Geology & Geophysics

Geology & Geophysics Programmes

We teach a range of programmes in Geology & Geophysics and Geography that are enriched by our cutting edge research and focused on the needs of students as they prepare for their careers.

Acknowledged experts in their fields, teach our courses, while actively pursuing research across the full spectrum of Geology and Geophysics, from the planet's core to its surface.


Geology is concerned with understanding the evolution of planet Earth and the Solar System. It deals with fundamentals such as the origin of the chemical elements and the history of life. Geology encompasses processes that range from cataclysmic to almost imperceptible and everything in between.


Students and experts alike must grapple with mind-stretching periods of time (the Earth formed more than 4 billion years ago) and must employ diverse basic disciplines to reconstruct ancient continents, ocean basins, ice caps and atmospheres. Being able to understand and 'see' what the Earth was like in the past is one of the most enriching aspects of being a Geologist. Challenges in modern Geology include anticipation of the life-history of buried radioactive waste, mitigation of risks in cities built on volcanoes, discovery of new Earth resources to sustain growing populations, and understanding how climate may affect movement of crustal plates.

Geologists uniquely integrate and apply all of the basic sciences to comprehend the Earth System and they necessarily investigate processes on atomic to planetary scales. Although much of the training is laboratory based, a full appreciation of the Earth essentially involves field studies, for example in mountain belts, fossil swamps, deep roots of volcanoes, or along exhumed faults. The Geologist is uniquely placed to comprehend how Earth worked in the past, how it works now, and what may happen in the future.  A Geology degree doesn't just provide a good scientific background, it enriches your appreciation of your environment, and it also develops your awareness of issues likely to affect all our lives.


Geophysics investigates the fundamental structure and evolution of our planet. It involves the application of physical principles to the study of the Earth, and, increasingly, the other planets. Geophysics concerns some of the most violent and gentle of phenomena, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, to the gradual rise of land once covered by ice sheets.


That many of Earth's processes are related to each other, and require study from the microscale to planetary scale, and on time scales of milliseconds to billions of years, is what makes geophysics so exciting and challenging.

Measurement of physical properties in the laboratory, over the Earth's surface, or even from space, such as the strength of gravity, the Earth's magnetic field, the temperature under the Earth's surface, and most importantly recording of seismic waves created by earthquakes, provide powerful information about how the internal processes of the Earth work, and how they affect us at the surface.

Application of these techniques is vital economically: geophysics provides us with the fundamental tools for oil and mineral exploration, and is increasingly important in environmental applications. It is also very important politically: the nuclear test ban treaty is policed by looking for the seismic signatures of atomic bombs, and geophysics also makes important contributions to the study of global change.


As members of one of the world's top scientific universities we have fantastic collaborators on our doorstep, from fields such as Oceanography, Geography, Ecology, Engineering, Life Sciences, Department of Computer Science and the Physical Sciences. This gives rise to exciting, innovative and influential lines of research that in turn have inspired strong partnerships with organisations such as the Environment Agency, the British Geological Survey and leading industries. All of this provides our students with an inspiring environment in which to grow their knowledge, experience and skills.

Find out more about our Undergraduate programmes.

A number of the School’s degree programmes involve laboratory and field work. The field work 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.