Logo of Royal Holloway University of London

MSciEnvironmental Geoscience

Tuition fee To be confirmed
More information

Expenses, accommodation, working etc.



Population growth, global industrialisation and other related issues are putting our planet under unprecedented strain. As an Environmental Geoscientist you’ll be in a position to apply both acute problem-solving skills and the profound understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet required to help overcome some of our most significant threats.

This four-year programme gives you a thorough understanding of environmental geoscience, and is an ideal preparation to progress into postgraduate study or a scientific or technical career.

The Department of Earth Sciences is consistently ranked among the country’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide and The Guardian 2016). As an Environmental Geoscience student you’ll contribute to our leading research and work alongside our expert academics in a friendly, community-focussed department.

Participating in exciting fieldwork opportunities in the UK and overseas will develop your scientific understanding and hands-on experience of environmental, ecological and health issues. Choose from a range of optional modules in years two, three and four, tailoring your learning experience to fit your interests and career ambitions.

You’ll graduate with an integrated Masters (MSci) degree from one of the UK’s most highly-regarded departments, with the practical and research skills you need to pursue a rewarding career in your chosen field.

This programme has been developed to lead students to posgraduate study and and is also recommended for those who wish to undertake a broader and deeper study of the subject. It will prepare you for careers in petroleum geology, environmental engineering, geographic analysis and other exciting sectors.

Programme structure

Year 1

Global Tectonics
In this module you will develop an understanding of the evolution of major features of current and past tectonic activity of the Earth. You will look at the current understanding of the Earth’s interior, considering its importance for both the kinematic and tectonic evolution of the planet. You will also explore how plate boundaries have formed, the dynamic processes involved, the types of data used to investigate these regions both onshore and offshore, and the importance of these processes to society.

Introductory Sedimentology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the surface processes and the mechanisms of weathering, transport and deposition. You will look at the classification of sediments and sedimentary rocks, and consider depositional facies analysis and interpretation of the paleoenvironment. You will also examine the use and interpretation of sedimentary logs, triangular diagrams, vector scales and granylometric data in analysing sedimentary rocks.

Environmental Issues with Maths
In this module you will develop an understanding of the fundamentals of environmental geology, including the connection between ecology and geology, the rates of geological processes, and the structure of the Earth. You will look at natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanism, tsunamis, landslides and flooding. You will also consider the origin and usage of water and energy resources and examine the geological tools available to study climate change. You will learn how to manipulate algebraic equations and expressions, gaining familiarity with several types of charts, diagrams, and projections commonly used in geological sciences, such as log-log plots and stereonets.

Igneous and Metamorphic Geology 1
In this module you will develop an understanding of crystallography, rock-forming minerals, their occurrence and textures in igneous and metamorphic rocks. You will look at igneous and metamorphic geology, volcanic and plutonic rocks, mineral identification, crystallisation, silicates, metamorphic rocks and textures. You will also examine the origin of chemical variation in volcanic rocks, metamorphic rocks and textures, and ore minerals.

Physics and Chemistry of Earth
In this module you will develop an understanding of basic concepts in chemistry and physics and how to apply these to geological processes. You will look at atoms and atomic structure, the periodic table of elements, reactions, equations, geochemical analysis, the composition of the earth, interpretation of phase diagrams, solubility of minerals, weathering and the hydrological cycle. You will also consider Newton’s Laws, kinematics, circular motion, planetary orbits, gravity, magnetism, electricity, resistivity, stress, strain, seismicity, isostasy, radioactivity, and geochronology.

Earth Structures
In this module you will develop an understanding of the principles of structural geology and the interpretation of geological maps. You will look at large scale geological structures and learn how to recognise them on geological maps. You will consider how to interpret maps, recognise outcrop patterns, geological structures and geological relationships on maps, and how to draw cross sections. You will also examine smaller scale structures in hand specimen and outcrop, and analyse structural data in order to understand larger scale structural relationships.

Introductory Palaeontology
In this module you will develop an understanding of palaeobiology and palaeoecology. You will look at the the diagnostic characters of the major groups of fossils in the laboratory and field, and compare and contrast examples from the main categories of fossils, learning to differentiate between them. You will also examine the diversity of fossils and see how this can be applied in both stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental analysis.

Scientific and Geological Field Skills
In this module you develop an understanding of the skills required to practice geology in the field, carrying out a series of activities in South Devon and Pembrokeshire. You will learn to describe and interpret the origin of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and how to prepare a geological map and cross-section using standard symbols. You will examine stereographic projections, sedimentary logging, the construction of stratigraphic columns for the identification of rocks, and the analysis of structural features using sterenets.

Year 2

Stratigraphy and History of Life
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key events in the history of life and their environmental impact using the fossil and sedimentary record. You will analyse fossil assemblages using stratigraphic principles such as absolute dating, lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy. You will consider how to interpret sedimentary rocks, and examine the importance of fossil assemblages in the interpretation of events in earth history.

Regional Geology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the geological evolution of the British Isles, interpreting regional geological history from geological maps. You will learn to describe rock specimens, and examine how palaeoenvironments can be reconstructed using case studies. You will also consider the application of stratigraphic techniques and use evidence from several different fields of geology to evaluate competing hypotheses for geological evolution.

In this module you will develop an understanding of the hazards associated with geological activity, their causes, and approaches to risk management. You will look at volcanoes, earthquakes, and radon, and the hazards associated with the exploitation of geological resources and associated anthropogenic activity, including asbestos, the mining industry, and contaminated land. You will examine a variety of geological and geochemical data, and learn to interpret and analyse these in order to make scientifically justified decisions as to the level of risk.

In this module you will develop an understanding of advanced chemical concepts relevant to the Earth Sciences. You will focus on isotope geochemistry and consider techniques that are directly applicable in most geological contexts. You will attend practical classes and conduct a small project involving the analysis and interpretation of a real geochemical dataset.

Year 3

Advanced Concepts and Techniques in Geology
GIS and Remote Sensing
Environmental Geoscience Report
Methods of Environmental Investigation

Year 4

Individual Environmental Geoscience Project

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Career opportunities

Environmental Geoscience (MSci) at Royal Holloway, University of London is geared towards leading students to further postgraduate study and to scientific or technical careers in the Earth Sciences. You’ll graduate with a Masters degree , as well as a practical skillset that will prove attractive to employers in a variety of sectors. The Department retains excellent industry connections, with representatives regularly visiting the campus to provide careers opportunities for current students.

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
This intake is not applicable

We are currently NOT ACCEPTING applications from NON-EU countries, except Georgia and Serbia.

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
This intake is not applicable

We are currently NOT ACCEPTING applications from NON-EU countries, except Georgia and Serbia.

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States