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.
Our Geology and Physical Geography course is a flexible degree, supported by an extensive fieldwork programme, that will give you a broad-based knowledge of the Earth sciences. The course allows you to select from a large number of options and to 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.
The MSci programme gives you the opportunity to develop independent research skills and follow your interest in the Earth sciences more fully. It provides an ideal foundation for academic research or employment as a professional geoscientist. 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 MSci programme shares several modules with the Geology programme, and it is possible to transfer between these courses in your first year. You also have the option of transferring onto the Geology and Physical Geography with an International Year MSci programme, depending on performance. View our full range of Earth Sciences programmes
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This 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 applied geophysics, hydroclimatology and geomorphological processes. 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.
The fourth year allows you to specialise further and 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.
“The projects gave me the courage and knowledge to identify minerals and rock types and make connections between relationships”
Stacie Jones - MSci Geology and Geography
Read more from Stacie...
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.
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), enabling you to explore a broad range of environments and processes. Some of these courses are shared with Geology students, while on others you will be covering different topics with other Geology and Physical Geography students.
New for 2018: Year 1 field course in Northern Ireland.
The first two years of field training lead to your dissertation project, which will involve field data collection. This could be in a wide range of topics to suit your interests, from glacial geomorphology to groundwater pollution. 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.
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.
Find out more about fieldwork costs and funding.
The portfolio of modules across the Geology and Physical Geography 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 environmental pollution, urban ecology to hydrogeology, and climate change to tectonic processes.
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.
Find out why our students chose us
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; 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.
The Year 2 content builds on the first year, covering a range of specialised topics. Compulsory modules cover sedimentology, past environments, and a resources module, and you can also choose two or three options from diverse selection. The Year 2 field courses take you to North West Scotland, where you will focus on quaternary processes and geomorphology, and to Dorset and Cornwall, where you will cover a wide range of exercises, from palaeontology to structural geology.
Plus 30 credits (up to a total of 120 credits) of optional modules. Example optional modules may include:
Compulsory modules in Year 3 include your dissertation – a mapping project in an area of your choice, where you will undertake fieldwork the previous summer – and the Basin Analysis module, which is a field-based module in South East Spain. This course introduces a variety of new geological environments and rock types.
You can specialise further by choosing modules from a wide variety of options, ranging from more applied and resource-based topics through to environmental and ecological modules. Example optional modules may include:
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.
You also take two optional modules (except those taken in Year 3). 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.
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
Fee Band (Undergraduate)
Band 3a (Laboratory)
Learn more about fees and funding
Learn more about our scholarships and awards
- 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
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 Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 5 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.
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 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.
“Working alongside industry partners has given me the opportunity to apply my knowledge learnt at university.”
Laura - BSc Geology and Physical Geography
Read more about Laura's experiences
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
“The course provided me with the skills and knowledge needed to work within the petroleum industry.”
Colette - MSci Geology
Hear more graduate stories
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
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.
This degree 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.
Follow Kinvig on Twitter
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