Geophysics MSci (2024)
Geophysics is the study of the physical process that shape the Earth, including its, composition, evolution and dynamics. We tackle this through a multidisciplinary programme ranging from understanding Earth materials, through the internal processes that drive plate tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes, to understanding atmosphere, weather and climate. This provides a firm foundation in geology, physics, mathematics and computing.
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme startsSeptember 2025
Application deadline29 Jan 2025
UCAS course code
- Mathematics and Physics required. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
- English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 4.
Contextual offer information
Contextual offers are typically one to two grades lower than the standard offer. Grade and subject requirements for contextual offers for this programme will be published in Summer 2024.
- A total of 17 points in three higher level subjects including Mathematics and Physics, with no higher level score below 5. The programme will accept either 'Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches' or 'Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation' at higher level. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
Contextual offers are typically one to two grade boundaries (equivalent to A levels) lower than the standard offer. IB Diploma grade and subject requirements for contextual offers for this programme will be published in Summer 2024.
UK applicants qualifications
For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:
Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 30 credits at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit, all from Level 3 units. Please note, where subject specific requirements are stipulated at A level we may review your Access to HE syllabus to ensure you meet the subject specific requirements prior to a final decision being communicated. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.
D3,D3,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects, including Mathematics and Physics. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
AAB at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher). Mathematics and Physics required at Advanced Higher. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.
Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.
Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A levels at grades AAB, including Mathematics and Physics. Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Geology/Geography preferred.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
Access and widening participationUCL is committed to widening access to higher education. If you are eligible for Access UCL you do not need to do anything in addition to the standard UCAS application. Your application will be automatically flagged when we receive it.
Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates
The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPC) prepare international students for a UCL undergraduate degree who don’t have the qualifications to enter directly. These intensive one-year foundation courses are taught on our central London campus.
Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.
For more information see: ucl.ac.uk/upc.
English language requirements
The English language level for this programme is: Level 1
Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.
A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.
In their first two years all students study a common geophysics syllabus covering the fundamentals of mathematics, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, Earth materials, structural geology and tectonics, global geophysics and Earth processes. Theoretical studies are integrated with a large element of illustrative practical work both in the laboratory and in the field.
In the third and fourth years there are more advanced modules in seismology, geodynamics and global tectonics and there is the opportunity to specialise in, for example, the environmental aspects of the subject such as groundwater resources.
We take a modern approach to teaching with modules based around laboratory practicals and theory workshops. Fieldwork provides a unique opportunity to develop independent and team skills and problem-solving abilities.
The first three years of the MSci programme are identical to the BSc programme. However, the additional fourth year of the MSci allows for a major individual research project and advanced optional modules, providing extra depth and breadth of knowledge.
What this course will give you
Our department delivers world-leading teaching (ranked 3rd in the UK in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: Geophysics) embracing the origins and history of life, Earth's composition and structure, earthquake and volcanic hazards, and past and present climate change, and these are fully integrated within our taught programme.
UCL has state-of-the-art geophysical instruments including the new technique of ground penetrating radar (GPR), a new magnetometer/gradiometer (for archaeological and environmental surveys) and new, modern seismics.
You will be taught by lecturers who are active researchers within their fields, ensuring everything you learn is up to date and providing you with opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research activities.
We are located in the Kathleen Lonsdale Building, providing you with access to world-class facilities including bespoke teaching laboratories, microscope facilities and student study areas, all in the heart of the department, next to staff offices and research laboratories.
Teaching and learning
In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
Upon successful completion of 480 credits, you will be awarded a MSci (Hons) in Geophysics.
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 is 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.
The MSci Geophysics programme is intended to provide a complete education and training that will qualify students for a wide range of high-level professional employment or postgraduate education and research within and outside the subject area. We also offer an International programme variant incorporating a year abroad. The latter is open to all students who wish to explore this option and have the prerequisites (see MSci International Programme).
In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules (usually 8 per year), normally valued at 15 credits. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from year-to-year.
In Year 1, students develop a fundamental knowledge base in both practical, theoretical and field-based skills in geology and geophysics alongside fundamental classes in Mathematical methods and Physics.
In Year 2, students develop specific skills used in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and continue to expand the physical and mathematical skills needed to succeed in geophysics. One module, compulsory to all geophysics students introduces them to the numerical (using computers and programming) solution to fundamental geophysical problems. This module also teaches fundamental skills for preparing high-quality figures and reports.
In Year 3, geophysics students have several compulsory modules in Geodynamics and Seismology, and Field Geophysics but have considerable scope to develop an individual portfolio of interests through a range of advanced, research-based optional modules. These modules include research-based activities and independent research projects that match students to researchers one-to-one. A major field-based class teaches students about modern geophysical equipment, and provides a focus for outputs that include figures, a scientific poster, oral presentations and a research report. It includes a public outreach component to English Heritage and presentations by leaders in Geophysical consulting and industry.
In Year 4, students gain specific training in research skills in preparation for postgraduate education or a professional career in Geophysics. Students further develop their interests by choosing from a range of M-level optional courses, usually aligned with their chosen research project. A major independent research project provides a focal point for the year and students are involved in project choice and design, perform the work within major research teams, and produce outputs that frequently lead to professional presentations and publications. The year closes with an Undergraduate Research Conference attended by students, staff and alumni.
We use a mixture of lectures, practical classes, field courses, directed reading, problem-orientated learning, private study and tutorials to enable you to gain the theoretical knowledge and practical skills demanded by the programme, as well as to develop key transferable skills such as critical analysis, report writing, team working and organisational skills.
Typical weekly contact hours in the first three years will be 8 hours of lectures and 8 hours of practicals. Lecturers are also available for help outside these formal hours, as well regular tutorial sessions. During field trips, student will have constant contact with several members of staff (except for the independent mapping). Students are also expected to do an additional 15 to 20 hours per week independent study.
You will be assessed by a combination of written examinations, practical examinations, coursework, independent project reports and sometimes an oral examination.
The foundation of your career
All our students are encouraged and helped towards making informed career choices. We have excellent relationships with many employers in diverse aspects of the Earth and planetary sciences, and students are actively guided towards achieving their potential at UCL in preparation for their future careers.
In addition to further study, main employment destinations include: exploration and production for mining, oil and engineering companies; groundwater resources management; investigating ground conditions associated with land use, such as planning, construction and waste disposal; geological surveying, and collecting geological information for maps and databases.
Together with subject-specific skills, geophysics graduates have a wide range of transferable skills, developed through fieldwork, computer modelling and independent research, which are highly valued by employers in general, offering opportunities for careers in the City, commerce and government.
This programme is accredited by the Geological Society. Undergraduate students may join the Geological Society as a Candidate Fellow and can become a Fellow of the Society upon graduation. A graduate taking an accredited undergraduate programme will be gaining experience and insights directly relevant to a later award of Chartered Geologist or Scientist (CGeol/CSci) status.
Fees and funding
Fees for this course
|Tuition fees (2024/25)
|Tuition fees (2024/25)
The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2024/25 academic year. The UK fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2024/25 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.
Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.
The department makes a substantial contribution towards fieldwork costs (ranging between £150-800 per student per trip), covering all accommodation and in-field transportation for all fieldwork which is organised by the department. The majority of the fieldtrips include breakfast and/or dinner. Some fieldtrips in the second year are self-catered. Students are expected to cover their transportation to and from the beginning of the field location for some of the 2nd and 3rd year non-UK field trips (cost of a return flight/train or bus), at an estimated cost of £200-£400. Costs for years 1-3 are the same as for the coresponding BSc. In the fourth year, there is a 4-day trip to Germany. Students are expected to cover their transport to Germany (~£150). In-field transportation and accommodation (half-board) are covered by the department, so students are expected to cover lunches (~£50).
A guide including rough estimates for these and other living expenses is included on the UCL Fees and funding pages. If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc., please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).
Funding your studies
Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.
The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.
We are looking for students with a broad interest in science. Previous knowledge or experience in the Earth Sciences is not needed, but you should know why you wish to take our degrees. Students will need to be hard-working, self-motivated, bright and able to work independently but as well as part of a team.
How to apply
Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.
For further information on UCL's selection process see: How we assess your application.
Although we do recommend that all applicants who receive an offer visit UCL, we recognise that this is not always possible; applicants from regions distant from London and from outside the UK are not normally required to attend. Instead thse applicants will have an opportunity to chat with current students and staff during an online Virtual Open Day.
We normally reach a decision on making an offer on the basis of the application alone. If you are resident in the UK and have been made an offer you will be invited to a Post Offer Open Day. This visit will include introductory talks on UCL Earth Sciences and our degree programmes, a tour of the department and UCL and a question and answer session.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.