require for your current English language ability and see whether the course is available on campus or online.

Your most recent IELTS score Pre-Sessional English course length On campus or online
5.5 overall, with no component below 5.5 6 weeks On campus
5.5 overall, with no component below 5.0 10 weeks On campus and online options available
5.0 overall, with no component below 5.0 12 weeks On campus and online options available
5.0 overall, with no component below 4.5 20 weeks On campus
4.5 overall, with no component below 4.5 30 weeks On campus
4.0 overall, with no component below 4.0 40 weeks On campus

If you’ve completed an alternative English language test to IELTS, we may be able to use this to assess your English language ability and determine the Pre-Sessional English course length you require.

Please see our guide to Pre-Sessional English entry requirements for IELTS 6.0, with no component below 5.5, for further details.

Contextual offers: reduced grade requirements

Based on your personal circumstances, you may automatically qualify for up to a two-grade reduction in the entry requirements needed for this course. When you apply, we consider a range of factors – such as where you live – to assess if you’re eligible for a grade reduction. You don’t have to make an application for a grade reduction – we’ll do all the work.

Find out more about how we make reduced grade offers.

About our entry requirements

Our entry requirements may change from time to time both according to national application trends and the availability of places at Liverpool for particular courses. We review our requirements before the start of the new UCAS cycle each year and publish any changes on our website so that applicants are aware of our typical entry requirements before they submit their application.

Recent changes to government policy which determine the number of students individual institutions may admit under the student number control also have a bearing on our entry requirements and acceptance levels, as this policy may result in us having fewer places than in previous years.

We believe in treating applicants as individuals, and in making offers that are appropriate to their personal circumstances and background. For this reason, we consider a range of factors in addition to predicted grades, widening participation factors amongst other evidence provided. Therefore the offer any individual applicant receives may differ slightly from the typical offer quoted in the prospectus and on the website.

Alternative entry requirements

Changes to Geology MESci

See what updates we've made to this course since it was published. We document changes to information such as course content, entry requirements and how you'll be taught.

7 June 2022: New course pages

New course pages launched.

21 May 2024: Geology Mesci

In the ‘Course Overview’ section, replace ‘Semester two of year three can be spent abroad at a partner university in Australia or New Zealand.’ with ‘This programme also has a year abroad option, an incredible opportunity to spend an academic year at one of our partner universities.  On the 4-year integrated masters programme, you can go abroad either between Year 2 and 3 (apply in Year 2) OR Year 3 and 4 (apply in Year 3).’

In’ Course Options’ section. Under the global opportunities tab, add ‘Year Abroad’ as a tab.