Undergraduate Handbook

Points of Contact

Teaching & Learning

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to follow either a four-year MSci degree programme or the three-year BSc programme for all our degrees except the International Programme (Earth Sciences), available only as an MSci.

5.1 Programme structure: duration, credits, qualification(s)

All our undergraduate degree programmes contain some common courses providing essential knowledge of the Earth Sciences. The programmes in Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Geosciences allow you to follow specific interests, whereas the broader Earth Sciences programme allows students to select one of three pathways: a General pathway which allows greatest flexibility to select module options; a Palaeobiology pathway which incorporates modules from the Life Sciences; and the new Environment and Policy pathway. All degree programmes are available through the Earth Sciences International Programme, during which Year 3 is taken at a partner university abroad.

All programmes are available as either a three year BSc or a four year MSci, except for the International Programme, which is only available as an MSci. This is because students go abroad for their third year and must return to UCL to complete the fourth year with their peers.


UCL Regulations state that students must take 4 course units (also known as credits) per year. Typically this comprises 8 modules each valued at a half course unit. The BSc programmes thus comprise 12 credits, and the MSc programmes comprise 16 credits.

5.2 Choosing module options and electives

Modules are the individual units of study which lead to the award of credits. The modules available for each degree programme are given on the Earth Sciences website. Each degree programme has compulsory (core) modules and a variety of options. Some new students will find they do not need to make selections all their modules are compulsory. If students need to choose optional modules, the department will advise them of how and when to do this.

Unlike students in higher years, Earth Sciences Year 1 students will be given a paper copy of their compulsory and optional modules (where available) during Induction Week, and will submit these to the Departmental Tutor after discussion with their Personal Tutor.

The deadline for term 2 module choices is Wednesday 6th December 2017.

Affiliate students will be advised of the process for selecting modules by their home department. Modules may need to be selected before enrolment, or after the student has arrived at UCL.

Further information:

Contact details for staff who can give advice

Students can seek advice on module choices from academic staff, in particular from their Personal Tutor, the Departmental Tutor or the relevant degree Director of Studies. The Academic Administrator can help with queries concerning registration on PORTICO.

Deadlines for choosing modules, and how a student will know if they have secured a place

Students are expected to register for all modules on PORTICO at the earliest opportunity in order that they do not miss lectures and practical classes. First year students will make their selection on paper during Induction Week, and Module Registration on PORTICO will be undertaken by the Academic Administrator on their behalf. Please note that anyone wishing to change their module options for term 1 within the first two weeks of teaching, must seek approval from the Undergraduate Tutor and from the teaching department who ‘owns’ the new module they wish to take .

Module selections cannot be submitted by the student until all modules have been chosen. Selections need to be approved on-line first by the teaching department, and then by the parent department (i.e. Earth Sciences). Students will be able to see on PORTICO whether their module options have been accepted or rejected.

The above information should also cater to Affiliate students

Affiliate students should be able to register for the Affiliate version of their modules on PORTICO, but should contact the Affiliate Student Tutor for advice, including the correct module codes.

Advice on choosing module options and electives

Academic Administrator can help with queries concerning registration on PORTICO.

5.3 Modern Foreign Language requirement (Centrally Provided)

UCL is committed to Modern Foreign Language education and requires all UK Honours Degree students to enter UCL with, or have developed by graduation, a basic level of language competence.  Students should speak to their personal tutor or programme leader in the first instance if they have any questions about the requirement.

Further information:

Students who fail to satisfy the requirement by the end of their programme will not be eligible for the award of an Honours Degree.

5.4 Tutorials and supervision

Academic and Personal Tutoring

UCL is committed to providing all students with the academic guidance and personal support that they need to flourish as members of our active learning and research community. As part of the wider support infrastructure provided by a programme, every undergraduate or taught postgraduate student will be assigned a member of staff who can provide constructive academic and personal development guidance and support. At the start of the year, students will be provided with the name and identity of their personal tutor, the date of their first meeting, and where and when the personal tutor can be found in term time. Students are encouraged to be proactive in engaging with their Personal Tutor, as it is the responsibility of the student to keep in touch.

Further information:

Departmental pastoral tutoring

You will meet your Earth Sciences Personal Tutor in induction week, or if not, early in the first term, and you will normally remain with him/her until the end of your third year. At your first meeting you will be informed how to contact him/her should the need arise. You have a responsibility to ensure that you respond to any communications from your tutor promptly, and to attend appointments. The Department will keep a record of the meeting. Your Personal Tutor should be the first person you turn to with any problems of a personal, pastoral or financial nature, and these consultations will remain confidential unless you agree otherwise.

Fourth year students all have the same personal tutor, currently the module organiser for the MSci projects.

Students may also contact the Undergraduate Tutor for pastoral issues. It is best to make an appointment first, although it is not always necessary. The Undergraduate Tutor or your personal tutor may refer you to other services where necessary.

How dissertation supervision operates and the expectations of both the supervisor and student

MSci students will take a 1.5 course unit MSci Independent Project (GEOLM905) in their fourth year. The module organiser is Prof. David Dobson. The project will relate to their specific degree programme, and will normally include a literature review, an element of data acquisition or analysis (laboratory or field- based) and a proposal for future research. Students are offered a choice of topics and supervisors during their third year, or may select their own if suitable, after discussion with a potential departmental supervisor. The research project proposal form should be submitted later in year 3, at a date to be provided by the department. A formal proposal document of ~1000 words is submitted early in the second term and comprises 5% of the marks for the course.

The project represents at least 450 hours of independent work, and the final 10 000 word report is submitted around the start of May (exact date to be provided by the Department). The project is currently (2016-17) counts for 85% of the mark, the final 10% being a poster presentation is made towards the end of the third term.

You and your supervisor are expected to meet regularly throughout the year, but especially early on in the project. The supervisor will normally provide detailed comments on ONE draft of the project report. The module organiser will meet with every student at the start of the second term to review progress. If you are uncertain about the progress of your research project at any point during the year, you should ensure that you contact either your supervisor or

Transition Mentors

The UCL Transition Programme supports new first-year students at UCL, helping them to settle in quickly and achieve their potential. Each first-year student is assigned a Transition Mentor for their first term. Transition mentors are later-year students within each department who work with small groups of students on a weekly basis to help them settle in to UCL and London as well as focussing on academic issues and topics specific to their degree programme. First-year students meet their Transition Mentor during the first week of term at their department’s ‘Meet your Mentor’ session.

Further information:

Students are encouraged to be proactive in engaging with their Personal Tutor, as it is the responsibility of the student to keep in touch.

5.5 Study abroad

Information on study abroad options

Students should contact the Study Abroad Tutor if they are on the Earth Sciences International Programme, or if they wish to transfer to that Programme during the first year. General information can be found on the study abroad website. In particular, use the Options Guide to see where you might be able to go as an Earth Sciences student, depending on which pathway you wish to follow (Geology, Environmental Geoscience etc.)

Information about regulations concerning the year abroad.

In order to be permitted to go on this challenging programme, Earth Sciences students are required to achieve over 65% overall by the end of their first two years. Students are strongly advised to achieve first class marks of 70% or over at the end of their first year.

Information about regulations concerning the year abroad

Please refer to the UCL Academic Manual, Chapter 4, Section 4 Progression and Award Requirements and Section 9 Classification.


Applications are made during the first term of the second year, so it is advisable to have thoroughly researched the options prior to Reading Week of the first term of second year.

5.6 Professional accreditation

Details of any professional accreditation and associated requirements integrated into the programme and requirements for students

The BSc and MSci degree programmes in Geology, Environmental Geoscience, Geophysics, and the International Programme equivalents, are accredited by the Geological Society of London – see http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/accreditation.

5.7 Employability and Careers

Opportunities available, where and how to get advice, career planning tips

General information is given on the Moodle page called Earth Sciences Careers and Resources. Within UCL Careers Service, Raj Sidhu has responsibility for careers provision in Earth Sciences.

The Earth Sciences Alumni Careers Event takes place yearly, usually in February. The event is always well received and attended. The participants have the opportunity to hear from a panel of our alumni, ask questions and network with them.

Information on UCL Careers

UCL Careers

UCL Careers provides a wide variety of careers information, one-to-one guidance and events for UCL students and recent graduates, and assists them through the entire job hunting process, including exploring options, searching for vacancies, preparing CVs and applications, practicing for interviews, aptitude tests or assessment centres, and providing access to recruitment fairs and other employment-related events. They can also advise on exploring options for further study and funding. These specialised services and events are available to graduates, international students and Master’s students for up to two years following course completion.

UCL Careers also supports work-related learning, including internships and placements. UCL students who are required to complete a placement or internship as part of certain courses are supported in their search, application, and work by UCL Careers. Students can also sign up for UCL Talent Bank, a shortlisting service connecting students to small and medium sized organisations.

Further information:
Who to Contact

The Departmental Careers Co-ordinators are Susie Rizvi and Prof Kevin Pickering.