Gain the knowledge you need to understand the materials, features and processes that shape the Earth’s surface. With this BSc in Geology you will learn there is more to geology than studying rocks.
3 years full-time
Understanding the processes involved in shaping the Earth’s surface through the study of minerals and rocks can inform us about the impact of past and present changes in environmental conditions. This knowledge will allow us to develop solutions to protect society and the planet from today’s challenges, from climate change and natural disasters to resource shortages and sustainability.
Our flexible degree puts you in control, giving you both the fundamentals and increased specialisation as you progress through the degree, allowing you to choose a pathway of most interest to you. The BSc Geology is accredited by the Geological Society of London.
Combining academic excellence and cutting-edge research, the course will equip you with the tools needed for employment in a range of sectors, including mineral exploration and petroleum geology, engineering geology, environmental and hydrogeology consultancies, GIS, geological surveys, or for further study or research. Numeracy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills developed on the course are highly valued in a wide range of non-geology careers, including teaching, business management, insurance and accounting, banking and finance.
In the first year, you will develop a fundamental understanding of Earth Sciences and build on the practical skills required to study rocks and fossils in the field, including a field trip to the Lake District. Year 2 specialises more in geological aspects, during which you will develop your knowledge of core geological disciplines associated with igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary and tectonic processes and includes three one-week field courses, to Assynt, Almeria and Arran. In Year 3, you will undertake a research geological mapping dissertation and develop advanced knowledge in specialist geological topics of your choice with multiple residential field work opportunities, including one week in Cyprus.
You may be able to transfer to the four-year MSci degree in Earth Sciences at the end of your second year.
Earth Materials introduces you to Earth minerals and rocks and teaches you techniques for identifying them.
Field Studies identifies techniques for description and interpretation of natural geological features. This module also covers mapping skills, and the observation, recording and processing techniques needed for fieldwork and imagery.
Understanding Earth Sciences covers an introduction to the areas of petrology, sedimentology, structural geology and palaeontology and relates the processes to the plate tectonic cycle.
Environment and Resources covers the key concepts in environmental chemistry and the processes involved in shaping the Earth. From fossil fuels and ores to the water cycle, it introduces you to the formation, distribution and extraction of the Earth's resources and energy.
Geoinformatics introduces the fundamentals of Earth observation and remote sensing. You will learn how to apply geospatial and digital cartography skills to plot and interpret you own results
Structural Geology and Tectonics describes and analyses deformation structures, processes and systems in the Earth, providing you with an understanding of the relationship between tectonics and surface processes.
Sedimentary Environments covers the processes involved in the formation of sedimentary rocks and application of the techniques used to analyse these processes and a variety of environments.
Field work (Environmental) introduces the principles of laboratory and field investigations to prepare you for further research in your final-year dissertation.
Igneous and Metamorphic Geochemistry and Petrology explores geochemical and petrological methods to understand how igneous and metamorphic rocks form. You will also learn about identifying and interpreting the geological significance of a range of these rocks in the context of geological evolution.
Worth one-third of your final year credits, you will produce an independent research Dissertation based on a geological mapping exercise chosen to suit your interests.
You may be able to study abroad for a year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.
The course is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, tutorials and fieldwork. The balance of these activities changes over the degree, as you develop your knowledge and your ability as an independent learner in preparation for professional life or postgraduate study.
In Year 1, lectures and practicals dominate the timetable. You are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge.
The balance starts to shift in the second year, with a move towards self-directed learning and an opportunity to practice research methods during field courses.
In the final year, you will carry out a six-week mapping dissertation, producing a significant piece of independent research.
You will be assessed through a combination of coursework, class tests and end-of-year examinations. One-third of your final-year marks will be through your geological mapping dissertation in the final year.
A level offer – AAB including two sciences from Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Environmental Science, Economics, and Biology or Psychology.
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD plus two science A levels from list above.
IB Diploma score – 36 with 665 in higher level subjects, including two science subjects from list above.
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
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.
International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.
The tuition fees for 2024/25 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.
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.
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
Our flexible courses have been developed to meet the needs of industry and provide you with the skills you need to succeed. You will graduate with the scientific foundations and transferable skills to move directly into the workplace or to progress to a more specialised postgraduate qualification.
Career prospects for Durham graduates are excellent. Geology and Earth Sciences graduates are highly valued by employers and go on to a wide range of highly successful careers in the sector and beyond, working in industry and research, including environmental management, water management, energy and engineering geology. Some of the high-profile employers our graduates have gone on to work for include ATKINS, ARUP, BP, Centrica and the Environment Agency.
(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)
Earth Sciences is the holistic study of the planet from the core to the surface, its water and the surrounding atmosphere.
Durham is one of the UK’s leading providers of Earth Sciences education. We offer six undergraduate courses, four of which are accredited by The Geological Society of London. Our courses explore the full geological spectrum including climate change, oceans, mass extinctions, rocks and minerals, and the structure and chemistry of the Earth. Our multidisciplinary approach applies physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physical geography to real world scenarios to make sense of today's major geoscience concerns .
Course structures are e flexible with a balance of formal teaching, fieldwork and active learning to put your theoretical knowledge into practice. You can tailor your degree to your interests through the wide range of optional modules and you may also be able to spend a year studying abroad, extending your degree by a year. All our degree courses are informed by the latest pure and applied research, and you can be sure your education will be in sync with the latest thinking in the discipline and will help you on your journey to a profession in the Earth Sciences sector and beyond.
For more information see our department pages.
We are on the main science campus, and our teaching taks place in the modern, purpose-built Arthur Holmes Building equipped with brand new optical microscopes and a large teaching collection of rocks, fossils, geological maps, and thin sections.
We use industry-standard and research-level software (e.g., ESRI ArcGIS Pro and Matlab), and if your dissertation or research project involves laboratory study, you can access our world-class geochemistry and rock mechanics labs.
Throughout your course you will have the opportunity to develop observation and analytical skills on residential field trips to study mountains, deserts, caves, volcanoes, rift valleys, faults and fossils.
The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!