Geology at St Andrews will provide you with a deep understanding of the materials, structures, and processes that have characterised the solid earth throughout its 4.6 billion year history. The BSc Geology degree emphasises the origin and chemistry of rocks and minerals, geological mapping, and the processes and events that have shaped the rock record. Teaching provides training in the interaction of the sediments, minerals, and rocks with the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, integrating chemistry, physics, and biology to build a deep understanding of the Geosciences. Applied industrial training will introduce you to the skills and knowledge required by the oil and gas and mining industries, and research projects will allow you to undertake independent field mapping, backed up by rock and mineral analysis.
Teaching style and degree structure
Our teaching philosophy is to provide a thorough understanding of the Earth Sciences, grounded in experiential learning via field and lab-based study, first-hand experience in collecting data and testing hypotheses, and student-led investigative research. Alongside training in the Earth Sciences, we emphasise the development of critical thinking, written and oral presentation skills, and intellectual creativity.
All of our undergraduate degree pathways share classes in the sub-honours years, which are the first two years of your degree. This provides a broad foundation in the Earth Sciences, from which you can find your specific interests and strengths before specialising in your final (honours) years. During your sub-honours years you also have the option to take modules from other subjects, providing the dynamic inter-disciplinary scholarship for which St Andrews is internationally renowned.
Each sub-honours module consists of 4-5 lectures and 1 laboratory session per week, several single-day field excursions during each semester, and tutorial sessions to hone your problem solving skills. Assessment is split between coursework and examination, including both practical and written components.
Honours classes consist of core training, furthering your skills and understanding in key aspects of the earth sciences, and optional modules, allowing you to focus on particular areas of interest and conduct your own research projects. Assessment is either split between coursework and examination, or is based entirely on project work.
Example honours level modules in BSc Geology include:
- Advanced Geological Mapping
- GIS for Earth Science
- Sedimentology & Stratigraphy
- Petroleum Exploration and Geophysics
- Structural Geology and Tectonics
- Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
With supportive and engaging staff and the breadth of Scottish geology at its doorstep, St Andrews is perfectly situated to study all aspects of Earth Science. Dynamic fieldwork opportunities, both within the UK and abroad, supported by innovative lab-based research and teaching by the very best of staff ensures a degree here is a gateway to a world of opportunities.
All compulsory field trips are fully subsidised and include associated travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.
Fieldwork is a key component of our undergraduate degrees, and our graduates are valued as independent and confident field scientists. In total, students participate in at least 70 supervised field days over the length of the degree, and in most cases the amount of fieldwork is over 100 days with the research project component. Time spent in the field not only provides an immersive learning experience, but also builds lasting friendships, and generates the bonds that define our School’s strong sense of community.
Field courses are fully integrated within all of our undergraduate programmes, developing and enhancing material taught in laboratories and classes. Trips range from day-long excursions to the world-class localities on our doorstep, to 2-week trips across Europe.
Field trips in the BSc Geology degree include:
- The “Highland Fling” (5 days, first year) – renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands
- Central Spain (8 days, second year) – geological mapping, with excellent outcrops (and weather!)
- “Mullapool” (14 days, third year) – classic igneous and metamorphic sites around Mull and Ullapool in the NW Highlands
- The Alpine Traverse (14 days, fourth year) – a traverse through the Western Alps, integrating skills, knowledge, and understanding from throughout your degree.
Research dissertation projects in fourth year also have a strong field component, and in recent years have included study of mass extinctions on the Jurassic Coast of Devon, to mapping of recent tectonic activity in Argentina.
The School is proactive about developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. There are a wide variety of career options for Earth and Environmental Sciences graduates, both specifically in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors, as well as in wider science and policy areas. Several of our honours level courses feature lectures and laboratories run by industry professionals, providing hands-on experience with industrial problem solving. Many students undertake research in PhD programmes before embarking on careers in industry or academia. Our graduates are recognised internationally as being highly trained, independent thinkers with the appropriate skills required to problem solve in a variety of research or applied areas.
Our BSc Geology degree is accredited by the Geological Society of London, a professional recognition that our teaching is of the highest standard. Accreditation is a benchmark of quality and employability, and provides a faster track to chartered status. Recent employers of our BSc Geology graduates include BHP Billiton, BP, Shell, the British Geological Survey, Chevron, Maersk Oil Ltd, Nexen Ltd., Neftex, Red Rock Mining, Fugro, Geotechnics Ltd., and Axmin Inc.
For more information on careers click here.
Our placement record has been consistently above 80% and graduates have gone on to jobs across the academic, industry and environmental sectors”.
Course information & How to apply
All aspects of application to our undergraduate degree programmes are considered carefully, including school grades and the personal statement. Specific entry requirements and further information on how to apply are available on the Earth and Environmental Sciences Courses webpage.
A full list of the current Core and Option modules is available from the University Course Catalogue.
More Information: University of St Andrews Admissions