UCL Earth Sciences



Rocks & minerals, sedimentology, stratigraphy, fossils, geophysical hazards, earthquakes, mapping, environmental change, tectonics, impact crater, geology

There is a strong emphasis on field training in all earth science degree programmes. The field provides a natural laboratory where students can learn. In our teaching, we utilize the software Move, a powerful stand-alone environment for data integration, cross-section construction and 3D model building.  We would like to acknowledge that the Petroleum Experts Ltd (Petex) has donated 10 licences of the MOVE software suite, the commercial equivalent of which is £1,872,218.26 to enable us to deliver our teaching. 

Fieldwork Overview

Fieldwork Overview

Many students find fieldwork one of the most enjoyable parts of their undergraduate career.

Fieldwork Schedule

Field Class Schedule

Intended to provide general instructions and guidance for students and leaders

Fieldwork Safety

These notes are intended to provide general instructions and guidance for students and leaders and to point out the major aspects of safety that must be considered. 


The below tabs contain all the information you need in order to prepare for any university fieldwork.

Key Contacts

Field Safety Officer: Prof Tom Mitchell 
Departmental Safety Officer: Mr John Bowles 

Pre-fieldwork to-do list

Before engaging on any departmental fieldwork, a risk assessment must be completed. All risk assessments must be completed online using the RiskNet tool. Before going on fieldwork (regardless of where it is, or how short), you MUST do the following steps:

  • Complete a risk assessment for your fieldwork using the online RiskNET service. Please note we no longer accept paper risk assessments. Use how to complete a risk assessment resources. You must list both your supervisor AND Tom Mitchell as an approver. No fieldwork can be undertaken until this is approved by the supervisor and Tom Mitchell.  
  • Ensure that you have fieldwork insurance. See the insurance tab below on how to do this.
Insurance through UCL

UCL has a very good insurance policy, which from our experience works very well when needed.  This experience ranges from covering several accidents/hospital visits in the USA during PhD student fieldwork (several thousands of pounds’ worth of hospital care fully covered) to completely lost luggage by airlines on UCL trips to conferences.  You must ensure that you register your UCL trips with TravelCert 
For any fieldwork (uindergraduate fieldtrips, postgraduate & staff fieldwork) all staff and staff are required to complete the online UCL insurance registration & activation form with TravelCert Mobile users can download an app. Logging and access details. This is done quite easily online here: https://travelcert.ajg.com/#/activation .  To start, enter “University College London” which will appear in the organisation pick list on both the webpages (and also the app), just start typing “university” or “London” and the name will become visible, the activation code: 318602] 

Driving on fieldwork

PhD students, postdocs and staff are all potentially eligible to drive cars and small minibuses on fieldtrips with students, providing the following steps below have been completed. Please note this can take a while to complete.

 All drivers must have completed the driver declaration form, which should be sent directly to Serena Ezra, the UCL insurance administrator, to approve you as a driver. You are only insured to drive if this has been approved. On this form you need to provide a DVLA check code, the modern equivalent of the accompanying paper licence. PhD students can also drive on behalf of UCL once they have completed a drivers declaration form and it has been approved. This process will enable individuals to be insured to drive on behalf of UCL in the UK, Europe and the USA/rest of world. For staff to drive their own private vehicles on field trips, including students as passengers, a driver declaration form must still be completed if you wish to be covered by UCL motor insurance policy. Further details.


  • All minibus drivers need to complete the Driving Screening assessment which is carried out by Occupational Health. Many of you will have done this in the past, but this needs to be current, so please do check when you last completed this. If you need to complete the Driving Screening assessment, please compete job_hazard_form.doc and send it to Leisa Clemente for submission on your behalf. Occupational health will then contact you to arrange an appointment.
  • Before any fieldtrip/UCL related excursion outside of the UK, please ensure that you have registered your trip with the UCL insurance via AIG, so that you are covered and have an insurance certificate generated for your trip so that you are covered and have an insurance certificate generated for your trip. Details in Insurance tab.

UCL allows staff to use their personal vehicles to take students on UCL business or field excursions only if they are covered by UCL’s motor insurance policy.  The driver must complete the driver declaration form [provide link]. The risk assessment for any fieldwork would also have to be completed, signed by the supervisor and sent to T. Mitchell for approval.

Rules/behaviour during field class

Safety is of paramount importance during any field class. In addition, such classes are run with the very valuable support and help of the local community in which they are held.  These requirements can only be met if you, the students, behave in a mature and sensible manner.  Please help us to maintaining UCL Earth Sciences’ good record of behaviour on undergraduate field classes.  The University requires us to remind you that any individual or group of individuals who behave in a way that either jeopardises safety or our relationship with the local community with be dealt with severely.  The future of the Department’s field training programme depends on your collective good conduct.  We want to retain a good relationship with the communities therefore we rely on you to scrupulously uphold all of the following rules:

  1. Please maintain the sleeping quarters and common space in a respectable and clean state throughout your stay.  All will be expected to contribute to cleaning and tidying. If the kitchen area is not maintained to a satisfactory standard of cleanliness the fieldtrip leaders will roster each room group on cleaning and tidying duties on a daily basis.
  2. Do not wear field boots at any time inside the living quarters. Take them off and put them on again at the door. Keep them in the drying room, along with wet outdoor gear.
  3. Be careful not to spill tea, coffee or beer on the carpets. Clean up anything that drops on the floor immediately. Keep the cooker and cooking utensils clean. 
  4. Avoid any behaviour that is likely to lead to breakages. Bear in mind that, whilst damage can and must be paid for, it is difficult to ameliorate the loss of good will between ourselves and the hostel staff  if wilful or negligent behaviour results in any damage.
  5. On arrival, each room group should inspect their accommodation and report anything amiss to the excursion leader.
  6. On departure remove all your belongings. Remove all rubbish and unwanted food and deposit these in the refuse bags/bins provided. Each time you use them, clean the cookers thoroughly: take out the drip trays, remove the ring guards and degrease everything.  Clean out all your food from the fridges on departure.
  7. Regretfully,  we will immediately send home anyone who causes damage or annoyance to members of the public arising from over-indulgence in alcohol, or other wilful or negligent action. There may be other people staying in the centre. Some may be doing thesis mapping, others may be there for pleasure. Respect their needs.

“Virtual deposit system”: There is no charge towards accommodation or breakfast on the field course. However, we will operate a “virtual deposit” system.  Students causing damage to the hostel or bringing the name of the University into disrepute will be fined a maximum of £100.  Complaints from local residents about student behaviour will also not be tolerated.  The deposit will be deducted from the contribution to independent fieldwork next year, or other subsequent fieldtrips you may be asked to contribute towards where it is normally free.  In extreme cases, if no one owns up to damage/misdemeanour then all virtual deposits will be forfeit.  

Code of Conduct
All students and staff at UCL have the right to participate in fieldwork free from bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct, of any form.  These behaviours are not permitted at the University, in the work and learning environment, and there is no place for them in the field. In order to move these statements beyond the aspirational it is necessary to frame a code of conduct that should be signed up to by those organising and running, and those participating in, fieldwork activities. 
Field safety code of practice

Read the UCL Fieldwork Approved Code of Practice. All reasonable safety precautions must be observed.  On arrival in the field area find out the phone number(s) of local emergency services and identify someone responsible who will be kept informed of your whereabouts each day and who will act if you fail to return after work.  Unless you are working alone, you can name a fellow student/colleague who is staying with you.  The following are a basic set of guidelines for ensuring your safety in the field:

Always ensure you are working with your mapping partner and you are both aware of where you will be working.  Make sure you both have agreed a daily plan of where you will be working, and if you are out of sight of each other you ensure that you have a plan to meet up. Enter a hazard assessment into your notebook for each day in the field at the start of each day.


See also the Geological Society Code for Geological Fieldwork and Fieldwork Resources. For additional information regarding Safety Training visit The British Mountaineering Council  and  St John's Ambulance.

  • Always take adequate clothing, food and water, waterproofs and your emergency kit into the field.
  • If you are working in coastal areas, check the times of high and low tides (local information centres will have accurate tide times).  This should have been included in your risk assessment.
  • Do not venture into places where you are unhappy about your safety.
  • If you need to enter private land, obtain the permission of the landowner before entry.
  • In case of accident, illness or other emergencies: attend to the problem immediately, but contact your supervisor and the Department as soon as possible.
  • If you are working outside the UK make sure you have appropriate insurance including an EHIC card in Europe.
  • Find out in advance the location and phone number of the nearest medical centre and write this in your notebook.
  • Include your name, local address (with dates) and home address in your notebook.


All Modules: a wide variety of modules in our degrees and stream choices.

Life at UCL: Find out more about term dates and the life on campus.

Fieldwork: Experience how we at Earth Sciences work in the field.

Teaching Timetable:  See what's being taught, when, where and by whom across UCL.

New Students:  what you will be expected to do during your first few weeks at UCL.

Information for Current Students: student handbook, academic regulations, policies and procedures. Intranet access

UCL IT Support: Central IT services for all UCL students and staff. 

Careers: what careers Earth Scientists have gone into and how we keep in touch with our Alumni. 

Greenough Society: the backbone for socialising for ES students including social events, lectures and geological field trips.


020 3108 6366 (56366)


020 3108 6366 (56366)


020 3108 6339 (56339)

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