Our Geology and Physical Geography MSci with an International Year 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 Geology and Physical Geography with an International Year MSci 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. 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 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. View our full range of Earth Sciences programmes
Follow Earth Sciences at Birmingham on Twitter
This Geology and Physical Geography with an International Year MSci 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.
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 topics that may not be available in the UK. Depending on performance, it is possible to transfer onto this programme at the end of your first year.
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.
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.
Why study this course?
- World top 150 for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by subject 2020
- Employability - Our Earth and Environmental Science graduates are highly employable with 100% in jobs or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016/17)
- The Lapworth Museum of Geology – one of the oldest and finest specialist geological museums in the UK, housing more than 250,000 specimens. Reopen following a £2.7m redevelopment project, it is an invaluable study resource.
- Accreditation - Our 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.
- Research - 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’.
- Fieldwork – (as above). Recent destinations have included South East Spain, the Scottish Highlands and Tenerife. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses will be covered by the University.
Find out why our students are glad they chose us
You may also be interested in...
Our Global Environmental Change and Sustainability courses are uniquely designed to give students experience and understanding of the intersecting challenges that characterise global environmental change and the development of more sustainable approaches.
Global Environmental Change and Sustainability courses
Our Human Sciences courses explore what makes us human at multiple levels including from our biology and our psychology, to our behaviours.
Human Sciences courses