Geophysics (with Pathways), MSc

Geophysics (with Pathways), MSc

Introduction

Providing professional-level geophysics training and education to open up career opportunities across a number of industries and for future academic research.

New For September 2024! The MSc Geophysics offers two distinct pathways with different combinations of courses for students commencing in September 2024.

  • Geophysics Pathway - designed for students interested in a career in a broad range of industries with advanced geophysics activities (primarily energy sector, environmental and construction sectors, marine exploration) or in geophysics research (through PhD).
  • Energy Resources Geophysics Pathway – designed for students interested in a career in the energy industry (either fossil fuels or renewables), consultancy, government or policy.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
Location of Study
Aberdeen

Developed on the back of a recognised need for qualified geophysicists within industry, this programme is hosted by the Department of Geology & Geophysics and is delivered by staff across the School of Geosciences supplemented by external experts.

It equips students with the skills for careers in the energy transition, hydrocarbon and minerals exploration, renewable energy, environmental sciences, earth data science and machine learning, and associated service industries, or broader geophysics research.

This unique programme is designed to expose students to the theory and practice of modern geophysics, with an emphasis on cutting edge techniques for understanding and visualising the structure, dynamics and composition of the Earth from the near surface to the deep interior.

The content is broad-based and integrative with a strong focus on the quantitative aspects of geophysical data analysis and interpretation, from conventional approaches such as inversion and signal processing, to data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Here, you will learn from experienced geophysics staff and key industry experts, delivered in world-class facilities with dedicated teaching and study space and explore the theory of geophysics and its application to a multitude of research and industry problems across a variety of scales, via a curriculum that covers the broad fundamentals and new technologies.

We place specific emphasis on students gaining hands-on experience in using industry-standard software and acquiring geophysical data with our large pool of geophysics equipment (including broadband seismometers, seismic reflection/refraction, ground penetrating radar, resistivity tomography, magnetometers and differential GPS).

Pre-Sessional Resources

Download our Pre-Sessional Tests and Reading Guide for diagnostic mathematics tests and a list of recommended textbooks and reading material.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Students selecting the Geophysics Pathway will select:

  • GL5011 Geophysics & Petrophysics* (Petrophysics part only)
  • GL5036 Earth Physics Structure and Processes
  • GL5059 Near Surface and Environmental Geophysics
  • GL5060 Timeseries Analysis and Inverse Theory

Students taking the Energy Resources Geophysics Pathway will select:

  • GL5011 Geophysics & Petrophysics
  • GL5059 Near Surface and Environmental Geophysics
  • GL5060 Timeseries Analysis and Inverse Theory
Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Earth Physics, Structure and Processes (GL5036)

15 Credit Points

This course aims to develops students' understanding of the fundamentals of Earth’s structure and geodynamic processes, introducing geological concepts to those from a more physics-based background, and fundamental physics to those from a geoscience background. By the end of this course students will be able to explain how Earth's structure and processes are governed by the underlying physics, and describe how the Earth deforms and the consequences of this on the surface of the Earth. This course will also develop students' coding skills and give them experience in reading scientific papers and in scientific writing.

Near Surface & Environmental Geophysics (GL5059)

15 Credit Points

This module focuses on the application of geophysical techniques for solving near surface environmental problems. It covers basic theory and practical aspects of modern data collection for near surface magnetic, gravity, resistivity, electro-magnetic (EM), ground penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic refraction, along with case study examples of application to the assessment and monitoring of a range of scientific and technical environmental problems including water resources, geotechnics, contaminated lands, civil engineering, mining, geothermal resources, archaeology. The module will be taught so that the students will be equipped to plan and undertake their own geophysical experiments focusing on a variety of near surface geophysical targets. The use of a variety of geophysical equipment in the field will form a significant component of this module.

Time Series Analysis and Inverse Theory (GL5060)

15 Credit Points

This module is designed to give students a range of computational skills associated with time-series analysis and inverse theory. The module content will be delivered in the form of lectures, practicals and webinars.

Time series analysis and inverse theory is of paramount importance in exploration geophysics and computational sciences. The students will get familiar with signal processing and optimisation. This will open up multiple career paths in geoscience and STEM in general.

Geophysics and Petrophysics (GL5011)

30 Credit Points

By the end of this course, the student should:

  • Understand the Petrophysical rock properties that affect fluid storage and movement (Porosity, Permeability, Saturation, Mineralogy).
  • Understand the primary wireline and LWD logging tools: Measurement, Fundamental physical principles, and applications.
  • Understand the theory of seismic signal description.
  • Appreciate the main processes involved in a typical seismic data-processing suite.
  • Understand the basic concepts of seismic stratigraphy and the interpretation of seismic data.
Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Students selecting the Geophysics Pathway will select:

  • GL5575 Seismology and Earth Imaging
  • GL5545 Seismic Acquisition and Processing
  • GL5709 Machine Learning in Geophysics
  • GL5573 Field Geophysical Data Acquisition and Subsurface Digital Mapping

Students taking the Energy Resources Geophysics Pathway will select:

  • GL5571 Geothermal Flow
  • GL5545 Seismic Acquisition and Processing
  • GL5572 Subsurface Storage and Sequestration
  • GL5573 Field Geophysical Data Acquisition and Subsurface Digital Mapping
Seismic Reflection Acquisition and Processing (GL5545)

15 Credit Points

This module will cover on the most important essentials of reflection seismics: from basic to advanced information on how seismic data are acquired and processed to generate images of the subsurface. Practical exercises involving processing of seismic reflection data will form a significant part of the curriculum with the aim of familiarising students with key industry software packages.

Field Geophysical Data Acquisition and Digital Subsurface Mapping (GL5573)

15 Credit Points

This module will take students to the boundaries of applied geophysics, through hands-on training to academia and industry standard techniques in field geophysical data acquisition, visualisation, and mapping. The course content is drawn from academic research, industry geophysics case studies, and dedicated field geophysics training. It provides skills that open up career paths to graduates in a range of geophysical industries. The balance between topics and techniques may shift from year to year in response to changing patterns of research and changing employer demand.

Seismology and Earth Imaging (GL5575)

15 Credit Points

Modern seismology is wide-ranging and encompasses topics such as earthquake and tsunami hazard, the structure and dynamics of the Earth and other terrestrial planets, exploration for hydrocarbon and minerals, monitoring of micro-seismicity for a variety of purposes (carbon sequestration, induced fracturing and aftershock surveys) and even ocean circulation and weather variations. This course will teach the fundamentals of modern seismology, from exploration to the solid Earth, and will include a component on seismic imaging, which is the premier tool for illuminating Earth structure from small to large scales.

Machine Learning in Geophysics (GL5709)

15 Credit Points

This module is designed to give students a range of skills associated with data-driven approaches and machine learning. Machine learning has revolutionised numerous scientific fields and it has begun to change the paradigm in geosciences by providing real-time solutions to non-trivial and computationally intense problems. Throughout the module the students will become familiar with the basic concepts and tools of machine learning. This will open up multiple career paths in geoscience and STEM in general.

Geothermal Flow (GL5571)

15 Credit Points

Through lectures delivered by academics and industry professionals, you will develop a general understanding of the role of fluid flow, heat transfer, and fractures in different geothermal systems. You will gain practical experience in reservoir modelling and sustainable reservoir management using industry standard computing software. During a field trip to a geothermal site, you will learn about risks and pitfalls in practice. An independent research project provides an opportunity to expand your knowledge on a representative geothermal field.

Subsurface Storage and Sequestration (GL5572)

15 Credit Points

Lectures and practical exercises will provide you with the knowledge and skills to de-risk the subsurface for storage of energy (in the form of compressed air and hydrogen), and for the safe and long-term storage and sequestration of CO2. Seminars will introduce case-study examples of storage within porous rocks, evaporites and volcanics. The course concludes with a group project that is designed to emulate how a subsurface storage site would be evaluated by a technical team in industry.

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Students on both the Geophysics Pathway and the Energy Resources Geophysics Pathway will take GL5910 MSc Project in Geophysics in their third semester.

Project in Geophysics (GL5910)

60 Credit Points

This course provides the student an opportunity to design and execute the workflow of the data treatment (including in exceptional cases the possible of acquisition), processing, analysis and modelling, and interpretation of a geophysical dataset in the context of Earth structure or processes and/or exploration goals relevant to resource industries. The project is an extended, independent, self-directed, piece of practical work integrating and reinforcing the material taught on the course, and giving a detailed insight into the demands of, and ways of working in academia or industry.

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £28,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £13,200
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

MSc Geophysics Scholarships:

Other relevant scholarships:

Scholarships

Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Continuous assessment will play a major part in the programme, as well as course specific project work and exams.

One-third of the overall assessment will be attributed to an individual project involving original research or applied work. Students may gain direct support from industry during the individual project.

Why Study Geophysics (with Pathways)?

  • Choose courses from either the Geophysics Pathway (designed for students interested in a career in a broad range of industries with advanced geophysics activities such as the energy sector, environmental and construction sectors, marine exploration) or the Energy Resources Geophysics Pathway (designed for students interested in a career in the energy industry (either fossil fuels or renewables), consultancy, government or policy.
  • Develop your own ideas, strategies and solutions during the self-directed geophysics project with academic and industry mentorship.
  • Form part of and share experiences with a close community of academic staff, research fellows, PhD students and other MSc students across the Departments of Geology & Geophysics, Geography & Environment and Planetary Sciences.
  • Experience local, national and international fieldwork, both through postgraduate teaching and active student chapters, which offer great networking opportunities and form an essential bridge into careers.
  • Join and take an active role in running an EAGE and SEG student chapter in Aberdeen, our AAPG Geology Student Chapter, the Aberdeen Geological Society and the PESGB. These active societies provide you with networking and learning opportunities through lecture series, fieldwork excursions and social events.
  • Benefit from research active, industry experienced academics and industry professionals – learn more about our academic experts working in the department.  Gain experience in a wide range of geophysical techniques and their applications to subsurface imaging and monitoring, for targets such as civil and environmental engineering, regional and planetary characterisation, natural hazards, resource exploration and the energy transition.
  • Develop a coherent theoretical background in a suite of geophysical methodologies and advanced interpretation methods, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Study in a Department whose research focuses on subsurface Earth science and its deeper time record. Traditional strengths in petroleum geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, geochemistry have been recently expanded by adding expertise in geophysics, tectonics, structural geology and planetary sciences.
  • Current industry geophysics teaching partnerships include Shearwater, BHGE, CGG and a number of independent geophysical contractors. 

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen. Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is

  • a Geophysics, Mathematics or Physics degree at 2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours level (or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth).
  • Those with a 2:1 in Geology, Engineering Geology, Environmental Science or similar degree will also be considered where the applicant can demonstrate proven ability in Geophysics, Mathematics and/or Physics. Key subjects you should have covered: At least one University-level Mathematics and/or Physics and/or Geophysics module.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

CV
an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships

Careers

Successful completion of this programme will open up opportunities for students with oil and gas operators and mineral exploration companies, as well as dedicated geophysics service companies related to renewable energy, and civil and environmental engineering.

Two-thirds of our graduates now enjoy a geophysics industry career, with a quarter undertaking geophysics research towards a PhD or University lecturing, and the remainder are employed in the digital technology or other sectors.

Career Opportunities

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Consultant
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Exploration Geoscientist
  • Geophysicist
  • Marine Geophysicist
  • Production Scientist
  • Seismologist

Learn more about MSc Geophysics at Aberdeen

Learn more about the MSc Geophysics programme, including information on available pathways, field trips, industry connections, career opportunities after graduation, and funding.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Iraklis Giannakis
Dr Amy Gilligan
Dr Katrin Loer
Dr Rachel Brackenridge
Dr David Cornwell
Programme Coordinator
Dr Jean-Christophe Comte

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Features

Image for Geophysics Field Trips
Geophysics Field Trips

Geophysics Field Trips

Field-trips play a major part in the learning process. Students get the chance to test out their new-found skills whilst using state-of-the-art equipment.

Image for Aberdeen University Geological Society
Aberdeen University Geological Society

Aberdeen University Geological Society

Student-led social and professional events and networking.

Find out more
Image for Aberdeen University Geophysical Equipment Repository (AUGER)
Aberdeen University Geophysical Equipment Repository (AUGER)

Aberdeen University Geophysical Equipment Repository (AUGER)

AUGER is a suite of geophysical equipment available for research or commercial projects.

Find out more

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX