Geoscience MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This MSc is a uniquely broad and flexible programme that suits students' aspirations, background and experience. UCL 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 department and more widely across UCL, building an MSc tailored to their interests.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants whose qualifications are of lower second class honours standard may be admitted if evidence of an adequate academic background and appropriate field experience can be shown.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

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.

Who this course is for

The MSc in Geosciences is aimed at students who have studied Earth sciences, physical geography, or fundamental sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology etc. at undergraduate level. The programme is broad and modular, including a small number of compulsory modules and a larger number of options. By selecting particular options, and also choosing the topic of the research dissertation, the student is able to tailor the MSc program to their specific needs and aspirations. The programme is suitable for students with a background in geology, geophysics, physical geography or a relevant discipline who want to prepare for research in the Earth sciences and for entry into a PhD programme.

What this course will give you

UCL Earth Sciences is engaged in world-class research in the processes on and within the Earth, atmosphere and planets with over 90% of submissions rated at 4 or 3* in the REF2021) into the processes at work on and within the Earth and planets.

Graduate students benefit from our lively and welcoming environment and world-class facilities, which include the UK's only NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility and access to the University of London Observatory in north London. The department is based in the Kathleen Lonsdale Building, which reopened in 2018 following a £27.5 million refurbishment.

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.

The foundation of your career

We have excellent relations with many employers in diverse aspects of the Earth sciences and students are actively guided towards preparation for their future careers. You will develop transferable skills in critical analysis of quantitative and qualitative information, problem-solving and lateral thinking, research and data collection analysis and interpretation, and in presenting your results to non-specialists. 

The majority of our graduates go on to PhD research or professional careers that often incorporate geological expertise (hydrocarbons, water and mineral extraction and management; museums and curation, higher education, environmental assessment and management; civil engineering, etc.). However, our graduates find employment across a wide range of professions including management, the financial sector, scientific journalism, and teaching.


 The MSc in geosciences has a very successful track record in terms of postgraduate employment at professional level. In recent years approximately one third of our graduates achieve employment in Geoscience-related industries, such as environment consultancies, one third obtain PhD positions within the Earth sciences or related fields, and approximately one third go into non-Earth sciences professions such as journalism and teaching.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Student performance is assessed through coursework, written assignments, unseen written examination and the dissertation.

On average it is expected that a student spends 150 hours studying for each 15-credit module. This includes teaching time, private study and coursework. Modules are usually taught in weekly two-hour sessions over 10 weeks each term.


The MSc can be taken full-time over one year or part-time over two years. During the course of the programme the student must achieve 180 credits;120 of these credits come from the taught component and are usually achieved by taking eight 15 credit modules. Three of these modules are normally compulsory and include a course on research methods that provide analytical, statistical and computing skills; a research proposal, which involves a literature review and feasibility study in preparation for the research dissertation: and the Earth and Planetary Systems Science module, which involves seminars, journal club-style presentations etc., which enable students to practice their presentation skills while at the same time providing them with information on the latest developments in a series of ‘hot topics’ within the geosciences.

The other five modules are selected from a range of options offered by the Department of Earth Sciences. Such options include courses on geochemistry, geophysics, palaeoceanography, palaeobiology, seismology, volcanology, and several others. Moreover, up to two 15 credit modules may be selected from other departments at UCL, such as Geography, Anthropology, Astronomy, Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Biology, and so on. The remaining 60 credits required for the MSc come from the research dissertation. This is a substantial piece of research that is supervised by one or more members of staff in this department. Students can find a project either by selecting one from a publicised list, or they may also develop their own project ideas in collaboration with a potential supervisor. The research project starts at the beginning of Term 2 (January), and the bulk of the research itself takes place after the exams in May.

For the full-time version of the MSc, a typical course of study would involve: arriving at UCL in late September for induction and commencement of courses; taking approximately four modules during Term 1; taking another four modules during Term 2, including the research proposal; taking the exams relating to the taught components in May; after receiving feedback on the research proposal from supervisors and other markers, students then carry out and write up there research project from June to August; research dissertations are submitted in early September.

Students need to achieve 180 credits by the end of the Masters, which for part-time students will take place over two years. Therefore, we normally suggest that part-time students achieve 75 credits in their first year and 105 in their second year. The first year 75 credits would normally be composed of five modules, each worth 15 credits. These first year modules will normally be the two compulsory courses relating to Research Methods and the Earth and Planetary System Science courses. You would then be free to choose another three optional modules. In year two, you would take the third compulsory module, Research Proposal, which is preparation for the dissertation. You will also take another two optional modules each worth 15 credits. Finally, you would carry out your dissertation research (60 credits) in the spring and summer of the second year.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Geoscience.


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.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Earth Sciences

Join our Virtual Graduate Open Event to learn more about our range of Master's programmes, how our programmes are taught, and what it's like to study at UCL Earth Sciences. In these online sessions, you'll have the opportunity to hear from academic staff and ask any questions you might have about studying at UCL.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £38,300 £19,150

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

There is a compulsory field trip to Germany. Students are expected to pay for travel to the field area (flight, train and also taxi or bus fees to arrive at airports and accommodation) and essential subsistence. Estimated travel costs are £200. Accommodation costs are covered by the department.

Robust clothing is required and will need to be purchased if the student does not already possess some. This includes: waterproof jacket, suitable walking boots, notebook, pens, pencils. Geological field equipment (hammer, compass clinometer, etc.) are optional.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

Please refer to the UCL Scholarships website for available funding

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. For more information please visit:

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Brown Family Bursary

Deadline: 8 June 2023
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Geoscience at graduate level
  • why you want to study Geoscience at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
  • Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

    Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

    Choose your programme

    Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

    Year of entry: 2023-2024

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