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F600 Geology BSc Undergraduate  2018


UCAS code F600
Degree BSc
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A-Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 2198

Course Summary


The degree courses offered by the Department are intended to give all students as much flexibility as possible, while retaining the core Earth Science subjects. Individual degree courses are comprised of modules, and students take a total of six modules (120 credits) in each academic year. This allows you to follow your own interests, as they develop.

In the first year you will be introduced to major topics in the Earth Sciences, the practical skills required to study rocks and fossils in the field and study skills. We encourage all first-year students to participate in the Durham Award, allowing you to demonstrate you have the skills necessary to succeed in future employment. In year two you will deepen your understanding of these topics. A key part of this year is to gain the knowledge and skills required to undertake your Dissertation. In year three a mix of compulsory and elective modules allow you to specialise and study topics at the cutting-edge of Earth Sciences. The MSci Earth Sciences course allows those with an aptitude to make the first steps to a research career. The majority of our degrees are accredited by the Geological Society of London, this gives you the assurance our teaching is of the highest quality, has been approved by an independent body of academics and industrialists and provides a fast track to Chartered Geologist status.

Year 1
Compulsory modules:

  • Principles of Earth Sciences 
  • Earth Materials
  • Understanding Earth Sciences
  • Field Studies.

Optional modules:

  • Environment and Resources 
  • Mathematical Methods in Geosciences 
  • Further Mathematics for Geoscientists
  • Physics for Geoscientists
  • Up to two modules from another academic department.

Year 2
Compulsory modules:

  • Fieldwork (Geological) 
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics 
  • Sedimentary Environments 
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Geochemistry and Petrology

Optional modules:

  • Geophysical Methods for Geoscientists
  • Geoinformatics 
  • Palaeoecology
  • The Geological Evolution of the British Isles
  • Water and Climate
  • Modelling Earth Processes
  • One module from another academic department.

Year 3
Compulsory modules:

  • Dissertation 
  • Challenges in Geodynamics I

Optional modules:

  • Earth System and Climate 
  • Earth Structure and Dynamics
  • Petroleum Geophysics
  • Sedimentary and Petroleum Systems
  • Magmatism
  • Palaeobiology
  • Tectonics and Deformation Processes
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Earth Sciences into Schools
  • Hydrogeology and Geomechanics.

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, tutorials and fieldwork. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate. Practical classes and fieldwork allow students to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in Geology while tutorials address specific transferrable skills and allow the students to raise particular problems.

The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as students develop their knowledge and the ability as independent learners that is one of the key attributes that the programme develops in its students (thereby preparing them for work or further study once they have completed the programme). In the first year students typically attend 6 hours a week of lectures, and 12 hours of practical classes. Students are also required to attend 6 tutorial sessions during the academic year. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to undertake their own independent study to prepare for their classes and broaden their subject knowledge. Students are expected to attend a one week field course in the Lake District during the Easter vacation.

The balance starts to shift in the second year, as students develop their abilities as independent learners. Lectures still play an important role in supporting students in developing their knowledge and skills, with an average of 6 hours a week, and students participate in 6 two hour practical classes per week across the academic year that both introduce them to, and give them the chance to practice, Geological research methods. Students are required to attend 3 one-week field courses, to Assynt, Almeria and Arran.

This move towards greater emphasis on independent learning continues in the final year. Students are required to carry out a 6 week mapping dissertation during the summer. Students will be assigned a tutor appropriate to their dissertation. Support for the dissertation will take the form of one-to-one tutorial sessions. This provides students with the opportunity to engage with academic issues at the forefront of geological research, in a learning environment that is very much focused on discussion and debate of these issues. This places a premium on preparing effectively for classes. This emphasis on using the independent study and research skills developed in earlier years is continued through the dissertation that all final year students undertake and which is the cap stone of their undergraduate degree. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom they will typically have three or four one-to-one supervisory meetings, students undertake a detailed study of a particular area resulting in a significant piece of independent research. At Level 3 students are required to attend a one-week field trip to Cyprus, and there is the optional module which requires students to attend a field trip to Tenerife.

Throughout the programme, all students also have access to an academic tutor who will provide them with academic support and guidance. Typically a student will meet with their tutor 6 times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have an open door policy and are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend, and there is a seminar programme run throughout the year by the student-led Arthur Holmes Society.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • Two science subjects at A-level or equivalent are required for all courses
  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
  • Typical IB score 36 to include 665 in higher level subjects.  
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Centre offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • Please consult the University website for required evidence of English language proficiency
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A-levels

Applicants taking Science A-levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A-levels with an English examination board.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,250.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £23,100.00 per year

Please be advised that there is an additional fee of £110 to cover first year fieldwork. Fieldwork costs for subsequent years are dependent on modules chosen.

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Earth Sciences


Earth Sciences is a multidisciplinary subject, which examines our planet from the surface to the core. Earth Sciences draws upon elements of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and physical geography. You will study the past in order to understand the present and possibly to predict aspects of the future.

You will look at climate change, the formation of the oceans, the death of the dinosaurs, the nature of rocks and minerals, the structure and chemistry of the Earth, and Earth surface processes. Indeed, the subject embraces the entire planet from the surface to the core. Earth Sciences also contributes to our understanding of other planets and moons in our solar system.

The Department is very proud of its high-quality teaching underpinned by internationally recognised research. We are based in a purpose-built, modern building with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research. We pride ourselves on producing graduates who are eminently employable in a wide range of careers in the public and private sectors.

  • 97% of our Earth Sciences students were satisfied with their course overall in the National Student Survey 2016 (sector-wide average 89%).
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2016.
  • 6th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016.


For a current list of staff, please see the Earth Sciences Department web pages.


The Department has premises on the Mountjoy Site very close to the University’s IT facilities and Bill Bryson Library. We have excellent equipment including: extensive computing facilities (including multimedia PCs and UNIX workstations); microscopes; TV/microscope projection facilities; four lecture/practical laboratories with comprehensive A/V facilities; extensive state-of-the-art geochemical research laboratories; a micropaleontology laboratory; a geophysics seismic research facility; extensive rock sample and thin section teaching and research collections. Our Department is designated as a mainstream centre for teaching and research covering the broad spectrum of Earth Sciences. We are a friendly, social and informal community of about 80 staff and 300 students, more than 70 of whom are working for MSc and PhD degrees. In the recent HEFCE teaching quality review, the Department was graded Excellent.


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