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Environmental Geoscience (MESci)

  • F645

4 years (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

The four year MESci course at Cardiff involves hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving whilst learning about the process and outcomes of research. It builds upon and augments the equivalent BSc programme by means of a fourth year which enables you to undertake a specialist research project in the area of your choice. It is designed for high quality candidates who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

Environmental Geoscience

What determines the nature of the surface of the Earth, both physically and biologically, temporally and spatially, and how has mankind impacted upon it? This is the sort of question that our Environmental Geoscientists are trained to answer and that our MESci students might research in a dissertation.

Set in an outstanding natural landscape but with a long and heavily polluting industrial history, South Wales offers study sites that include not only upland geomorphology and coastal environments but also landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence making Cardiff an excellent place to study Environmental Geoscience. It is an applied degree that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to landscape evolution, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability. And as an MESci student you will get an opportunity to specialise through your project work and through small group research tutorials.

As well as fieldwork in South Wales, this scheme also has residential trips to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology and to the volcano of Tenerife to study “the whole island concept” linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability. In Year 4 the MESci students chose their own fieldtrip destination, often a Mediterranean island, where they undertake research level fieldwork in their own discipline.

Key Facts

UCAS Code F645
Duration 4 years
How to apply
Accreditation  Geological Society of London
Typical places available The School admits 150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, usually between 35-40 on its Environmental Geoscience programmes.
Typical applications received 850
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer AAB
Admissions Tutors Dr Jennifer Pike
Tel Number 029 2087 4830
Email address
School website

The evolution of our present environment and its future development is a key subject for present global enquiry. It includes the problems of climate change and the effect of human activities on the environment. The MESci in Environmental Geoscience provides a basis for investigation of these key areas of current international interest. By its nature Environmental Geoscience neatly divides into two streams: an applied and a global stream. The applied stream tends to focus on pollution and contamination and provides suites of modules geared to providing you with the skills needed to identify and resolve these environmental problems. The second area focuses on global problems such as climatic change and anthropogenic effects on the planetary environment. This suite of modules provides you with the knowledge and understanding which enables you to investigate these problems.

Environmental Geoscience

Year 1

The course structure is very flexible. All Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Science degree programmes share a common first Semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in Earth Sciences upon which to build. At the end of your first Semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's Earth Science degrees.

You will study the following modules:

  • The Sedimentary System
  • Life Through Time
  • Earth and Planetary System Science
  • Fieldwork (including a residential trip to Arran)
  • Earth Science Skills
  • Natural Resources and Energy
  • Formation of the British Isles
  • Dangerous Earth
  • Geological Maps, Sections & Structures
  • Environmental Chemistry and Biology

Year 2

In Year 2 you will study the following modules:

  • Fieldwork
  • Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Applied GIS
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Earth Surface Processes
  • Palaeoecology
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Structural Geology
  • Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology
  • The Atmosphere System
  • Geoecology

The fieldwork module is designed to provide you with the field skills necessary to undertake environmental projects and assessments. You will be able to research into any aspect of these field courses which interest you and will prepare a research poster on your research for presentation and discussion at the annual MESci Research Conference.

Year 3

You will complete an environmental project based on the practical field or laboratory work you have done in the Summer vacation between Years 2 and 3. In some cases, you will have taken an industrial placement during this vacation and you will complete your project on this industrial placement. You will research into any area of environmental geoscience you choose and learn how to prepare a research paper for publication. You will present the results of this research at the annual MESci Research Conference.

Core Modules

  • Research Tutorial
  • Environmental Geoscience Project
  • Environmental Geoscience Field Course
  • Global Geomprphology
  • Environmental Case Studies

Optional Modules

  • Engineering Geology
  • Palaeobiology
  • Environmental Law
  • Global Climate Change
  • Marine Microfossils
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Water Resources
  • Environmental Management and Policy
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Biogeography

Year 4

You will complete a Masters research dissertation in any Environmental Geoscience topic that can be supervised in the School. You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor and probably interact with a research group. Since the School is very large and of international research standard, this means that you have a wide choice of dissertation topic. Many students develop their own topics and contact a researcher to see if they can supervise it. Alternatively a list of projects is published each year for you to choose from. The research dissertation is complemented by a Research Frontiers module, in which the latest ideas in Earth Sciences research are discussed. In addition to a Year 4 fieldcourse you have a choice of optional modules:

  • Process Geomorphology
  • Evolution of Antarctica
  • Planetary Geology
  • Contaminated Land
  • Marine Carbonate Chemistry
  • Palynology

You may also be able to choose Year 3 modules you were unable to take previously as options.

Visit the Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences website for more information about modules and credits.

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching in the Earth Sciences.  This educational experience is enhanced by frontier earth scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, involved in national and international research programmes, teaching alongside its students as they learn.  This team ensures students receive the highest quality teaching, delivered by lecturers at the cutting edge of international research. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree programmes.  These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry focussed exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water borne marine geography.  The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen programme in January of your first year.  Thus there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree programme or pathway.

Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods –

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork – both on land and for the Marine Geography students on the sea in the School’s own research vessel too

Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and “learning how to learn”.  Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips.  All students are assigned a tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in Year 1 and monthly during other years.  Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advice on both academic and pastoral matters.

As well as conventional BSc programmes, an optional one year industrial placement is available for some of the BSc degrees.  These placements provide an opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries.  Students are supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a ‘Year Out’. The four year MESci schemes focus on research training and critical analysis making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions.

Most modules will contain some element of course work so the ability to work independently is crucial.  Formal unseen exams and presentations are a key component of the way you are assessed.  You will also undertake group work and project work, with all students producing a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choosing in the final year.

Typical A-level Offer


At least two A-levels should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths

Typical WBQ Offer  WBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A level, excluding the required science Geology/Geography A level(s).
Typical Int Bacc Offer  32-33 points, including at least two Sciences at Higher Level
Other Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

In 2010, 51% of the School of Earth and Ocean Science’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 20% were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel.

Employers included: local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Career destinations included: water industry; local authority - waste management; environmental advisor – construction industry; software analyst, surveying; environmental consultant; pollution monitoring.

Careers case studies

Victoria Evans BSc Environmental Geoscience 2009 and MSc Applied Environmental Geology at Cardiff 2010
Victoria is currently studying for a PhD at Manchester University looking at microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of nuclear waste storage facilities, with field and laboratory work at Sellafield. Studying how radioactive waste interacts with the biosphere and how micro-organisms control the environmental behaviour of radionuclides.

Victoria says: “The School offered excellent teaching and fantastic field trips including Scotland, the Netherlands and Tenerife, along with a high level of academic flexibility, allowing me to adapt and focus my learning to meet my individual needs.”

Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, giving our students hands on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching. Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.

Environmental Geoscience

You will be out in the field with us during the first week of teaching, taking part in a variety of induction events which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your programme in informal surroundings, meet some of your lectures away from the constrains of the classroom and see some of our local field areas. . As an Environmental Geoscience student you will take part in induction activities with all our new 1st Years but will also go as a cohort to the Garth mountain South Wales where you will see first-hand some of the environmental issues and get a chance to meet students on your course.

Throughout Year 1 you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential fieldtrip to Pembrokeshire, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and environmental analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in Year 2, as an Environmental Geoscience student you will go on a residential trip to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology as well as undertaking an extensive fieldwork programme of day trips around South Wales focusing on geomorphology, ecology, water and the impact of industrialisation. As an MESci student you will also be expected to investigate an aspect of your fieldwork and produce and present a research poster to staff and students later in Year 2.

Between Year 2 and Year 3 all students undertake a five week individual project, training for which has been undertaken throughout the year. As an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will get supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also get a visit in the field.

In Year 3 (for those of you not on the International scheme) the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focusing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you will undertake field day trips to local areas and also a residential trip to Tenerife to study the 'whole island concept' linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability. Those of you on the International scheme will find yourselves in one of our partner institutions (such as Miami, USA who currently offer a residential fieldtrip to Ecuador).

In your final year when you are all back in Cardiff your residential fieldtrip takes place in an area in the UK or abroad selected by the student cohort. In recent years the MESci fieldtrip has taken place in northern Pennines, Malta, Ibiza, Scilly and Naples. Students carry out field-based projects designed by themselves, to explore their individual research interests with academic staff on hand to direct and help out.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Jenny Pike  




School Website:

More information

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences