UCL Earth Sciences



Integrating theoretical studies with essential practical skills in the Earth Sciences, both in the field and in the laboratory.

The programme aims to integrate theoretical studies with essential practical skills in the Earth Sciences, both in the field and in the laboratory. Students develop the ability to work on group projects, prepare written reports, acquire oral skills and gain training in the methods of scientific research. The MSc Geosciences provides the opportunity to acquire graduate-level study and research skills across a broad area of the Earth Sciences, providing a strong foundation for a research degree or employment in the geosciences sector.

Geoscience MSc


Geoscience MSc

Further Enquiries:

 Prof Dominic Papineau

How to apply

Programme Topics

The MSc provides a uniquely broad and flexible programme that suits student's aspirations, background and experience. The Department of Earth Sciences has strengths in Geophysics, Geochemistry, Palaeobiology, Mineral Physics, Geodynamics, Geohazards, Climate Science, Environmental Geosciences and Policy, and other areas. Students choose from a wide range of optional modules from within the host department and other UCL departments, building a MSc tailored to their interests.

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The department also hosts the UCL Hazard Research Centre, Europe's leading multidisciplinary hazard research centre, and engages in extensive collaborative work with the Royal Institution and the Natural History Museum and many other external research institutions.


Students may also take up to two modules (total 30 credits) outside the Earth Sciences Department. Please speak to Dr Dominic Papineau in the first instance.

Crustal Dynamics, Mountain Building and Basin Analysis is a fieldwork only module (to Spain) without a classroom element. The field trip to Germany is mandatory. Students are expected to pay for travel to and from the field area and any additional subsistence. Accommodation and subsistence is provided.


Module codeCreditsModule title
Compulsory modules
GEOL003815Research Proposal
GEOL003915Earth & Planetary Systems Science
GEOL004760MSc Geoscience Dissertation
GEOL006515Research Methods and Skills
Optional modules
GEOL002215Ocean Physics & Climate Change
GEOL002315Crustal Dynamics, Mountain Building and Basin Evolution
GEOL002615Earth and Planetary Materials
GEOL003115Environmental Geochemistry
GEOL003415Geology for Sustainable Resource Management and Energy Transition
GEOL003615Advanced Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Studies
GEOL004115Physical Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard
GEOL004315Tectonic Geomorphology
GEOL004515Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironmental Change
 GEOL005915Origin of Life & Exobiology 
GEOL006115Statistics for Geoscientists
GEOL006215Geological, Geotechnical & Hydro-meteorological Hazards  
GEOL0066 15Meteorological and Hydrogeological Hazards  
GEOL006715The Science Policy and Ethics of Climate Intervention
GEOL006915Artificial Intelligence for Earth Observations (AI4EO)
GEOL007015Volcanoes, Society and the Environment

Other modules are available from Geography, Science and Technology Studies and Civil Engineering and you must seek approval from the Programme Director in the first instance, otherwise you may end up being rejected from the module. There must be NO clashes in your timetable.


Emphasis will be on providing a set of courses that suit your aspirations, background and experience. The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and laboratory and fieldwork exercises. To ensure coherence to your studies, you can follow one of several ‘pathways’: Earth Systems Science; Palaeobiology; Earth and Planetary Physics; Environment; and Hydrogeology.

Research Project

We will help you design a research project that you will find exciting and appropriate to your interests. Enthusiastic support will be provided by a staff member with research interests in the area you choose. Our very favourable staff/student ratio ensures close supervision. A thesis would be submitted by the 1st September.

Dennis Curry Scholarship

The Dennis Curry Scholarship is open to applications from UK Nationals, who have applied to study MSc Geoscience, and who are not already receiving full financial support from any other awards. Eligible applicants for the Dennis Curry Scholarship should contact the MSc Geoscience director Dr Dominic Papineau email: d.papineau@ucl.ac.uk, including their UCL application number, academic CV (Curriculum Vitae), names and email addresses of two referees, and a letter not to exceed five hundred words which details their interest in Geosciences and especially micropalaeontology. Deadline for applications is 31 July each year. 


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Testimonials from former students

''I had the most fun studying Geosciences at the department of the Earth Sciences at UCL. A very well-organized course that helped me strengthen my skills in geophysical research. My whole perception of how scientific research is conducted has completely changed, as I had the opportunity to work with high quality equipment, in the laboratories, and amazing scientists. The environment was friendly - seemed more like a big family to me – and it was a joy to communicate with other members of the department and hear about their work. Studying as an MSc at UCL surely was the correct choice for me and I’m happy to continue my academic career there as a PhD.'' Evangelia Tripoliti, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017/2018.

“Well, the MSc experience was challenging yet exciting..., the fieldtrips for instance shine as jewels on the experience.. from learning to recognize sea level changes on the geo-records on the Betics mountains in Spain, to feel awe and see and touch the evidence of a massive meteorite impact in Germany..  Riess crater... realizing of the crater's magnitude, hills that were "pushed" over more competent strata... and so on.

I experienced a cheerful support of everyone... research staff, lecturers, administrative personnel, that helped me to develop my understanding on geochronology, tectonic geomorphology among others, as well with my well being while studying at UCL.

The research done on Geochronology on the Ecuadorian Andes with the support of UCL´s London Geochronology Centre, have contributed to tight some constraints on the Paleogene evolution of a key formation where we discovered it was much younger than normally accepted before, also we found some other useful cristallization and detritic ages in the Andes in different geological contexts.

In short I would say... studying the MSc Geoscience at UCL was a great great life and scientific experience that I remember with a great smile and excitement...” José Luis Herrera Robalino, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017/2018.

“While learning in UCL, I have gained a lot. Our curriculum is well organized so that we have enough time to review.

In the process of learning, professors are very patient to answer every question. Especially in the study of volcano module, Professor Kilburn has given us a lot of very useful literature, so that we can learn well even after class.

My dissertation program is about rock mechanics. Professor Meredith has given me great help and imparted a lot of useful knowledge into me, let me have a deeper research in this field. I appreciate that he and John carefully guided me in the experiment.

I am very happy to study geoscience in UCL!” Yixi Lin, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017/2018.

“As a physical geographer keen on understanding and reconstructing palaeoenvironment, the MSc Geoscience program has granted me vital knowledge in palaeoclimatology and palaeoceanography. Opportunities in handling microfossils specimens, as well as field trips in the UK, Spain and Germany, have given me solid foundation and skills for academic research. I highly recommend students who would like to develop their academic interest in geoscience to apply for this program” Kwok Yin Yu, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017/2018.

"The MSc Geoscience at UCL was a truly rewarding experience. The program was dynamic and engaging, allowing students to explore diverse topics within the Earth Sciences and form meaningful relationships with lecturers, professors and fellow research students. Through the program, I was able to engage in a wide range of research labs and disciplines within the Department, participate in geology fieldtrips to Germany and the Betics in Spain, and concurrently develop a deep passion for Palaeoceanography under the guidance of my supervisor. The course has given me a strong foundation in the Earth and climate sciences, which has prepared me for my career in the environmental sustainability sector." Natalie Cheng, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2016-2018.

“Studying MSc Geosciences at UCL was a profound experience, not limited to career prospects but includes social and life experiences. It was possible to blend with an international community, over 14 nationalities teaching and studying Geosciences at UCL, all with different backgrounds and varying motives. This has allowed for a great networking experience and an opportunity to learn more about different cultures and make new friends from the Geoscience community.

The degree has allowed students to explore their competencies and improve their weaknesses, particularly in time management and quality commitment. There was an opportunity to evaluate published work and given data, including seminars held each week, an opportunity to integrate a wide spectrum of knowledge, to answer the tasks at hand. Joint with fun exercises, the program aimed for continuous learning experience, combining fieldwork and museum visits, use programming techniques to reproduce published graphs and try to improve them.

However, the most important lesson learned was dissertation planning. Many mistakes were made during the thesis that required post-thesis reflections. These reflections enhanced thinking abilities, particularly new approaches to scientific questions, which now can be used before initiating any new project. In your career, time is valuable and pre-planning will give you chances to review and improve the quality of your product as you try to answer the question at hand.” Thamer Alnasser, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017/2018.

“I have completed MSc Geoscience degree in September 2018 and immediately started my PhD in geology here at UCL. The fact that I have enjoyed this master’s course contributed to the decision to continue with further research, and it also inspired and helped me to gain a confidence in my abilities. Range of offered courses and an opportunity for an independent research allowed me to pick the topics which most suited my interests and thanks to the two-year part-time programme I could spread the work load and get deeper understanding of my research project while also having a part-time job. Additionally, apart from the world-class research done in the department, the friendly and welcoming atmosphere has made my time here especially enjoyable”. Lucia Andreuttiova, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2016-2018.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Geoscience MSc at UCL. I chose the programme specifically as it offered the greatest variety of potential modules and allowed me to continue studying what I had previously enjoyed, whilst also learning new topics. I would recommend the course for anyone who wants to continue studying Geology/Geoscience but is unsure after their bachelors what topic area they wish to pursue. Highlights included the field trip to Nördlingen crater and studying on such a beautiful campus in the heart of London.  I appreciated particularly how the course allowed me to benefit from further teaching and gain proper experience in researching through the dissertation”. Chantal De Savigny-Bower, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2017-2018.

“One of the main factors that made me want to study Geoscience at UCL was the flexibility in choosing the majority of your own modules. I was able to tailor my degree and delve into my specific interests. My MSc has been instrumental in my chosen career” Muna Aden, MSc Geoscience Alumni. Class of 2016-2018.