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MSciGeology and Physical Geography (International Year)

University of Birmingham
United Kingdom, Birmingham
Tuition fee To be confirmed
More information

Expenses, accommodation, working etc.



What drives the occurrence of natural hazards, and how can we forecast and respond to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? What can past climate records teach us about future climate change? How is the movement of tectonic plates reflected in the landscape around us? If these are questions that you might ask, then this is the course for you.

Our Geology and Physical Geography course is a flexible degree, supported by an extensive fieldwork programme, that will give you a broad-based knowledge of the Earth sciences. The course allows you to select from a large number of options and to specialise in the topics that interest you. You could choose to study topics as varied as volcanic hazards, environmental protection, applied micrometeorology, engineering geology, or remote sensing methods.

The International Year programme gives you the opportunity to spend a year studying in an Earth sciences department overseas, before returning to Birmingham in Year 4 to specialise further. You will graduate with a broad range of experience and independent research skills – an ideal background for a wide variety of professional careers. You may go on to work in pollution control or hydrogeology, or you could opt to become a geotechnical engineer, work for the British Geological Survey, carry out research or go into teaching. A Geology and Physical Geography degree from Birmingham sets you up for a wide range of exciting careers.

Programme structure

Year 1
Compulsory modules

The first year provides you with a broad training in topics across the subject, through several compulsory modules. We don’t assume any prior knowledge; the chemistry, physics and maths that you require is taught in the context of individual modules, and applied to the problems that you’re investigating. The Field Skills module includes one-day regional field trips and a residential trip to South West Wales, training you in key skills in geological observation, data recording and interpretation.

Geological Field Skills
Global Environmental Issues
Earth History and Life
Earth and Environmental Systems
Dynamic Solid Earth
Research Skills in Earth Sciences
Year 2
Compulsory modules

The year two content builds on the first year, covering a range of specialised topics. Compulsory modules cover sedimentology, past environments, and a resources module, and you can also choose two or three options from diverse selection. The Year 2 field courses take you to North West Scotland, where you will focus on quaternary processes and geomorphology, and to Dorset and Cornwall, where you will cover a wide range of exercises, from palaeontology to structural geology.

Field Skills and Project Planning for Major Independent Projects
Environments of the Past
Optional modules


Resources and the Environment

Resources and Hydrogeology
Plus 30 credits (up to a total of 120 credits) of optional modules. Example optional modules may include:

Palaeobiology, Micropalaeontology and Palaeoenvironmental Analysis
Applied Geophysics
Hydroclimatology: Climate and Water
Geomorphological Processes
Ecological Systems
Environmental Pollution
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Year 3
Your third year is spent at a partner institution overseas.

There you will have the opportunity to study a number of modules which will count towards your final degree. The year abroad will deepen your learning by exposing you to a new environment with different opportunities.

You may take advantage of the different geological environment to undertake your undergraduate research project in the host country.

Year 4
Compulsory modules

The compulsory Year 4 modules include your major research project – in a topic that you will have devised with an academic – and a skills-based module. The skills module includes a field course in Tenerife, focused on volcanic processes and hazards, as well as training you in research and science communication.

Advanced Project
Advanced Field, Research and Communication Skills
Optional modules

You also take two optional modules from a wide variety of topics. Example optional modules may include:

Climate Change in the Earth System
Basin Analysis
Evolution of Vertebrates
Petroleum Geoscience
Evolutionary Palaeobiology
Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Geological Natural Hazards
Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater
Environmental Geophysics
Groundwater Organic Contaminant Pollution and Remediation
Ore Deposits and Gemmology
Tectonic and Magmatic Processes

Career opportunities

Geology careers are extremely diverse, with students going into a wide range of professions. Increasing numbers of our graduates are employed in environmental planning, land remediation hydrogeology and pollution control. Opportunities in some fields, notably the oil and minerals industries, vary from year to year. Other employers include the British Geological Survey (BGS), local authorities, museums, government organisations and engineering and construction companies. Other graduates decide on a career in teaching either from primary or right through to further education. Many students also go on to careers around the world in locations including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

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