Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, and in addition to lectures this course involves extensive fieldwork, practical work and tutorials.
You will have access to a comprehensive support system throughout your time here that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues.
The most recent assessment by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), who rate the standard of teaching in university departments, scored us here in Earth Sciences as ‘excellent’ – the highest possible grade, something which are proud of and continue to focus on each year.
We also offer excellent facilities for undergraduate study, with state-of-the-art equipment and specialist computer facilities. In 2013 our Earth Imaging Lab was fitted out with a new suite of PCs all with industry standard software, worth £0.5m a year. You will also have access to the renowned Lapworth Museum of Geology.
As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.
To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any 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.
From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.
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. Many fieldtrips are residential, visiting a variety of locations such as Pembrokeshire, the Scottish Highlands and southern Spain.
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. In addition to the obvious geological benefits, it provides you with an opportunity to get to know your fellow students and staff and so feel at home in our friendly department.
Find out more about fieldwork costs and funding.
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.
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.
During your first year you will undergo 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.
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.