BSc Geology and Physical Geography (FF68)

Students on fieldwork

How does human interference in our environment compare with natural changes? How is the movement of continental plates reflected in the landscape around us? If these are questions that you might ask, then this could be the course for you. This degree course in Geology and Physical Geography mainly attracts students who are interested in the physical side of geography.The Geological Society accredited degree programme logoIt emphasises and explores the common ground between physical geography and Earth sciences, drawing on a variety of approaches to explain the way in which the surface of the Earth is shaped. This course will suit an inquisitive student, who is keen to travel and work outdoors. You will study across across both subjects, giving you an excellent grounding for a wide range of careers in a growing sector.

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Course fact file

UCAS code: FF68

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 109 (all Geology courses)

Applications in 2013: 646

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

First year

Modules in the first year introduce you to basic geology (Earth History, and Internal and Surface Processes), and on the geography side of the course you will explore Global Environmental Processes and Pembrokeshire (see fieldwork video). You will also be trained in data handling techniques and computing, and fieldwork takes place in South Wales.

Second year

The second year allows you to study more advanced modules including Fossil Environments, Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology. The geography programme covers environmental change, ecology and hydroclimatology, past, present and future. You undertake fieldwork in the UK and a field or field/laboratory-based project, that can have either a geology or geography emphasis, or may lie at the interface of the two disciplines. There is a transfer option to the MSci available after year 2.

Third year

The third year consolidates the learning of the first two, with core modules as well as a range of optional ones in either Geology or Geography. There is more fieldwork, this time in Spain, and you will write up a dissertation around your own project.

 

Stacie Jones quote

Why study this course

Earth Sciences building with Old Joe 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.

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.

The Geological Society accredited degree programme logo All our Single Honours degree programmes including Geology and Physical Geography are accredited by the Geological Society of London, (with the exception of Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments) and include extensive fieldwork in the UK and abroad.

Modules

Year One

Core modules Credits
Field skills 1 (Central England & South Wales) 20
Topics in Ecology & Environment (Literature & writing skills) 10
Earth Systems and Sedimentary rocks 20
Structure and tectonics 10
Earth History 10
Introduction to Palaeontology 10
Earth Materials and internal processes 20
Global Environmental Issues 20

Year Two

Core modules Credits
Project planning for major projects 10
Field Skills 2 for GPG and PP (Assynt, SW England) 20
Sedimentology 20
Resources of the Earth (Economic and industrial geology) 20
Resources of the Earth (Economic and industrial geology) 10
Reconstructing Quaternary Environments 20
   
Optional modules  
Environmental transfer processes 20
Geomorphological processes 20
Environmental and Evolutionary Palaeobiology 10
Introduction to Hydrogeology 10
Environment Assessment and Management 20
Hydrogeology: climate and water 20
Ecological systems 20
Continental deformation 10
Applied Geophysics 10
Igneous and metamorphic petrology 10

Year Three

Core modules Credits
Major project 30
Basin Evolution and Neotectonics (Spanish field course) 10
   
Optional modules  
Magmatic processes 10
Global tectonics 10
Sedimentary Basin Analysis 20
Micropalaeontology 20
Climates of the Past 20
Petroleum Geoscience 20
Managing Geological hazards and anthropogenic impacts 20
Applied Geology: Engineering geology and pollution hydrogeology 20
River processes, deposits and environments 20
Environment and Landscape change (ᶲ) 20
Landscape and Urban Ecology (ᶲ) 20
Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere 20
Environmental Protection 20
Applied Micrometeorology 20
Weather, Climate and Society 20
Environmental Justice 20

Year Four (for students who transfer to the MSci programme)

Core modules Credits
Advanced project

60

Advanced fieldwork (International destination)

10

Advanced in Earth Sciences (current research synthesis)

10

 

 

Optional modules (but not modules taken in year 3)

 

Sedimentary Basin Analysis

20

Petroleum Geoscience

20

Evolution of Vertebrates

20

Micropalaeontology

20

Applied Geology: Engineering Geology and Pollution Hydrogeology

20

Managing Geological Hazards and Anthropogenic Impacts

20

Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater

10

Environmental Geophysics

10

Groundwater organic contamination and pollution remediation

20

Magmatic processes

10

Global tectonics

10

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

Required subjects and grades: A Level Geography. Grade C in each of GCSE English and Maths.

General Studies: We do not accept Citizenship Studies, Communication and Culture, Critical Studies, Critical Thinking, General Studies, Global Perspectives, Science in Society and World Development.

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements 

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points with 6, 5, 5 including Geography at HL. 5 points in each of SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.

 

Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

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

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.

Learning and teaching

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.

Personal Tutor

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

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.

Undergraduate students undertaking fieldwork in the UK

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.

Students collecting samples during fieldwork 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.

Assessment methods

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.

Related research

Contact

Admissions Tutor: 
Dr James Wheeley
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6158
Email: j.r.wheeley@bham.ac.uk

General admissions enquires:
Student Recruitment Team
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 8327
Email: uggeologyadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Employability

The education you will receive by studying our programme, with an emphasis on rigorous observation, data collection and interpretation, means that job prospects for you as an Earth Sciences graduate are excellent.

Surveys of recent graduates have shown that 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 right through to further education. Many students go on to careers around the world in locations including Australia, New Zealand and Canada - many also choose to stay in the UK of course!

Earth Sciences UG Employability 2013 graduates Earth Sciences - undergraduate destinations - 2013

Find out more about career opportunities in Earth Sciences

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.

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.

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

Contact

Admissions Tutor: 
Dr James Wheeley
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6158
Email: j.r.wheeley@bham.ac.uk

General admissions enquires:
Student Recruitment Team
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 8327
Email: uggeologyadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk