Geochemistry (MSc) 2017 entry
The MSc in Geochemistry develops knowledge and skills training in geochemistry and modern geochemical methods, involving field work, extensive hands-on laboratory training and experience with state-of-the-art equipment. The course provides preparation for pursuing a PhD, through a lab-based research dissertation, or direct employment in industry through the incorporation of applied economic and environmental geochemistry modules.
Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)
One year full time or two years part time
A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a subject-related area. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.
The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.
UK and EU: £7,500
- sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
- two original signed academic references
- academic transcripts and degree certificates
- English language requirements certificate
- letter of intent (optional).
For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.
If you started this programme in 2016, you can find information about 2016 entry on the 2016 Geochemistry MSc page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in our archive.
The MSc in Geochemistry is a comprehensive and rigorous course that combines compulsory and optional taught modules, field work, short courses, and a research dissertation. Hands-on experience developing a diverse set of laboratory skills is embedded into the course.
- A wide range of expertise in the field of geochemistry, underpinned by new state-of-the-art laboratory facilities.
- A dynamic and research-intensive atmosphere is encouraged and is supportive of all students.
- A focus on hands-on laboratory and field training throughout the course.
The MSc degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework, normally equivalent to a total of nine taught modules, and a 15,000 word dissertation. The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework and written examinations.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue which is for the 2016–2017 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2017 entry.
There are six compulsory modules.
- Geochemistry: covers origin and distribution of the elements, thermodynamics, kinetics and aqueous geochemistry.
- Physical Chemistry Laboratory: comprises four practical experiments chosen from reaction kinetics, physical absorption of gases, macromolecular structures, diffraction, surface properties of materials, and dye modifications to photovoltaic cells.
- Isotope Geochemistry: Theory, Techniques, and Applications: explores the theory of isotopes and their fractionation, including kinetic, equilibrium and Rayleigh fractionation, and how isotope measurements are made. It concludes with case studies and applications.
- Advanced Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the functioning of the Earth system and the cycling of natural materials between fluid and solid phases.
- Earth's Greatest Hits: reviews current 'hot topics' research about how our planet has evolved and some of the major changes in its chemistry, biosphere and climate.
- Geochemistry Field Excursion: covers best practice field skills in documenting the geological and environmental controls in a geochemical problem, how to collect samples, and post-trip sample analyses and report writing.
Students choose three optional modules out of the following choices:
- Water in the Environment: provides a combination of the underpinning hydrological theory and the analytical tools required to better understand and ameliorate problems of water in the environment.
- Advanced Petrogenesis: explores the nature of the acid and basic magmatism that creates the Earth's crust, the petrography and geochemistry of the minerals and rocks created, and the petrogenesis and evolution of the magmas.
- Biogeochemistry: examines the role of biogeochemical processes in controlling Earth surface chemistry, and their possible influence on deep Earth reservoirs. It highlights current geochemical and numerical techniques used to constrain these interactions in both modern and ancient (rock record) systems.
- Metallogeny: focuses on the geodynamic setting, age, geometry and mineralogy of the principal metallic mineral deposits using a holistic approach.
- Homogeneous Catalysis: discusses the use of metal-based systems in organic transformations and a detailed treatment of homogenous catalysis.
- Processing of Materials: focuses on the processing of materials and fundamental materials properties such as crystallinity, composition, crystal phase, phase mixing, domain structure, grains and grain boundaries, porosity and pore structure.
- Energy Conversion and Storage: discusses the technical details and environmental applications of electrochemical technologies for energy storage, such as batteries and fuel cells.
- Blockbuster Solids: focuses on how material structure influences its electrical, magnetic and thermal properties, with emphasis placed on metal organic frameworks and how they can be used for the storage and release of gases.
- Advanced Molecular Inorganic Chemistry: focuses on advanced discussion of the properties of selected main group compounds, spectroscopy and magnetism.
The modules listed ran in the academic year 2016–2017 and are indicative of this course. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2017 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.
The third semester of the MSc course focusses on independent laboratory-based, or field- and laboratory-based research conducted with an academic supervisor. The topic is defined by the student and can be chosen from research foci within the department. The research project will involve project formulation, a background literature review, proposal writing and analytical design, as well as data integration and interpretation.
Students present the results of their project as an oral presentation, at a poster conference, and in a dissertation. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date towards the end of August.
If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.
Conferences and events
The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences holds monthly seminars with expert guest speakers from the UK and abroad.
After the MSc
This comprehensive and rigorous course is relevant preparation for pursuing a PhD in Geochemistry by incorporating a lab-based research dissertation. Many of our graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) often provides funding for PhD programmes in Earth and Environmental Science through the IAPETUS Doctoral Training Programme.
The range of research areas and applications of geochemistry is so broad that career opportunities span the whole of earth and environmental sciences. Masters-level training in geochemistry would provide a suitable platform for a career in materials science outside of earth and environmental sciences specifically.
Geochemists with MSc degrees are employed in:
- the energy sector (hydrocarbon industries, petrochemicals, nuclear and renewables)
- mining and mineral exploration, extraction and processing
- environmental industries and agencies focused on pollution monitoring and environmental remediation
- within universities as laboratory technicians running equipment and supporting high quality data production for research projects.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).
The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).