F644 Earth Sciences MSci Undergraduate 2021
Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.
For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see www.durham.ac.uk/coronavirus
|Mode of study||Full Time|
|Typical Offers||A Level|
|Please also check Requirements and Admissions.|
|Contextual Offers||You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.|
|More information||Still have questions?|
Earth Sciences is a four-year Masters degree course that has been designed to provide a comprehensive and rigorous education in all aspects of Earth Sciences with the opportunity to interact with staff at the cutting-edge of scientific research. It provides you with the opportunity to follow the Geology or Environmental Geosciences or Geophysics with Geology or Geoscience for the first three years and undertake a detailed independent research project in the area of your choice in the fourth year.
The MSci Earth Sciences course incorporates a substantial amount of independent (and group) project work which will involve you in high-level quantitative investigations, in addition to advanced key skills training.
If you have been accepted on the BSc degree course you can choose to transfer to the four-year MSci degree in Earth Sciences at the end of your second year. This will depend on your progress in the first two years.
It is suitable if you have a strong interest in research in the Earth Sciences, graduates from this course have secured PhD research positions at prestigious universities worldwide.
Years 1 to 3
Compulsory and optional modules
- Research Project.
- Communicating Science
- Earth Science Field Seminar
- Earth Sciences into Industry
- Geological Evolution and Petroleum Systems of the British Isles IV
- Environmental Geochemistry IV
- Deformation Processes in the Lithosphere IV
- Advanced Geophysics IV
- Earth System and Climate IV
- Earth Structure and Dynamics.
We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2021 entry from September 2020.
You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.
Course Learning and Teaching
The course 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 allows you to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in Geology while tutorials address specific transferable skills and allows you to raise particular problems.
The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the degree, as you develop your knowledge and your ability as an independent learner. This is one of the key attributes that you will develop (thereby preparing you for work or further study once you have completed the course). In the first year you typically attend six hours a week of lectures, and 12 hours of practical classes. You are also required to attend six tutorial sessions during the academic year. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge. You 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 you develop your abilities as an independent learner. Lectures still play an important role in supporting you in developing your knowledge and skills, with an average of six hours a week, and you will participate in six two-hour practical classes per week across the academic year that both introduce you to, and give you the chance to practice geological research methods. You are expected to attend field courses with the location being dependent upon exact module choices.
This move towards greater emphasis on independent learning continues in the third year. You are required to carry out a dissertation which may involve field or laboratory work during the summer vacation depending upon your exact choices and preferences. You will be assigned a tutor appropriate for your dissertation. Support for the dissertation will take the form of one-to-one tutorial sessions. This provides you 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 you will undertake. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff who you will typically have three or four one-to-one supervisory meetings, you will take a detailed study of a particular area resulting in a significant piece of independent research. At Level 3 you are required to attend a one-week field trip to Cyprus, and there is the optional module which requires you to attend a field trip to Tenerife.
In the final year you will undertake another research-based dissertation that may involve field or laboratory work during the summer vacation depending upon your exact choices and preferences. The dissertation is conducted in collaboration with your academic tutor, the tutor being assigned dependent upon the nature of the research choice. Modules available in your final year mean that you will be expected to deliver seminars to your peers and to academic staff. You will also take part in a project developed in conjunction with an academic tutor and an industrial sponsor.
Throughout the course, you will have access to an academic tutor who will provide you with academic support and guidance. Typically you will meet with your tutor six times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have an open door policy and are available to meet with 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.
Subject requirements, level and grade
A level offer – AAA including two sciences from Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Economics, and Biology or Psychology. For the Geophysics route, Mathematics or Further Mathematics is required.
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD plus grades AA at A level in two sciences from the list above.
IB Diploma score – 37 with 666 in higher level subjects, including two science subjects from the list above.
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.
- If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
- 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||£27,350.00 per year|
|Home Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Island Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£27,350.00 per year|
Please be advised that there is an additional fee of £130 to cover first-year fieldwork. Fieldwork costs for subsequent years are dependent on degree route and modules chosen.
The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.
The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Open days and visits
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Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place: www.durham.ac.uk/opendays
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Overseas Visit Schedule
Earth Science draws upon elements of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physical geography. You will study the present state of the Earth to develop an understanding of the geological past. You will look at climate change, the formation of the oceans, mass extinctions, the nature of rocks and minerals, and the structure and chemistry of the Earth. Earth Science embraces the entire planet from the surface to the core and also contributes to our understanding of other planets in our solar system and beyond.
The Department is very proud of its high-quality teaching, underpinned by internationally renowned research. We are based in a purpose-built, modern building with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research. We welcome hard-working, motivated applicants and take pride in our graduates, who go on to a wide range of highly successful careers in the Earth Sciences, both in industry and research.
- World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020.
- 4th in The Complete University Guide 2020.
- 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.
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.