Skip to main content
Degree type

MSci

Course length

4 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

F644

Ready to Apply?

Please note: Courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 37

Course details

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

Core and optional modules:

  • You are required to choose modules from one of the routes Geology, Environmental Geosciences , Geophysics with Geology or Geoscience.

Year 4

Core module:

  • Research Project.

Examples of optional modules:

  • 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.

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

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.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAA 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 DiplomaDDD plus grades AA at A level in two sciences from the list above.

IB Diploma score37 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.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £28,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £28,500 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 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 and EU 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 Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Earth Sciences

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 78% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 86% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £27,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

Earth Sciences

Earth science is a quantitative, multidisciplinary subject, which examines our planet from the surface to the core. Earth science draws upon elements of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physical geography. 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.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.
  • 8th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

Staff

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

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked joint 7th in the UK for world-leading research impact (REF 2014).

Facilities

The Earth Sciences building is laid out across three floors, providing focused spaces for research, support, teaching and specialised equipment.  Academic staff, PDRAs, and PhD students are located on Level 3, providing a mutually supportive research environment. Research support and administrative staff are accommodated on Level 2, which includes four large teaching and seminar spaces, whilst technical staff are housed on Level 1 where the main research equipment facilities are located in purpose-built laboratories.

More information on our facilities and equipment.

Apply

Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:

Apply

F644

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Virtual Undergraduate Open Day
  • Date: 16/09/2021
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day
Discover Durham Tours
  • Date: 25/10/2021
  • Time: 13:30 - 16:00
Register for open day