Undergraduate Handbook

Points of Contact

Information for New Students

There are over forty members of staff, of whom about half are directly involved in undergraduate teaching. Contact emails, room numbers and internal telephone numbers are on in ES People. The non-teaching roles and functions are as follows:

The Head of Department is Prof. Lars Stixrude, who has ultimate responsibility for all aspects of the Department and its management. Leisa Clemente is his PA, and if the need arises, an appointment can be made through her.

3.1: Who's who on the Staff

Each student will be allocated a Personal Tutor, with whom they will normally remain until the end of their third year. You will meet your Personal Tutor formally early in the session, and a further four times at least during the first year (three times in higher years); you will be informed how to contact him/her at other times 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. S/he 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. 

You may alternatively wish to discuss such difficulties directly with the Undergraduate Tutor. You may also wish to discuss key skills development with your personal tutor, and record this through Portico.

Important Earth Sciences Names & Details

The Undergraduate Tutor is Dr. Willy Burgess who has overall academic and pastoral responsibility for Earth Sciences undergraduates. 

Susie Rizvi is the Academic Administrator and Examinations Liaison Officer.

The Departmental Office is on the Second Floor of the Pearson Building, Room 229. Celine Ahmed (Departmental Financial Administrator), and Jen Amery (Finance and Administrative Assistant) look after the day-to-day running of the Department. They are also responsible for supplying essential field equipment such as hard hats, compassclinometers and field notebooks, which are necessary for fieldwork. Danuta Kaminski (IT Manager) is responsible for computing matters within the Department.

The International Programme Year Abroad Co-ordinator and Tutor is Prof Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni. The Affiliate Student Tutor is Danuta Kaminski, who is responsible for the progress and welfare of affiliate students within the department.

The Director of Studies and Programme Stream Representatives are Prof Paul Bown (Geology), Prof Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni (Geophysics), Dr Wendy Kirk (Environmental Geoscience and Earth Sciences), Prof Graham Shields (Geochemistry) Dr Anjali Goswami (Palaeobiology).

The Fieldwork Co-ordinator is Dr Tom Mitchell.

The Departmental Careers Co-ordinator are Susie Rizvi and Prof Kevin Pickering. See also Moodle. Within UCL Careers Service, Andrew Walsh has responsibility for careers provision in Earth Sciences. 

The Departmental Equal Opportunities Liaison Officer is Prof. Lidunka Vocadlo ( l.vocadlo@ucl.ac.uk), whose function is the promotion of equal opportunities for women, ethnic minorities and those with socio-economic 10 disadvantages. If you feel that you have been discriminated against on racial or sexual grounds or have been harassed in any way, you should inform Prof. Vocadlo or your personal tutor or the Undergraduate Tutor directly. Immediate confidential help in dealing with the problem is assured.

No teaching or research would be possible without the support staff. They are involved in running and maintaining the laboratory facilities, and support both research activities and the practical teaching in the Department. The Head of Laboratories is Mr. John Bowles.

Additional support for students who have problems with maths (especially courses in the Mathematics and Physics Departments) and chemistry (especially Geochemistry) is provided by graduate research students. Names and contact details will be provided. 

3.2: Transitions Programme

All new students, no matter where they are from, will face challenges in adjusting to the new environment of a university. The Transitions Programme has been created to give you the best possible chance of academic success by helping you settle in quickly and giving you an early insight into how things work at UCL.

By attending the programme, you can: 
  • meet other first year students
  • establish links with student mentors in higher years
  • find out what is expected of you and what you can expect from us
  • develop the skills necessary for successful, university-level study

Student mentoring groups are run by trianed second and third year students. These meetings may relate to academic or general administrative topics, as well as being a chance for more informal, social contact with other first years students. Peer assisted learning sessions may be offered by the mentors; please contact your mentor if you are interested in attending such a session.

3.3: Student Feedback; Opportunities for representation

Staff and teaching assistants will give you feedback throughout your degree programme in order to help understand difficult aspects of the work and to help you improve your work, both as part of the learning process during lectures and practicals, and in returns of assessed work

In Earth Sciences, each module organiser uploads a feedback template onto the Feedback Section in the Moodle pages for their individual modules. The template gives the student the details of the nature and timing of the feedback they can expect. Students should check the Moodle pages for their modules in order to see further details on coursework feedback. 

Feedback can take a variety of forms, for example: 
  • orally, in response to questions in the classroom
  • in the form of detailed written comments on individual pieces coursework 
  • as a letter grade only on summative assessed work (work designed to test your knowledge and understanding rather than as part of the learning process) 
  • as general feedback on Moodle or in the classroom

It is our responsibility to ensure that you receive timely and informative feedback on your questions during scheduled teaching periods, and when returning your submitted work. It is your responsibility to study and act on the feedback provided, so that you can improve and develop your work where appropriate. If you have any queries about your feedback, please ask the member of staff or teaching assistant concerned.

For further information on Coursework and Deadlines, including Return of Coursework, see section 5.7: 

Student questionnaire:

At the end of each term, you will be provided with a questionnaire asking your views on each module, particularly regarding its structure and delivery. It is important that you answer them: the data are analysed in confidence, and the results of any comments are fed back to the lecturers as appropriate, entirely anonymously. 

Staff-Student Consultative Committee:

The Staff-Student Consultative Committee (SSCC) meets two or three times a year. Elected representatives can raise any issues of concern. Please note that problems with a particular module should be discussed with the Module Organiser (and, if necessary, the Undergraduate Tutor) before being raised at the SSCC

Representation on College Committees:

Students are also represented on UCL Standing Committees and Sub-Committees. For further information.

Student Academic Representatives:

Students can become certificated Students Academic Representatives (StArs). For further information on the scheme see 

3.4: Students from other departments

Students from abroad may come to UCL for a term or a year, under the Erasmus Programme, Junior Year Abroad Schemes or as an exchange student under the Study Abroad Scheme. You may also be joined in your classes by students on the Natural Sciences degree programme at UCL if they are taking an Earth Sciences stream, or a student from another department taking an option in Earth Sciences. Please welcome them and help them feel at home. Please ensure that your name is on any submitted work, and identify your department and degree programme so that return of your work is not delayed.

3.5: Advice elsewhere in College

General information on support is given at Information for Current Students.

Health matters

A Practice providing a full range of NHS services is based in the UCL Health Centre building at 3 Gower Place. Reception is on the 2nd floor. The practice is open from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Telephone 020 7387 6306 (or Emergency out-of-hours 020 7388 5800). See Gower Place Practice for further information.

Dental treatment, under the NHS, is available at the Dental Centre on the fifth floor of the UCL Health Centre building at 3 Gower Place. The Centre is open from 9am to 5pm.12Monday to Friday, including UCL holidays. Appointments can be made by telephone (020 7679 7186). 

The Student Counselling Service is located at 3 and 4 Taviton Street. You are encouraged to arrange appointments in person (first floor, room 101). Contact details are given at student-psychological-services. The Service can be contacted using the on-line form, or you can request a form by email or by telephone on 020 7679 1487. You may discuss any problems individually with a counselor. As well as academic issues, these can include emotional, personal, social, sexual or family matters. Meetings last for up to an hour and are confidential. 


Dr. Ruth Siddall is the Dean of Students (4 Taviton Street, Ground Floor) and she can be consulted by appointment during mornings only. Her Secretary can be contacted on 020 7679 4545, or she may be contacted on email at Dean.of.Students@ucl.ac.uk. The Dean is available to help with all aspects of welfare in the College and can help even in difficult cases concerning student financial worries. 

Dr. Hilary Richards is the Adviser to Women Students. She is available for individual consultations with women students who are experiencing personal, financial, emotional or academic difficulties, which they prefer not to discuss with their personal tutor. She can be contacted on 020 7679 0882/0884, or by email to h.richards@ucl.ac.uk.

Faculty Tutor

Dr. Caroline Essex is the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Faculty Tutor. She can be contacted by telephone 020 7679 7235/7767 or by email to c.essex@ucl.ac.uk. She may be consulted, by appointment, in the Faculty Office, situated on the 1st Floor of the South Wing, opposite the Rock Room.

Financial matters

The Current Student Money site  provides useful information on loans, bursaries, scholarships and other matters.

For example, there is information about the Access to Learning Fund (ALF), which provides discretionary financial assistance for students to help them access and remain in higher education, particularly those students who need financial help to meet extra costs that cannot be met from other sources of funding. The Fund can help alleviate unexpected financial hardship and students who may be considering leaving higher education because of financial problems are particularly encouraged to apply for assistance. The College operates an open-ended scheme whereby applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Applications must be submitted, together with supporting documentary evidence, directly to the Student Financial Support Section, Room G19 in the Registry. Application forms and Guidance notes are available from the Financial Support Office, G19 Registry. 

There is also information on Emergency Loans, Student Hardship Funds, Grant Cheque Collection, and a host of other useful advice.