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

Developed on the back of a recognised need for qualified Geophysicists within industry, this programme is delivered by our Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology and equips students with the skills for careers in the hydrocarbon, minerals exploration or 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 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.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
1 Year
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time on campus learning MSc programme which runs in September.

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Earth Physics, Structure and Processes (GL5036) - Credits: 15

This module aims to provide a common level of understanding among students on how geophysics has been used historically and is being used at present (state-of-the-art) to image the structure of the interior of the Earth and to make inferences about the geodynamic processes within the Earth responsible for formation of its surface and near surface (including sedimentary basin formation) where society lives and relies upon the exploitation of its resources.

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Seismic Reflection Processing, Imaging and Quantitative Interpretation (GL5052) - Credits: 15

The student will be trained on the most important essentials of reflection seismics: The theory of seismic waves and their application to data processing both in pre-stack (CMP processing, velocity analysis, stacking, migration) and post-stack environments. Practical exercises involving processing of seismic reflection data will form a significant part of the course with the aim of familiarising students with the key software packages.

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Time Series Analysis and Signal Processing (GL5308) - Credits: 15

An introduction to the theory of time series analysis applied to geophysical data acquisition and real and synthetic seismic signals, including an understanding of the underlying philosophy and mathematical foundations. The main focus will be on signal processing and 1D-2D filtering techniques with consideration to Fourier analysis, seismic travel times and geomagnetism problems. Familiarisation with practical application in a computational laboratory using commercial computational software (such as Matlab and Mathematica).

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Geophysical Inverse Theory and Statistics (GL5309) - Credits: 15

With the advent of larger and more complex datasets, the solution of inverse problems is becoming increasingly relevant in modern geophysics. In this course, as well as learning the fundamentals of inverse theory and statistics, students will be exposed to cutting edge methods used in a wide variety of applied geophysics problems, from receiver function analysis to full waveform inversion. A solid knowledge of statistics is required to properly understand modern geophysical inversion theory, which is why the two components of the course work well together.

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Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Seismology and Earth Imaging (GL5526) - Credits: 15

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.

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Field Geophysical Data Acquisition (GL5533) - Credits: 15

This module focuses on the design, implementation and quality control of geophysical data acquisition in the field. The theory and practical aspects of modern data collection for seismic reflection, seismic refraction, magnetic, resistivity, gravity, electro-magnetic (EM) and passive seismology will be taught so that the students will be equipped to plan and undertake their own geophysical experiments focusing on a variety of geophysical targets. The use of a variety of geophysical equipment in the field will form a significant component of this module.

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Borehole Geophysics, Including Petrophysics and Well - Log Analysis (GL5703) - Credits: 15

Borehole Geophysics provides critically important information about the subsurface through well logging and core analysis. This course will cover the fundamentals of Petrophysics and its use in the analysis of cores and geophysical well logs for reservoir characterisation and hydrocarbon assessment.

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Topics in Advanced Applied Geophysics (GL5704) - Credits: 15

This module is takes students to the boundaries of applied geophysics with content drawn from four areas that are currently the focus of much academic research and which also garner much attention in the media:

  1. Potential field theory and applications [gravity and magnetic];
  2. Electrical/electromagnetic methods and applications, including ground penetrating radar [GPR];
  3. Geophysical hazards; and
  4. Engineering/environmental geophysics. This module is important as it opens up career paths to graduates outwith the resource industries. The balance between the four topics may shift from year to year in response to changing patterns of research and changing employer demand.

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Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Project in Geophysics (GL5910) - Credits: 60

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.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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?

  • We have created a world-class learning environment and we pride ourselves on being a close community of staff and students, working together and sharing experiences.
  • Research in the department focuses on subsurface earth science and its deeper time record. To the department’s traditional strengths in petroleum geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, geochemistry we have recently added significant expertise in geophysics, tectonics, structural geology to form a major research team with the goal to elucidate geological processes in sedimentary basins and their underpinning tectonics.
  • Learn more about our academic-experts working in the department. Our Geology teaching really does benefit from the best of both worlds - research active, industry experinced academics and industry professionals.
  • Organisations that we work with across a number of areas include – Apache, Statoil, Baker Hughes, BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Dana Petroleum,Halliburton, BP, Shell, Pemex and SaudiAramco, to name a few. These links, and more help us deliver world-class teaching and research.
  • We deliver our programmes from world-class facilities with a number of our MSc programmes having dedicated study and teaching space available.
  • Local, national and international field trips play a major part in all our postgraduate teaching. Some are organised directly through the department as part of the degree programme, whereas others are organised through the active student chapters, which offer great networking opportunities and form an essential bridge into careers.
  • In the 2014 REF results, we were 1st in Scotland - Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (Geology and Geosciences) as well as 1st in Scotland for Impact - Geosciences.
  • Recent additions to our portfolio of MSc degree programmes now means we offer one of the most industry relevant, comprehensive and careers-focussed Geoscience portfolios in the UK.
  • Opportunities exist to join our Geology Student Chapter.
  • Our department works closely with the Aberdeen Geological Society and this provides you with networking opportunities with fellow geologists.
  • Our geology graduates move into very successful careers with a large proportion working in senior roles in the industry. 

Entry Requirements


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 Geology degree will also be considered where the applicant has at least one module of Geophysics/proven maths ability.

Key subjects you should have covered: University-level Mathematics including differential calculus, Physics and Geophysics.

English Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Physical Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

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.

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

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £9,600
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £25,000
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • 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 InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Successful completion of this programme will open up opportunities for students with oil and gas operators and mineral exploration companies, as well and dedicated geophysics service companies. Opportunities will also exist in areas such as construction engineering and environmental assessment.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr David Cornwell
Dr Luca de Siena
Dr David Iacopini
Programme Coordinator
Professor Randell Stephenson

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

6th best Geology Department in the UK

6th best Geology Department in the UK - 2016 Complete University Guide


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.

Aberdeen University Geological Society

Aberdeen University Geological Society

Student-led social and professional events and networking.

Find out more

1st for Research Impact - Earth Sciences

1st in Scotland for research impact (REF 2014) 

Contact Us

College of Physical Sciences Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Fraser Noble Building
King's College
AB24 3UE