Earth Sciences MGeol (Hons)
2017 entry

The MGeol in Earth Sciences will equip you with the skills and knowledge to investigate Earth as an interconnected system, integrating the study of the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, to understand the processes that have formed Earth and that generate environmental change. Applied training is provided via hands-on experience with analytical techniques and focussed field- and laboratory-based study.

The MGeol allows you to combine undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single five-year programme, graduating with a Masters degree. The course is designed to enhance your research experience, preparing you for a career in industry or a PhD.

The MGeol in Earth Sciences from St Andrews is accredited by the Geological Society of London, which provides a faster track to gaining Chartered Geology status.

Students can also take a standard four-year BSc degree in Environmental Earth Sciences or Geology.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

UCAS code


Course type

Master in Geology (Integrated Masters degree)

Course duration

Five years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers

AAAB, including at least two of the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
GCE A-Levels AAB, including at least two of the following subjects:
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
IB points

36, including HL6 in two of the following science subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computing Science or equivalent
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Earth Sciences. 

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Most students who enrol on this course have not studied Earth Sciences at school, and choose Earth Sciences based on a love of the environment, the outdoors, and science. If you are interested in the processes that shape the planet and its environment, a degree in Earth Sciences is likely the right choice. Preference may be given to candidates with strong science qualifications.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Science minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Science entry requirements.

Course information

The MGeol (Hons) in Earth Sciences is a five-year Integrated Masters course run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The MGeol degree is designed to give you advanced experience prior to undertaking full-time employment or PhD research.

During your degree, you will be able to take advantage of hands-on field and laboratory-based research projects that investigate how Earth’s surface became oxygenated, to planetary formation, to how the composition of the oceans and atmosphere have changed through time and their influence on the regulation of climate.

As you advance in your degree, you are given more flexibility to choose your focus of study, whether that be in geological mapping, geochemistry, or global biogeochemical cycles.

MGeol students have the chance to undertake a formal industrial placement with a company that would provide hands-on training as well as the option to take part in a self-organised and planned geological expedition during their degree. In both instances, these would be arranged in consultation with the course and module coordinators.


All students have the opportunity to obtain fieldwork skills via numerous day- to multi-week-long field trips associated with individual modules, as well as up to four weeks of fieldwork associated with their independent research projects.

Examples of the field trips that are part of the MGeol in Earth Sciences include:

  • five-day “Highland Fling” to renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands during first-year studies
  • six days of geological mapping in central Spain examining the polyphase Hercynian and Alpine orogenic belts during second-year studies
  • twelve days of mapping the iconic Moine Thrust system and Caledonian igneous complexes in the Scottish Highlands during third-year studies.
  • a two-week transect of the Alpine orogenic belt through northern Italy and central Switzerland during fourth-year studies.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for MGeol Earth Sciences.

Students can also take a standard four-year BSc degree in Environmental Earth Sciences or Geology.

Find out more about studying Earth Sciences at St Andrews.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in Earth Sciences alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take one to two Earth Sciences modules per semester during your first two years, and three to four during your third, fourth and fifth years (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year:

  • Planet Earth: introduces you to the key geological components that comprise Earth and the geoscientific and environmental sciences used to study the planet.
  • Earth Resources and Environment: builds on the knowledge from Semester 1, including addressing issues related to natural resources.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year:

Honours modules involve key skills training and first-hand experience linked to new research discoveries and advances in Earth Sciences, and courses that have been offered in the past include:

  • Advanced Geological and Environmental Field Methods
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis for Earth Scientists
  • Global Climate Change.

During your final year you will be able to take a number of modules at Masters level, providing advanced training in Earth Sciences. In previous years, Masters-level modules have included:

  • Isotope Geochemistry: Theory, Techniques, and Applications
  • Metallogeny
  • Geodynamics
  • Water in the Environment
  • Advanced Petrogenesis. 

You will also undertake an individual research project on an area of geological sciences which will allow you to pursue a topic of personal interest in depth. You will present your project both orally and in dissertation form.  

The modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

The School’s teaching philosophy is to provide a thorough understanding of Earth Sciences through experiential learning via field and lab-based study, first-hand experience in collecting data, testing hypotheses, undertaking analyses, and student-led investigative research.

The MGeol in Earth Sciences is taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • field work
  • research projects.

Each sub-honours module consists of four to five lectures (60 to 100 students) and one laboratory session per week, several single-day field excursions during each semester, and tutorial sessions (typically between four and six students).

At Honours level, students attend lectures (25 to 35 students) and continue to develop core skills in Earth Sciences through optional modules and their own research project. 


During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting of coursework and written examinations including short questions and essays.

At Honours level some modules are assessed through coursework (50%) and a final examination (50%), and other modules are based entirely on coursework.

The final-year dissertation is assessed through a written dissertation, project proposal and presentation. 


Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Funding for fieldwork

Fieldwork expenses for Geology students are subsidised by the Irvine Bequest and contributions from alumni. There are financial awards at every level of study for students who have earned the highest marks in fieldwork.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Your future


The School is proactive in developing career opportunities for all students from first year onwards. There are a wide variety of career options for Earth Sciences graduates, from the energy and natural resource sectors, to environmental and wider science and policy areas, as well as academia.

Several Honours-level courses feature lectures and laboratories run by industry professionals, providing hands-on experience with industrial problem solving. In addition, the MGeol is accredited by the Geological Society of London, which provides a faster track to chartered success.

Recent employers of MGeol Earth Sciences graduates include:

  • British Geological Survey
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Maersk Oil Ltd
  • BHP Billiton
  • Shell
  • Norsk Hydro
  • Neftex
  • Geotechnics Ltd.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Balfour Beatty.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students in the School may be interested in joining the Geology Society, which organises activities such as lectures and networking events as well as social events and field trips across Britain.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is housed within the Irvine Building, an attractive building close to the sea in the historical heart of the University between St Salvator's Quadrangle and St Salvator's Hall. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, lectures and individual meetings with tutors in this building and in designated lecturer theatres elsewhere on campus.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of Earth and Environmental Science
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3940

Earth and Environmental Sciences website