Geology (5 years), MGeol

Geology (5 years), MGeol


Providing a knowledge of the way the Earth works and is vital to the understanding of the nature and origin of Earth's resources.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
60 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
Degree marketing image

Designed to bridge the gap between our BSc Geology and Petroleum Geography programme and higher degrees, be they a taught masters course or a PhD. This course also enhances employment prospects by providing hands-on access to technical data and software, much of it arising directly from industry.

You apply for this MGeol as any other UG course, through UCAS (for UK students). If you are already an Aberdeen student, you can transfer on to MGeol if you are following an appropriate BSc (e.g. Geology and Petroleum Geology). Throughout the UK the MGeol is now the most usual route taken by Earth Scientists into a PhD and satisfies European expectations of a pre-PhD university education (opening greater opportunities for higher study abroad). However, the generic training in problem-solving and teamwork are also especially valued by non-Earth Science employers, making the MGeol a good choice for students considering broader career paths. It is also widely used as a bridge into taught vocational masters courses.

What You'll Study

The courses studied on the programme follow a similar pattern to those covered on the BSc Geology and Petroleum Geology programme. The MGeol is a 5th year and offers up the chance to specialise in different areas.

Year 1

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.

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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.

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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’.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

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

Stratigraphical Principles (GL2014)

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.

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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.

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Geophysics (GL2511)

15 Credit Points

This course establishes the fundamental principles underlying the main methods of geophysical exploration data and their interpretation as applied to Earth Sciences. This includes some basic principles of continuum mechanics and stress and strain as used in structural geology as well some basic principles of geophysical fluid dynamics as relevant to sediment transport and deposition in sedimentology.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

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
Principles of Petroleum Geology (GL3018)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the key issues surrounding being a geologist in the petroleum industry. With the changing nature of hydrocarbon exploration and production, both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons are considered. The key concepts of the origin and generation of hydrocarbons, reservoir rocks and subsurface reservoir structures (traps) are introduced, together with some of the key techniques used within the industry (e.g. reservoir geology, petrophysics and formation evaluation). Practical issues such as how hydrocarbon wells are drilled and how rocks are sampled in the subsurface are also considered.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 15 credit points from from courses of choice

Year 4

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

Petroleum Geology: Geochemistry and Geofluids (GL4028)

Geological Synthesis (GL4530)

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.

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Surface and Subsurface Digital Imaging (GL4529)

15 Credit Points

The subsurface course module will cover the input, storage, management, mapping and image process of seismic dataset. The module will be taught through laboratory practicals supported by short introductory lectures to the seismic acquisition, processing and interpretation and that will cover general theories, methodologies and applications. The laboratory exercises will be based on using and implementing Petrel and Midland Valley's Move software to solve a range of issues and to highlight their use for seismic interpretation and test.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 5

Year 5

The MGeol year is designed to bridge the gap between our Petroleum Geology BSc programme and higher degrees.

Compulsory Courses
Integrated Sedimentary Basin Systems (GL5040)

15 Credit Points

The aim of this course is to develop skills in integrative earth science, pulling together modern research on sedimentary basin evolution and applying this to fieldwork in a sedimentary basin system. Fieldwork is a compulsory part of this course. Fieldwork may involve crossing rough terrain, including steep gradients, rocky areas and along cliffs, and may take place during inclement weather. Any student with concerns about this, who feels adjustments or additional support may be required, should contact the University's Disability Adviser or the Department Disability Co-ordinator as early as possible.

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Geoscience Research Skills and Data Analysis (GL5041)

15 Credit Points

The aim of this course is to develop critical thinking, presentation and project design skills for research together with an enhancement of the necessary skills in numeracy, data manipulation and data interpretation. The course involves substantial workshop-based and student-led practical work designed to provide direct experience of these key components.

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Geological Models (GL5043)

15 Credit Points

The aim of this course is to develop skills in applying geological models in scientific investigations, especially in the prediction of subsurface structure and properties, together with the validation of structural interpretations. The course involves substantial workshop-based and student-led practical work designed to provide direct experience of these key components.

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Research Project (GL5507)

60 Credit Points

A substantial research project is a key element of the MGeol programme which gives students the opportunity to tackle a piece of original earth science that is supported by structured tutorial sessions. The project can be drawn from any area of geoscience relevant to the central theme of sedimentary basins subject to the availability of data and advisor expertise. At the end of the project you will prepare a technical report, a short public-facing account of your findings and give an illustrated oral presentation. Project work is highly valued by employers and recruiters as indicators of independence and endeavour.

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Petrological Applications to Geological Problems (GL5058)

15 Credit Points

Students will learn how to determine geological processes through application of microscopic techniques. This will include transmitted light microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Cathodoluminescence and quantitative mineral analysis by Electron Microprobe. The students will work through a suite of geological materials based around themes determined by the underpinning geological processes. These themes will include: deformation processes, metamorphism, fluid-rock interaction, melt crystallisation, and sedimentary processes.

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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
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • 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 learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year 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, with an overall satisfaction score of 91.7% (compared to a national average score of 83.1%).
  • Aberdeen is the oil and gas capital of Europe making it the most relevant place in the UK to study Geology and Petroleum Geology.
  • Understanding Geology is fundamental to the exploration for hydrocarbon resources and this is why we offer a Petroleum Geology degree at Aberdeen. However, we also ensure you have a basic knowledge of the way the Earth works as this is vital to the understanding of the nature and origin of Earth Resources.
  • Fieldwork is an important element of our Geology 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. The MGeol programme includes a trip to Italy.
  • Aberdeen is geographically perfect for the study of Geology, 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 and links with industry are therefore very strong with employability second to none.
  • You will have the chance to join the Geology and Petroleum Geology Student Chapter. This is an active and very social Student Chapter which will give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge, skills and networks beyond the classroom.
  • To expand skills, knowledge and networks even further, many of our students join the Aberdeen Geology Society.
  • Our BSc degrees are fully accredited by the Geological Society for London.

Entry Requirements


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

General Entry Requirements

2022 Entry

Apply direct to the MGeol with:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB*
  • A Levels: ABB*
  • IB Points: 34 including 6 at HL*
  • Advanced Entry Advanced Highers ABB, A Levels ABB or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Geology

Or you can apply at the end of your BSc: You will need to achieve a 2:1 (CAS of 15 or higher) to get a place on the MGeol programme.

2023 Entry

SQA Highers - a minimum of 4 Highers at AAAB*
A Levels - a minimum of 3 A levels at ABB*
IB - a minimum of 34 points, SL or HL in English and Mathematics.*
ILC - a minimum of 5H with 4 at H2 and 1 at H3 from Chemistry and another Science or Mathematics subject. The grading within band B must be B2 or above.*
*Highers at AB / A level Grade AB / two HL at 6 / two H2 in two Science or Mathematics subjects required.

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


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.

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.


Each year, over 91% of our Geology graduates are in employment or further study 6 months after graduating.

Our degree(s) in Geology open up career opportunities within the global oil and gas industry, as well as other key sectors. Our degrees are highly respected by the oil and gas industry and our graduates are in high demand.

Geology is also a subject that opens up tremendous opportunities for further study, either at MSc or PhD level.

The Prospects 'Options' Series allows you to discover how best to use your degree. The 'Options' series gives an idea of the skills gained throughout your degree, job options, career areas, further study, case studies, contacts and resources. Those studying for a combined degree might find it useful to look at an 'Option' sheet for each subject.

Career Opportunities

  • Associate Technical Professional
  • Borehole Geologist
  • Data Manager
  • Field Engineer
  • Logging Geologist
  • Mudlogger
  • Site Engineering Geologist
  • Well Planning Engineer


This degree holds accreditation from

Geology Labs in the Science Teaching Hub

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

Our Experts

You will be taught by research active academic staff, each with vast knowledge and experience of working in and/or with industry. Some of our staff are truly leading and renowned Geology academics. Each one is passionate about the subject and fully supportive.

Programme Manager
Professor Robert Butler

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.


Image for Geology Field Trips
Geology Field Trips

Geology Field Trips

Scotland can claim to be the birthplace of geology and many fundamental ideas and concepts have been inspired by its wonderful field locations. We make full use of this natural resource, running our field training in world-famous locations.

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SPE Student Chapter

SPE Student Chapter

Society of Petroleum Engineers, Student Chapter is one of the 230 student chapters around the world. Currently, our chapter is managed by 6 elected committee members and is advised by Dr. Akisanya. We have more than 150 members.

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Image for Aberdeen University Geological Society
Aberdeen University Geological Society

Aberdeen University Geological Society

Student-led social and professional events and networking.

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Contact Details

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