Geology with an International Year MSci (Hons)

Geology is the scientific study of our planet’s evolution – understanding how it has been shaped over billions of years and what it will be like in the future. It truly is a global science.



From monitoring volcanic eruptions and investigating climate change, through to unravelling the disappearance of the dinosaurs or finding acceptable ways to dispose of nuclear waste, a Geology degree at Birmingham will give you a broad-based knowledge of Earth sciences. The International Year programme gives you the opportunity to spend a year studying in an Earth sciences department overseas, before returning to Birmingham in Year 4 to specialise further. You will graduate with a broad range of experience and independent research skills - an ideal background for a wide variety of professional careers.


Our extensive fieldwork programme and flexible range of options allows you to specialise in the topics that interest you. You may go on to work in the mining or oil industry, hydrogeology, pollution control or environmental protection; or you could opt to become a geophysicist, geotechnical engineer, work for the British Geological Survey, carry out research or go into teaching. A Geology degree from Birmingham sets you up for a wide range of exciting careers.

Year 1 of the programme shares several modules with the Geology and Physical Geography programme, and it is possible to transfer between these courses in your first year. View our full range of Earth Sciences programmes  

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student using a microscopeThis course gives you a broad and comprehensive training in geology 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 through a range of exciting core modules. You will build on this in the second year, before undertaking your dissertation fieldwork. 

The third year of your degree is spent at a partner institution overseas, where you will study from a range of optional modules. Placements are available at a large number of prestigious international institutions. In recent years, students have studied at universities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. This allows you to experience living and studying overseas for a year, and to potentially study some geological topics that may not be available in the UK. 

You will return to Birmingham in your fourth year, where additional options allow you to specialise further and to develop key career skills through leading your own research project. This independent project accounts for half of your final year, and may involve links with industry. You will develop your research plans with an academic member of staff. Several MSci students have published their research or presented it at conferences, and the MSci year provides excellent training for further research or a professional geoscience career. 

Depending on performance, it is possible to transfer onto this programme at the end of your first year of BSc Geology or MSci Geology.

Emma Lindsay quote image

“I could take classes taught by experts in a huge variety of geological industries not prevalent in the UK (from petroleum reservoir stratigraphy to diamond formation in kimberlite pipes) – areas I’d never have had the opportunity to explore without going abroad.”

Emma - MSci Geology with an International Year
Read more about Emma's International Year experiences


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.

Montana Negra fieldtrip

The field courses help you to develop as an observational Earth scientist. Each field course is part of a compulsory assessed module. Current residential field course destinations include South West Wales, the Scottish Highlands, Dorset and Cornwall, southern Spain and Tenerife (for four-year programmes).

New for 2018: Year 1 field course in Northern Ireland

The first two years of field training culminate in your dissertation (mapping) project, which involves up to six weeks fieldwork in an area of your choice, in the summer between Year 2 and 3. Many students stay in the UK for this, but students have also recently undertaken projects in Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Romania, New Zealand and the USA. You will also have the option to undertake your fieldwork with an industrial partner, leading to an industry-linked project. Your project may focus on an aspect of resource or applied geology. Recent partners include Tarmac, Hope Cement, Hanson and the British Geological Survey. 

Mandy Li quote image

“Working alongside an industry partner has allowed me to practise skills learned at university in the working world, to focus on a clear set of objectives for my project, and to develop my time management, teamwork and communication skills.”

Mandy - BSc Geology
Read more about Mandy's experiences of working with an industry partner

The travel and accommodation costs of field courses are included within your fees, and we also offer support to all Geology students (currently £500) towards their mapping project. 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.

Why study this course

The portfolio of modules across our Geology degrees is varied and intellectually stimulating, and gives you the choice to specialise in the areas that most interest you. Topics cover everything from natural hazards to applied geophysics, ore geology to hydrogeology, and past climates to vertebrate palaeontology.

Our graduates have exciting and varied career paths. Many of our modules are designed with employers in mind and you will acquire sought-after skills, using specialist software and datasets, which will enable you to forge a career in a range of geoscience industries. Whatever you go on to do, you will have acquired a host of highly valued transferable skills, from data analysis and problem solving to communication and teamworking. Find out more about graduate prospects and employability

You will be 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 to volcanology, and from marine geophysics to palaeontology. 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 feeds directly into our teaching, and means that the content of our courses reflects the very latest advances in the Earth sciences.

“This course benefited me because I got to study a subject I enjoyed and in later years I was able to choose the modules and so tailor the course to my particular interests and future career path in the subject.”

Catherine - Geology graduate 
Hear more from our students and graduates


Year 1

Compulsory modules

The first year provides you with a broad training in topics across the subject, through several compulsory modules. We don’t assume any prior knowledge, and you don’t have to have studied geology before. The chemistry, physics and maths that you require is taught in the context of individual modules, and applied to the problems that you’re investigating. The Field Skills module includes one-day regional field trips and a residential trip to South West Wales, training you in key skills in geological observation, data recording and interpretation.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

The Year 2 content builds on the first year, covering a range of specialised geological topics. This content is compulsory, and ensures that your degree meets the accreditation requirements. The Year 2 field courses take you to Norh West Scotland, where you will focus on geological mapping skills, and to Dorset and Cornwall, where you will cover a wide range of exercises, from palaeontology to structural geology.

Year 3

Your third year is spent at a partner institution overseas.

There you will have the opportunity to study a number of modules which will count towards your final degree. The year abroad will deepen your learning by exposing you to a new environment with different opportunities.

You may also choose to take advantage of the different geological environment to undertake your undergraduate mapping project in the host country.

Year 4

Compulsory modules

The compulsory Year 4 modules include your major research project – in a topic that you will have devised with an academic – and a skills-based module. The skills module includes a field course in Tenerife, focused on volcanic processes and hazards, as well as training you in research and science communication.

Optional modules

You also take two optional modules from a wide variety of topics. Example optional modules may include:


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

Standard Home/EU student fees 2019-20

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, 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 2019-20

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £21,180

Students who are classed as Home/EU for fee purposes, are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee if spending the whole academic year abroad (for 2018/19 this is £1,388). Find out more about funding for your year abroad.

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: Geology, Geography, Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths, Statistics, Electronics, Environmental Studies, Computing and Psychology.

Specified subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking

Additional information:

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

Applicants may be eligible to be considered for the Unconditional Offer Scheme. For details see the Unconditional Offer Scheme 2018.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 6 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
Learn more about applying

Earth Imaging LabEarth Imaging Laboratory

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 staff who are active researchers in their field, ensuring that taught material is at the cutting edge of the science, and that you receive a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Find out more about staff in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

An inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment

From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.

Lapworth Museum of Geology - allosaurusLapworth Museum of Geology

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 use the Earth Imaging laboratory, where practical classes involve everything from microscope and map work to using specialist industry software. Our teaching is supported by the nationally important collections of the Lapworth Museum of Geology, an invaluable study resource.

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 taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

Contact hours

In Year 1 of your 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 10 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 19 days of contact on field courses.

Year 3 will be spent at a partner institution overseas.

In Year 4, you can expect an average of between 5 and 6 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.

Related research

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.

Where could a degree in Earth Sciences 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. 

Rig at dawnGeology 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.

See examples of what our graduates go on to do

colette lyle quote image

“The course provided me with the skills and knowledge needed to work within the petroleum industry.”

Colette - MSci Geology

Hear more graduate stories

Transferable skills

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.

Tailored careers support

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.

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, culminating in 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.
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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