Studying this degree course will give you a rigorous training in palaeontology, enabling you to use the fossil record to understand the evolution and diversity of ancient life, from dinosaurs to microfossils.
You will be taught by lecturers from one of the largest and strongest palaeontology research groups in the UK, and our focus on research-led teaching will provide you with exciting opportunities to carry out your own cutting-edge research projects. The rich fossil collections of our Lapworth Museum of Geology provide a unique resource that supports our teaching and research.
This course will provide you with the skills necessary to develop a career as a professional palaeontologist engaged in research and teaching or in museum curation, or as an applied palaeontologist/biostratigrapher within the oil industry. Your core training in geology will also provide opportunities for a potential career as a geoscientist, if this is the career path you would like to take.
Our four-year Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments with an International Year MSci programme provides an opportunity for you to spend a year studying overseas whilst following your interests in Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments more fully, and developing key skills for career development.
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Throughout all four years, two-thirds of your time is spent studying Earth Sciences, with the other third spent studying relevant aspects of biology. All first year modules are compulsory, with a level of choice in the second year and a range of optional modules available in the fourth year.
Firm emphasis is placed on project work, with an extended field and laboratory based project of your choice, as well as a palaeobiological dissertation.
In addition to lectures and practical classes, you can look forward to fieldwork training in palaeobiological and geological techniques. This work is undertaken both in the UK and abroad, and is assessed by means of reports and presentations. Assessment will also involve examinations, project work and class tests.
The third year of your degree is spent at a partner institution overseas and you may also be involved in project work whilst there. Placements are available at a large number of prestigious international institutions, including several partners in the Universitas 21 global association of leading research-based universities. In recent years, Earth Sciences students have studied at universities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.
The fourth year of an MSci includes a major research project (worth half the year) undertaken as part of active research in the school (for more information about research visit the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences research pages). Your research project, along with associated researched-focused modules including a fieldtrip to Tenerife, will train you in academic research skills for either postgraduate study, a research degree (PhD), or employment.
“Birmingham offered a specialised course in Palaeobiology which was perfect for my interests, being a good blend of biology and geology - along with a good selection of field trips.”
Matthew - Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments student
Read more from Matthew...
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.
Find out why our students are glad they chose us
Our portfolio of modules across our degree programmes is incredibly varied and intellectually stimulating – which is why we give you the opportunity to choose what you want to study. The course is extremely flexible, allowing you to specialise in the areas that most interest you during your final two years.
Skills for future employment
Our graduates have exciting and varied career paths. 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.
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.
Optional modules - example optional modules may include:
Choose 40 credits from the following modules:
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 take advantage of the different geological environment to undertake your undergraduate research project in the host country.
Optional modules - 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 2018. 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 2018-19
For UK students beginning their studies in September 2018, 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 2018-19
Fee Band (Undergraduate)
Band 3a (Laboratory)
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 2017/18 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
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- Required subjects and grades:
- A level Biology
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, 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.
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.
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.
An inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment
Our cutting-edge teaching programme is built on a foundation of over one hundred years of research and teaching excellence. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. You will learn from academic specialists at the top of their fields and the world-leading research they carry out feeds directly into our degree programmes. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.
A project led by Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments student Luke Meade, has revealed a new glimpse of the world when reptiles began taking over from amphibians as the dominant land animals.
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 also have a wealth of opportunities to go out into the field; gaining hands-on experience on residential courses across the UK and overseas.
We are also home to the nationally important Lapworth Museum of Geology, one of the finest geological collections in the UK, and an invaluable study resource. Following a £2.7m redevelopment project, the Museum includes new galleries and innovative exhibits to showcase exceptional objects that have not previously been displayed.
Support during your studies
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.
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 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.
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.
Our students find fieldwork particularly enjoyable. Whether sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive.
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.
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.
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, culminatingin 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