Our Geology and Physical Geography BSc course is a flexible degree, supported by an extensive fieldwork programme, that will give you a broad-based knowledge of the Earth sciences.
What drives the occurrence of natural hazards, and how can we forecast and respond to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? What can past climate records teach us about future climate change? How is the movement of tectonic plates reflected in the landscape around us? If these are questions that you might ask, then this is the course for you.
The course allows you to select from a large number of options across the Earth Sciences and Physical Geography groups so that you can specialise in the topics that interest you. You could choose to study topics as varied as volcanic hazards, environmental protection, applied micrometeorology, engineering geology, or remote sensing methods. You may go on to work in pollution control or hydrogeology, or you could opt to become a geotechnical engineer, work for the British Geological Survey, carry out research or go into teaching. A Geology and Physical Geography BSc degree from Birmingham sets you up for a wide range of exciting careers.
Year 1 of our Geology and Physical Geography programme shares multiple modules with the Geology programme. Hence, it is possible to transfer between these courses in your first year. You also have the option of transferring onto the four-year Geology and Physical Geography MSci or Geology and Physical Geography with an International Year MSci programme, depending on performance. View our other Earth Sciences programmes
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This Geology and Physical Geography course gives you a broad and comprehensive training and allows you to develop your own specialist interests.
A varied fieldwork programme builds on a variety of lecture and laboratory based teaching, providing you with a range of practical scientific skills.
The first year of the course provides you with a strong foundation in geology and physical geography through a range of exciting core modules. You will build on this in the second year, where you can start to choose from optional modules, covering topics as diverse as continental deformation, geological natural hazards, hydroclimatology and environmental protection. In the third year you will lead the research for your dissertation. This could be anything from an industry-linked project with the British Geological Survey to a remote-sensing project investigating glacier retreat. You can also choose from a wide range of optional modules, and have the option of specialising further if you stay for the four-year MSci programme (dependant upon performance).
Getting out of the lecture theatre and into the field is an exhilarating experience. Whether you're sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive. There's no better way to learn about the natural and the built world than by being in the great outdoors.
Fieldwork is a key element of our degree programmes, and Earth Sciences at Birmingham has an outstanding reputation for providing its students with high quality field training. It offers you the chance to travel, work independently as well as in a group and learn valuable technical skills. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout your time at Birmingham.
The field courses help you to develop as an observational Earth scientist. In year one, semester one there is a one-week residential field course to Northern Ireland. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to Pembrokeshire in SW Wales. These courses will provide you with practical skills and theory spanning the breadth of Earth Sciences. All students taking Earth Sciences courses do these trips together giving you the opportunity to get to know those on the Geology, and the Palaeontology and Geology courses.”
In year two, we continue to develop your core Geology as well as new Physical Geography field skills. There is a one-week residential field course to NW Scotland. This trip focuses on Quaternary Geology and geomorphology. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to SW England working on the world famous “Jurassic Coast" and then down in Cornwall.
The first two years of field training lead to your dissertation project, which will involve field data collection of approximately one week usually carried out between years two and three. This could be in a wide range of topics to suit your interests, from glacial geomorphology to groundwater pollution to volcanic hazards. You will also have the option to undertake your project with an industrial partner, leading to an industry-linked dissertation project. Your project may focus on an aspect of resource or applied geology. Students have recently worked on projects linked with local councils, extraction companies and the British Geological Survey.
In years three (and four if you stay for an MSci), you will select one residential field course each year giving you more control over the shape of your degree: Volcanology in Tenerife, Sedimentary Basin Analysis in SE Spain or Resource Geology in the UK.
The travel and accommodation costs of field courses are included within your fees, and we also offer financial support towards your dissertation field costs. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout their time at Birmingham.
Basic fieldwork kit for all new starters
When you start in Birmingham, we will provide you with the basic field supplies (worth ~£85) that you will need for your degree program. Please note that you are responsible for providing suitable outdoor clothing for fieldwork. For more details see fieldwork costs and funding.
One option on this degree programme is to undertake a Placement Year, which provides you with an opportunity to work with an external organisation for a year, gaining valuable experience and skills that prepare you for your future career. The placement can be with any organisation which allows you to get experience in a sector related to your degree or outside your main discipline. For example, students have completed placements with finance companies, education and environmental charities. With this option, your degree at graduation would be “with a Placement Year”. You don’t have to decide this route at the application stage, but it is an option that you can transfer onto once you are a student here. You will be responsible for sourcing your placement but we will provide support through the Placement Tutor and Careers Network. Your placement would take place after the second year of your degree, and you would then return for the final year at Birmingham. The placement forms part of your degree programme, and includes an assignment that contributes to your overall degree result. The placement year is normally charged at 20% of the normal tuition fee for home students and 50% for non-home students.
Why study this course?
- World top 150 for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by subject 2020
- Fieldwork – Fieldwork is an essential element of our degree programmes, and we have an outstanding reputation for providing students with high quality field training. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses will be covered by the University.
- Research-led teaching – Our world-leading research feeds directly into our programmes, meaning you will learn from academics who are experts in their field. The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results rank research at the University of Birmingham as 3rd* in the UK for ‘Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences’.
- The portfolio of modules across the Geology and Physical Geography degrees is highly varied, and gives you the choice to specialise in the areas that most interest you. Topics cover everything from natural hazards to environmental pollution, urban ecology to hydrogeology, and climate change to tectonic processes.
Find out why our students chose us