Environmental Geology MSci (Hons)

This programme explores the interactions between the Earth, people and ecosystems, and among the issues you’ll study are pollution of water resources, natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions and how to predict them, and human impact on the environment through mining and waste disposal.


As part of this programme you will carry out a major independent project that will include both field and laboratory work.

The course is extremely flexible, allowing you to specialise in the areas that most interest you during your final two years. Our MSci Environmental Geology programme offers the opportunity for you to follow your interest in the area more fully, and to develop key skills for career development.

Please note: We are not accepting applications or deferrals for 2018 entry

The Geological Society accredited degree programme logoOur Earth Sciences degree programmes are accredited by the Geological Society of London, highlighting that they offer sound training for a professional career in the geosciences, and satisfy the academic requirements of Fellowship and Chartered Geologist status.

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Inspecting the findsAs an Environmental Geology student you will examine natural environmental hazards such as volcanic eruptions, as well as studying the impact of humans on the environment, including groundwater pollution, land contamination and climate change amongst other areas.

In the first year, you will follow the same programme as those studying Geology and will additionally study Global Environmental Issues. In the second year, you will have a choice from a range of modules, including a number from our Environmental Science programmes. Third - and, for MSci students, fourth - year choices allow you to specialise in areas of Environmental Geology where you may wish to go on to work. Support from our experienced careers team will set you in good stead to apply for positions in organisations that interest you.

Project work is an important part of the programme. You will complete an environmental project, which will have varying amounts of fieldwork and laboratory work.

The fourth year of an MSci includes a major research project (worth half the year) undertaken as part of active research in the school (for more information about research visit the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences research pages). Your research project, along with associated researched-focused modules including a fieldtrip to Tenerife, will train you in academic research skills for either postgraduate study, a research degree (PhD), or employment.

Why study this course

Earth Sciences at Birmingham combines a proud history with an exciting future. Founded in 1881 by Professor Charles Lapworth, one of the pioneers of geological science, we immediately established a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

The Geological Society accredited degree programme logoOur Earth Sciences degree programmes are accredited by the Geological Society of London, highlighting that they offer sound training for a professional career in the geosciences, and satisfy the academic requirements of Fellowship and Chartered Geologist status.

Kheelan Patel, Environmental Geology student "I’ve developed a range of skills during my time here such as team work and geological mapping, and enhanced both my analytical and communication skills." 
Find out why our students are glad they chose us


Our portfolio of modules across our degree programmes is incredibly varied and intellectually stimulating – which is why we give you the opportunity to choose what you want to study. The course is extremely flexible, allowing you to specialise in the areas that most interest you during your final two years.

Skills for future employment

Our graduates have exciting and varied career paths. You will acquire sought-after skills that will enable you to forge a career in a range of geology and geology-related industries, from mining to engineering, as well as a host of generic transferable skills. From data analysis and problem solving to communication and team–working, these transferable skills are highly valued by employers and will enhance your employability in the competitive job market.

This degree has been developed in response to the needs of employers looking for graduates with skills in this field, so there is almost certainly a relevant job waiting for you at the end of it.

Find out more about graduate prospects and employability

Research-led teaching

At Birmingham you are taught by academics who are world-leading experts in their fields. The School undertakes research of international significance in a broad range of topics from Palaeoclimate modelling through Magma Emplacement Mechanisms to Hydrogeology and Palaeobiology. In these fields and others Birmingham academics are making a major contribution to our understanding of the planet’s environment, both past and present. This research influences the teaching that takes place and means that the content of our courses reflect the very latest advances and are at the cutting edge of Earth Science.


Year 1

Compulsory modules

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Optional modules

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Optional modules

Year 4

Compulsory modules

Optional modules


The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this course are for students starting in 2017. Modules for 2018 starters will be available from 1 September 2017.

Fees and funding

Standard Home/EU student fees 2017-18

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Standard international student fees 2017-18

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £19,710

Learn more about fees and funding

Learn more about our scholarships and awards 

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
At least one science° A level subject

°Subjects considered to be sciences: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Electronics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology and Statistics.

Specified subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

Unconditional offers will be made to high-quality applicants who are predicted AAA or above at A level. For details see the Unconditional Offer Scheme 2017.

Unconditional offers are based on:

  • A Level predictions of AAA +
  • 7 GCSEs at grade A or A* including English, Maths and a science


  • International Baccalaureate Diploma: prediction of 32 overall with 6,6,6  plus GCSE requirements as above. Higher level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall. Higher level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification, where applicable.

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com
Learn more about applying

Please note: We are not accepting applications or deferrals for 2018 entry.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

How you learn is as important as what you learn. The learning experience at Birmingham combines a wide variety of study methods extending way beyond the lecture theatre, to include extensive fieldwork, practical work and tutorials.

You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.

An inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment

Our cutting-edge teaching programme is built on a foundation of over one hundred years of research and teaching excellence. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. You will learn from academic specialists at the top of their fields and the world-leading research they carry out feeds directly into our degree programmes. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.

Extensive facilities

student using a microscope As well as lectures, tutorials and practical classes you will have access to extensive educational facilities across the School and University including library resources, a well-equipped map room, state-of-the-art laboratory and IT facilities, and purpose-built learning spaces. You will also have a wealth of opportunities to go out into the field; gaining hands-on experience on residential courses across the UK and overseas.

We are also home to the nationally important  Lapworth Museum of Geology, one of the finest geological collections in the UK, and an invaluable study resource. Following a £2.7m redevelopment project, the Museum includes new galleries and innovative exhibits to showcase exceptional objects that have not previously been displayed.

Support during your studies

You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham. We also have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University.  You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support. 

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the Centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.



Fieldwork is an essential element of our degree programmes, and Earth Sciences at Birmingham has an outstanding reputation for providing its students with high quality field training.

Video transcript here

As a single honours student, you will spend approximately 80 days in the field during your degree. On the Geology and Physical Geography or Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments programmes you will spend approximately 40 days in the field.

Because it is such an important part of our programmes, fieldwork is arranged with the majority undertaken during term time. In each of the first two terms, a full week is dedicated to field studies and associated work. We offer a range of local one-day field trips, as well as residential trips to Pembrokeshire, the Scottish Highlands, Dorset and Cornwall, southern Spain and Tenerife.

During these courses you will receive rigorous training in field techniques, including both group and individual work, and your confidence, ability and experience in the subject will grow with each successive piece of fieldwork.

Field training at Birmingham culminates in a project which involves up to six weeks field work in an area of your choice. You will work in areas adjacent to those of your classmates and share accommodation, usually in the UK, but may also find yourself working abroad. In recent years, our students have undertaken projects in countries as diverse as Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Romania and the USA. Part of this work takes place in term-time at the end of your second year. The data and resulting report form a significant part of your final degree.

Our students find fieldwork particularly enjoyable. Whether sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive.

We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout their time at Birmingham.

Find out more about  fieldwork costs and funding.

Contact hours

In Year 1 of your Environmental Geology degree you can expect an average of about 11 hours of contact time per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring). This will be made up of lectures, practical laboratories, and small group teaching. On top of this there will be approximately 14 days of contact on field courses.

In Year 2 you can expect an average of about 7 hours of contact time per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring). This will be made up of lectures, practical laboratories, and small group teaching. On top of this there will be approximately 16 days of contact on field courses.

In Year 3 you can expect between an average of about 6-9 hours of contact per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring) depending on optional modules chosen. On top of this there will be approximately 6 days of contact on a field course.

In Year 4 (your MSci year) you can expect an average of between 6 and 8 hours of contact per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring) depending on optional modules chosen. On top of this there will be approximately 5 days of contact on a field course. 

Assessment methods

In addition to lectures, our degrees in Geology involve extensive fieldwork, practical work and tutorials. You'll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You can expect to take examinations, make oral presentations, as well as carry out regular project work, practical and field-based exercises.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done.

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching at school or college. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with your subject and find things out for yourself. We will support you in making this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

During your first year you will be given a formal transition review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you may need support. Your personal tutor who is based in the School can help with any academic issues you encounter.

By choosing to study with us you will embark on an enriching journey building a strong foundation for your professional future. Your studies will take you many places; all the time giving you invaluable real-world experience.

You will acquire sought-after skills that will enable you to forge a career in a range of geology and geology-related industries, from mining to engineering, as well as a host of generic transferable skills.

Where could an Earth Sciences degree take you?

Recent graduates have found employment in a wide range of fields. Our most recent student survey showed that many students from Earth Sciences were engaged in work or study directly related to their first degree, with the remainder choosing career paths in areas outside of the subject where the transferable skills gained on the programme prove invaluable.

Significantly more of our graduates gain employment in geology and geology-related areas than those of other UK universities. Geology careers are extremely diverse, with students going into a wide range of professions. Increasing numbers of our graduates are employed in environmental planning, land remediation hydrogeology and pollution control. Opportunities in some fields, notably the oil and minerals industries, vary from year to year. Other employers include the British Geological Survey (BGS), local authorities, museums, government organisations and engineering and construction companies. Other graduates decide on a career in teaching either from primary or right through to further education. Many students also go on to careers around the world in locations including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Increasingly, a successful career in geology is helped by having a higher qualification. Nearly half of our graduates go on to further study before taking a job, either by completing a one-year MSc course or researching for a PhD.

Find out more about career opportunities in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Preparing you for your career

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. 

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you.  Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV's and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Hear from our students - find out what other students have gone on to do.

Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by the Geological Society of London, leading to Chartered Geologist status and Fellowship of the Society.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Shape your academic experience

Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future. Find out more on the Guild of Students website


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

Societies, School and campus life

The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences is one of the friendliest and most dynamic at the University. There’s a great atmosphere and sense of community among students and staff. Learning apart, there is a lot going on, much of it driven by the two main student societies:

The Kinvig Society - named after the first head of the Geography Department, Robert Henry Kinvig – is one of the biggest and most active student societies on campus. Run by students, it lays on a lively and varied programme of social events throughout the year, culminatingin the black-tie Kinvig Ball at one of the city’s top venues in November and the Three Peaks challenge in aid of chosen charities. As well as trips to restaurants, bars and nightclubs, there are sporting events: Kinvig sports representatives organise teams for the inter-departmental University sports leagues. Football, rugby, hockey, netball, volleyball and squash are usually available for both men and women; in some cases, for mixed teams as well. If you’re a geographer or environmental science student, Kinvig will write to you before term starts with a full programme of events to help you settle in happily during your first few weeks.
Follow Kinvig on Twitter

The Lapworth Society (LapSoc) is the student society for Earth Sciences students. Named after Birmingham’s first Professor of Geology, Charles Lapworth, it organises social events such as pub quizzes, drinks nights and the end-of-year-ball in March. It fields intermural sports teams in the University’s netball and six-a-side football leagues, training regularly and playing matches every Wednesday afternoon against other schools across campus.
Follow LapSoc on Twitter