Geology, BSc

Geology, BSc

Introduction

Geology - studying the Earth beneath our feet and it’s fascinating 4.5 billion years of history, from volcanoes and earthquakes to dinosaurs and ancient rivers - is central to our transition to a sustainable future.

The BSc Geology programme provides you with the skills you need to explore the processes that have shaped the Earth and its surface and subsurface environments through time, equipping you with powers to address the major modern world challenges, from climate change to sustainable energy, and from water security to natural disasters.

The Science Teaching Hub provides students with the most modern microscopy laboratories in the UK. Our advanced microscopes and cameras allow you to study rocks and capture images like never before.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
BSc
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
Location of Study
Aberdeen
UCAS Code
F601
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme

The BSc Geology is aimed at students who are interested in the physical processes that have shaped our planet and its near neighbours over the last 4.5 billion years, and who want to use our understanding to anticipate and protect the earth's future.

This programme teaches and utilises the latest fieldwork, digital and technological skills and techniques to show you how to extract valuable information recorded in Earth’s rocks, minerals and fossils: an archive that holds the keys to many of the issues we face today such as climate change, water management, natural hazards and transition from fossils fuels to geothermal energy and other sources of renewable energy.

You will examine the origin, structure and composition of the three major rock groups; igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary, learning about the most fascinating and important geological events and how we date them, and developing the professional geological skills needed to gather and interpret data in the field.

In the final two years, you will specialise more in the topics that interest you, for example, climate change through deep time, planetary geology and the effects of life, geology for society, and imaging and interpreting the Earth.

Fieldwork is fundamental to geology, and at Aberdeen, we enjoy easy access to numerous word-class sites, such as Arran, Skye, the North West Highlands of Scotland. The School of Geosciences is also a world-leader in the application of virtual technology, which means our students can learn how to combine the latest digital tools with our unrivalled field study locations.

Geology at Aberdeen extends beyond the Earth to other planets. Using a combination of the vast online resources provided by NASA, and the UK Virtual Microscope’s Apollo collection, students make their own investigations of aspects of the geology of the Moon and Mars and compare results with the geological evolution of Earth.

What You'll Study

Subject to confirmation

Year 1

Two core courses: Earth Through Geological Time, which looks at the evolution of the Earth over the past 4,500 million years, and Earth's Materials, looks at the origin, physical and characteristics of the rocks and minerals that make up the Earth.

Compulsory Courses

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.

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.

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’.

Optional Courses

Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Four courses all of which are taken for Single and Joint Honours programmes. These include Stratigraphical Principles, Petrology & Mineralogy, Geophysics and Introduction to Field Geology, which is a six-day residential course on the Isle of Arran.

Compulsory Courses

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.

Earth’s Life, Environments and Climate Through Time (GL2017)

15 Credit Points

This course explores how Earth’s life, environments and climate have changed through the history of the planet, from its origins until the Recent past. This exciting story, including for example Earth-covering “snowball” glaciations, mass extinctions, and the origins of life on land, is unravelled by looking at fossils, sedimentary rocks and their chemical signals, learning and applying the fundamental methods and principles required to determine sequences of events in Earth's history (stratigraphy).

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.

Geophysics (GL2511)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces you to some of the physics that underlies Earth’s processes, and shows you how geophysical methods can be used to uncover Earth’s structure and processes. From how the Earth moves around the solar system, to how rocks bend and break, from earthquake hazards to uncovering mineral resources, this course will allow you to gain skills and knowledge that will be important for the rest of your degree and future careers.

Optional Courses

Plus 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

Year 3 is the start of the Honours degree and all but one course option in each semester is geology focused. At year 3 there are two main residential field courses as well as day field trips.

Compulsory Courses

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.

Structural Geology & Tectonics (GL3027)

15 Credit Points

This course covers all main aspects of structural geology and tectonics and entails 1 hour lectures and 3 hour practicals each week, together with a field excursion to relatively local geology. The significant practical component allows 'hands on' learning with worked examples being provided by staff. The field excursion allows students to directly apply skills and techniques that have been covered in preceding lectures and practicals. with worked examples then provided in follow-up sessions. The course covers a spectrum of brittle and ductile structures that are developed across a range of scales from microscopic to mountain belt.

Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology (GL3520)

15 Credit Points

This course is in 2 parts. In part 1, the students explore the links between tectonic setting and magma genesis, with particular reference to geochemical signatures recorded in the rocks. In part 2, students look at how different bulk protolith compositions control the metamorphic mineral paragenesis, with an emphasis on observing and recording evidence from textures in thin sections. In a world of post-peak oil, exploration for new reserves is now moving to igneous and metamorphic rocks, and a thorough understanding of these rocks is essential for the practising geologist.

Sedimentology (GL3521)

15 Credit Points

Sedimentology is fundamental to interpreting past climate and geography from the evidence in the rock record of the environment in which sediment was deposited. This course develops the skills needed to make such interpretations by cultivating proficiency at description and process-based interpretation of sedimentary successions, and showing how study of modern environments is used to decipher sedimentary processes. We review the controls on the preservation of sediments to make the rock record, including an introduction to the concepts of genetic (sequence) stratigraphy, and see how this can improve discovery and recovery of water and hydrocarbon resources in the subsurface.

Field & Mapping Techniques 2 (GL3525)

30 Credit Points

This course teaches the advanced field skills necessary for all practising geologists, and serves as preparation for the summer mapping project (GL4023). The material builds on that covered in GL3026 (Field & Mapping Techniques 1). Preliminary laboratory classes in Semester 2 are used to prepare students for the field exercises on the 10-day field trip. The students will learn how to systematically collect, analyse and present their own field data as part of wider scientific studies.

Project / Dissertation (GL3508)

15 Credit Points

A dissertation not exceeding 5,000 words based upon an original geological investigation or a literature review.\_x000D_ \_x000D_ Or, where appropriate, the submission of a piece of independently executed fieldwork, in the form of a map and brief accompanying memoir, may be permitted at the discretion of the Course Coordinator.

Optional Courses

Plus 15 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 4

One of the main components of the BSc final year is the 5 week independent field project. You undertake your independent research over the summer between years 3 and 4, and much of the autumn term is focused on working up the report.

Compulsory Courses

  • Frontiers in Earth Science (GL4036)
Geological Mapping Project (GL4023)

45 Credit Points

35 days of individual geological field mapping. During the exercise the student will devise and carry out a research project based on an aspect of the area mapped and submit a final map and report.

Integrative Geology Through Fieldwork (GL4532)

15 Credit Points

Field observations and their interpretations together with other datasets and imagery, allied to focussed laboratory work on geological materials, may be integrated to inform understanding of geological processes that play within and upon the earth’s crust. The course will enhance essential geo- and reasoning skills through integrated field, laboratory and desk-top investigations showing how geological processes interact in time and place – a culmination of the BSc Geology programme.

Geoscience and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (GL4535)

15 Credit Points

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". This course introduces the importance of geoscience in achieving these goals by 2030. This includes carbon capture and storage, geothermal energy, critical minerals for the energy transition and more. The course is interactive with guest speakers and extended question and answer sessions.

Planetary Geology (GL4033)

15 Credit Points

On this course you will become an interplanetary explorer, learning how to conduct real scientific research and synthesise data, guided by experts. You will apply your skills to learn and discover new things about aspects of lunar and planetary geology that interest you.

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

  • E-learning
  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

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 Geology?

  • Earth Sciences at the University of Aberdeen is ranked 4th in the UK for student satisfaction by the 2022 National Student Survey.
  • Geology at Aberdeen is ranked 6th in the UK by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.
  • You will learn the latest professional fieldwork skills and techniques including: recording sedimentary successions (“logging”); recording structural and spatial data; presenting geological data on maps; recognising the character of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks at scales larger than hand specimen; and conducting fieldwork safely, effectively, and responsibly.
  • The Science Teaching Hub provides students with the most modern microscopy laboratories in the UK. 

  • A part of their Honours Curriculum students have extended their geological reach to Earth’s Satellites and other planets. Profs Javier Martin-Torres and Maria-Paz Zorzano of the Department of Planetary Sciences have joined forces with Drs Alex Brasier and Malcolm Hole of the Department of Geology & Geophysics to deliver a 15 credits module on Planetary Sciences.  
  • You will also gain experience using specialist software, including that used for virtual modelling of geological features and processes, and for visualising and understanding the Earth on scales from hundreds of kilometres to smaller than a single grain of sand.
  • You will have access to the School of Geoscience’s world-class facilities and equipment and laboratories, including 3D Seismic Interpretation Facilities; ACEMAC Nano Scale Electron Microscopy and Analysis Facility; Dirty and Clean Sedimentary Laboratories; Geochemistry Laboratory; GIS Equipment; Hydrology Laboratory; Petrographic and Stereomicroscopes; Petrophysics Laboratory.
  • You will have the opportunity to join professional societies to expand your knowledge, skills and professional networks beyond the classroom.
  • The School of Geosciences is at the forefront of developing the latest digital technology. V3 Geo, for example, has been developed by Aberdeen geoscientists and is a bespoke public repository and viewer for 3D virtual geoscience models, with a focus on virtual geological outcrops.
  • Year 1 and Year 2 of the BSc Geology programme shares numerous courses the BSc Geology and Petroleum Geology programme, and it is possible to transfer between these two programmes.

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

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.

2024 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 access criteria are are guaranteed a conditional offer. 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
EU / International students £24,800
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 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

Geology graduates can enter careers directly related to the earth sciences, including finding and maintaining water resources (hydrogeology), energy (including for example geothermal, moving us to a sustainable future), mining (including for the precious metals needed in all modern technology, and for noble gases needed for medical equipment), and environmental management.

As scientists equipped to cope with uncertainty and absence of data, Geologists are also sought for their transferable skills and knowledge, for example, in the financial sector.

Geology Labs in the Science Teaching Hub

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

Geology Fieldwork

Fieldwork is fundamental to geosciences, and at Aberdeen, we enjoy easy access to dozens of world-class geo-sites across Scotland.

Geology is ranked 6th in the UK

Geology at Aberdeen is ranked 6th in the UK by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Our Experts

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