Geoscience, BSc

Geoscience, BSc

Introduction

The BSc Geoscience combines geology and physical geography to provides a broad multidisciplinary understanding of the major environmental challenges we face today, including climate change and the impact of humans on the environment, along with practical field skills including mapping, field geology, remote sensing and GIS.

Earth Sciences at the University of Aberdeen is ranked 4th in the UK for student satisfaction by the 2022 National Student Survey, with an overall satisfaction score of 91.7% (compared to a national average score of 83.1%).

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
BSc
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
F610
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme

Our state-of-the-art, purpose-built, Science Teaching Hub is now open, providing students with a digitally focussed environment including advanced analytical tools, research-grade equipment and flexible, safe laboratory spaces. Students will have access to research-grade equipment to best prepare them for their future career, whilst the digitally focussed, completely paperless environment allows for a more hands-on learning experience.

Through lectures, coursework, field study and access to geographical information systems, this programme covers the fundamentals of geoscience, from the origin and formation of the Earth to the causes of climate change, to equip the next generation of experts with a deep appreciation of the science behind the way the Earth works.

You will acquire a deep understanding of the formation of the Earth along with an understanding of the major issues associated with environmental change, resources and prospects for development (sustainable or otherwise). In addition, students also acquire practical field skills in the main geosciences techniques including mapping, field geology, remote sensing and GIS, to apply to your research and future career.

This programme emphasises the multidisciplinary nature of earth sciences, offering you the opportunity to specialise in the areas that interest you the most, through your choice of optional courses and your final year research project.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), 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’.

Creating the Anthropocene (GG1010)

15 Credit Points

This course reflects upon the role humans have played in creating the Anthropocene (the epoch we are now living in), a time period during which Human actions have become more significant than natural processes in shaping the world we currently live in. Drawing primarily upon perspectives from Physical and Human Geography, the nature of the changes, “how did we get here”, are considered, laying the foundations for GG1512 in which “what comes after”, how contemporary society is attempting to tackle Anthropocene challenges, is debated.

The Nature of The Environment Through Geological Time (GL1005)

15 Credit Points

For 4,500 million years the Earth has been, and still is, a continually evolving Dynamic Planet. The record is held in the rocks and fossils of the present continental landmasses and ocean basins. To deduce the history of the planet geologists must apply a large range of scientific principles and disciplines. These disciplines encompass the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The course provides a basic understanding of how the structure and evolution of the planet are deduced and how this information can be used to discover and extract natural resources such as fossil fuels and ores.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming Our World (GG1512)

15 Credit Points

This course interrogates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These encompass contemporary global challenges such as responsible consumption and production, no poverty, clean water and climate action (challenges whose emergence is introduced in GG1010 Creating the Anthropocene). Drawing upon Human and Physical Geography perspectives, a ‘strong’ interpretation of sustainability, one where social and economic dimensions fundamentally rely on ecological foundations, underpins the course.

Earth's Materials (GL1505)

15 Credit Points

Following on from GL1005 this course is an introduction to the petrogenesis of three major rock groups; igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Practical classes will centre around the use of polarizing microscope in the identification of the common rock-forming minerals. The relationship between plate tectonics and the petrogenesis of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, including types and styles of volcanic eruptions will be addressed.

Optional Courses

Select 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

GL2014 - Stratigraphical Principles (15 credit points)

Physical Environments (GG2013)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an understanding of environmental processes and landscape change through time and space. The course places Physical Geography as an integral component of Earth System Science. The first half of the course explores physical environmental processes, whilst the second focuses on evidence of environmental change across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Three themes of glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology will be explored to illustrate the linkages and interactions between process and form over a range of temporal and spatial scales. The course is team-taught by staff with an emphasis on using examples from recent research projects.

Petrology & Mineralogy (GL2015)

15 Credit Points

Petrology and mineralogy is a compulsory course for geology students. It covers igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary petrology. The course has a strong practical component and involves the preparation of workbooks based on individual study and practical exercises that use hand specimens, microscope work and chemical data.

Skills and Techniques in Geosciences (GG2508)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to a range of scientific and social scientific skills and techniques used in Geography. The course content builds towards a residential field trip that takes place in the Easter vacation. Past venues have included the Isles of Skye and Arran, the cities of Inverness and Stirling, and Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. The trips enable students to put into practice the skills and techniques they have been taught through lectures and in workgroup sessions, and to conduct original research into geographical issues covered elsewhere on the programme.

Only available to students registered for programme year 2 of a Geography study aim or to students also taking at least 3 of GG2013, GG2014, GG2509 & GG2510

Mapping and Monitoring the Environment (GG2510)

15 Credit Points

In a digital era of GPS navigators and many online map tools (e.g. Google Maps), there is an increase demand for professionals able to understand and manipulate geographical data and use these to monitor processes at various scales. The course provides a solid background in the acquisition of geographical data, both onshore and offshore with classic field-based and remote sensing techniques. It covers the creation and interpretation of maps and looks at the history of remote sensing and its science as well as providing the essential basis to understanding what a Geographical Information System is.

An Introduction to Field Geology (GL2510)

15 Credit Points

Field-based observation is an essential skill for understanding the origin of rocks, and is a vital reality-check for understanding how Geological Science is practised and developed. This course gives students experience with techniques for investigating rocks in their natural habitat, studying the crucial relationships between different units, and developing good habits for observing and recording data in the field. Students learn how to perceive geology in 3D, and to develop working hypotheses from incomplete evidence. This is achieved through a five-day residential field trip (takes place in the Easter break) which is preceded by wide-ranging practical classes and explanatory lectures.

Optional Courses

Select 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GG3069)

15 Credit Points

This course covers the practical aspects of remote sensing and GIS. It is entirely hands on, and students learn through a series of exercises that becomes progressively more challenging and more specific to different geographical disciplines. By the end of the course students will be familiar with key remote sensing and GIS software and will have learned their fundamental tools. These are highly demanded skills in the job market at present, so this course is strategic for those students potentially interested in a job where these types of tools are employed.

Field and Mapping Techniques 1 (GL3026)

15 Credit Points

This course is based on a residential field programme that enables students to directly study geological phenomena and relationships in the field. it provides hands-on experience and develops 3-D approaches to thinking and problem solving. The learning environment is remote from the university, and encourages students to learn individually and in small group settings. The course covers a range of techniques typically, geological field mapping, sedimentary logging, and examination of detailed field relationships to enable broader scale conclusions to be drawn. Assessments are undertaken during the actual field course. The field course is paid for directly by participants.

Volcanology (GL3030)

15 Credit Points

Volcanology is the study of the physical processes that drive volcanic eruptions, and the products of those eruptions, in relationship to both present-day eruptions and the signatures of those preserved in geological record. Present-day volcanism is a major natural hazard that can cause catastrophic effects on the environment and humankind. Understanding of the physical processes which lead to volcanic eruptions and the dispersion of the products of volcanism are the key to monitoring, mitigation and management of volcanic hazards globally. This course will build on basic geological and geographical principles and knowledge to provide a detailed insight into recent developments in our understanding of volcanism on Earth. Geophysical and other remote sensing methods of volcano monitoring will form an integral part of the course. The mitigation and management of volcanic hazards requires communication between scientists and the general public who are at risk, and consequently emphasis will be placed on providing technical and non-technical reports to guide the population at large.

Techniques in Physical Geography (GG3575)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an introduction to and training in multiple techniques which are used in Physical Geography. These are directly related to our research strengths in glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology. This develops skills across a range of techniques which can be subsequently applied to dissertation projects, for advanced 4th year courses, for higher level education. These techniques all represent transferable skills with may be used applied in the workplace. There are three field days where data are collected with subsequent lab classes providing instruction on how to analyse and interpret the data.

Research Design (GG3574)

15 Credit Points

This core course builds on GG2508 to provide an introduction to the conduct of research in the Geosciences at an advanced level. It is intended to familiarise students with the skills necessary to design, implement and write up effective research. These skills will support work on undergraduate dissertations and other project work. The course also introduces careers research skills, and explores how you can best make use of your degree in the 'real world' after graduation: workshops run in partnership with the University's Career Service provide practical advice and training on how best to develop your career.

Optional Courses

Select 45 credit points from courses of choice.

NOTE: Students are required to gain at least 210 credits from Honours courses in Geography/Geosciences across levels 3 and 4.

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

  • Project (GX4001) - 30 Credits
  • Laboratory data acquisition and analysis (GX4002) - 15 Credits
  • Project (GX4501) - 30 Credits

Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credits including 30 credits from Geography/Geosciences courses.

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 Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Geoscience?

  • Earth Sciences at the University of Aberdeen is ranked 4th in the UK for student satisfaction by the 2022 National Student Survey, with an overall satisfaction score of 91.7% (compared to a national average score of 83.1%).
  • You will be well equipped to pursue careers across the breadth of Geoscience and Geography disciplines.
  • Fieldwork is an important element of this degree, we make the best use of our location in Scotland – close to many great areas for fieldwork.
  • Fieldwork locations include - Arran, Skye, NW Highlands and other areas throughout the UK.
  • Aberdeen is geographically perfect for the study of Geoscience, having some world-class field sites close at hand which can be conveniently visited on day courses. Many of the UK's top 100 Geological sites are within easy reach from Aberdeen and are visited by our students and staff alike.
  • Many past graduates continue to work in the city. Links with industry are, therefore, very strong with high levels of employability from our graduates.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

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


General Entry Requirements

2022 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

2023 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate 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 - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

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

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

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

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
EU / International students £22,800
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

The study of geoscience provides access to a wide variety of careers, including:

Career Opportunities

  • Cartographer
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Analyst
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Planning Analyst
  • Seismologist
  • Surveyor

Geology Labs in the Science Teaching Hub

The new Science Teaching Hub provides geology students with the most modern microscopy laboratories in the UK.

Image for useful fact about this Degree

Ranked 1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK

The University of Aberdeen is ranked 1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK for Geography & Environmental Science by the Complete University Guide, 2022.

Find out more

Introduction to Geography

An introduction into The University of Aberdeen Geography Department for undergraduate students.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Malcolm Hole

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.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

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