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Guide to studying Geology

If you’re keen to discover more about the dynamics of the Earth, its resources and economics, then Geology could be the subject for you.

Geologist Checking the Soil


  1. What's Geology?

  2. Why study Geology?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Geology graduate?

  4. What qualifications do you need?

  5. What degrees can you study?

  6. How will you be assessed?

  7. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Geology?

Geology is a branch of scientific study focusing on the composition of solid earth and how its make-up changes over time.

It gives insight into the history of the Earth, through studying plate tectonics and past climates. Geology also involves the investigation of how minerals can be discovered and utilised.

Why study Geology?

Geology combines the best of natural History and Geography. During your degree course, you'll explore the origins of our modern landscape, as well as the ways we discover, use and manage natural resources.

Geology is not a narrow subject; there is lots to learn. Geologists study a broad range of topics including plate tectonics, glaciers, floods, groundwater flow – even dinosaur evolution.

Some of the biggest problems facing the world today can be solved by geologists. They are in constant demand for advice and study of natural hazards, dwindling resources and climate change.

If you enjoy working outdoors you'll find this field of earth sciences a rewarding area of study. Field trips are commonplace, as is the option to spend a year abroad as part of the course.

The course is very diverse, covering lots of topics and doing so using a range of learning methods. I found that learning through lectures, practical classes and hands on work (e.g. fieldwork, essays, practical sessions) made even the more difficult subjects easier to understand.
Rachel, Univerity of Aberdeen

Geologists collecting soil samples

What jobs can you get as a Geology graduate?

Geology degrees teach valuable transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as a range of geographical and scientific skills applicable to specialist jobs.

Particular job areas include in engineering, geochemistry and geophysics, hydrology, mudlogging, drilling and mechanical engineering, consultancy and analysis, data processing and surveying.

Numerous companies, such as Amey, offer graduate schemes in this subject.

Professional job: Usually needs a degree
Non-professional job: Doesn't usually need a degree

What qualifications do you need? 

For a Geology course, you will usually need A Levels (or equivalent) in two of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Further Mathematics, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology.

Grades and other requirements are different at each institution. Always confirm with the particular university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BA Natural Sciences
  • BA Biology and Geology
  • BA Chemistry and Geology
  • BA Geography and Geology

How will you be assessed?

Geology involves a mix of practical and written work, in addition to a typical timetabled lecture programme of six to eight hours a week. Fieldwork, in the UK and abroad, is a crucial part of each year of many degree programmes. End of year exams and final year dissertations are common.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include a straight MA in Geology, as well as master's courses in Applied Environmental Geology, Marine Geoscience, Engineering Geology, Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, and Geoinformation Technology.

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