Geology BSc (Hons)
2017 entry

The BSc in Geology at St Andrews will provide you with a deep understanding of the materials, structures, and processes that have characterised the solid earth throughout its 4.6 billion year history. The BSc Geology degree emphasises the origin and chemistry of rocks and minerals, geological mapping, and the processes and events that have shaped the rock record.

Teaching provides training in the interaction of the sediments, minerals, and rocks with the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, integrating chemistry, physics, and biology to build a deep understanding of the Geosciences. Applied industrial training will introduce you to the skills and knowledge required by the oil and gas and mining industries, and research projects will allow you to undertake independent field mapping, supported by rock and mineral analysis.

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

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the Earth Sciences Integrated Masters course, which allows you to graduate with a Master of 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

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers

AAAB, including at least two sciences from the following:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
GCE A-Levels

AAB, including at least two sciences from the following:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
IB points

36, including HL6 in at least two sciences from the following:

  • 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 Geology.

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.

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 BSc in Geology is a four-year course run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and provides students with a combination of academic skills and vocational training. During your degree, you will be able to take advantage of hands-on field and laboratory-based research projects that investigate topics as varied as the origin of continental crust, to planetary origin and differentiation, to causes and consequences of Earth system functioning during pivotal periods of Earth history.

In first year, you will be introduced to the main concepts of Geology, such as Earth structure and Earth history, including the origin of the planet and Earth’s biosphere.

In second year, modules provide additional and deeper study into mineralogy, sedimentary systems, palaeontology, geophysics and geochemistry.

At Honours level, there is a shift from broad-themed modules to more specialised ones that introduce students to a wide variety of exciting new research trends and findings. Modules involve the opportunity to get first-hand experience of new research discoveries and advances in Geology by staff in an integrated lecture-lab-field forum.

Advanced topics available at Honours level include (but are not limited to) GIS (geographic information systems) for earth science, petroleum exploration and geophysics, and structural geology and tectonics.

The School is home to an array of state-of-the-art analytical facilities supported by full-time technicians. These allow for the detailed characterisation of natural and synthetic materials, culturing of micro and macro organisms in extreme environments, and geological and geophysical field deployment. These facilities enable addressing questions from fundamental field geology to assessing anthropological versus natural processes in driving climate change. Find out more about research facilities.


Geology at St Andrews provides outstanding field-based training. Students have the opportunity to take 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 field trips that are part of the BSc Environmental Earth Sciences degree include:

  • First year: the five-day “Highland Fling” to renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Second year: six days of geological mapping in central Spain, examining multiple phases of continental collision and mountain building.
  • Third year: twelve days of mapping the iconic Moine Thrust system and Caledonian igneous complexes in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Fourth year: a two-week transect of the Alpine orogenic belt through northern Italy and central Switzerland.

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 Geology.

It is possible for students to take a five-year Integrated Masters course in Earth Sciences, allowing you to graduate with a Master of Geology. Find out more about the Integrated Masters degree.

Find out more about studying Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews or vistit the Earth and Environmental Sciences School website


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

In first year, you must complete two compulsory modules, and in second year, you must complete three compulsory modules. At Honours level, you will take seven to eight core modules. Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules alongside other optional modules in Geology or in another subject:

  • 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. Honours modules that have been offered in past years include:

  • Advanced Geological Mapping
  • Sedimentary Systems
  • Geochemistry
  • Petroleum Exploration and Geophysics
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology.

In your final year you will also undertake an independent research dissertation involving field and laboratory work and research presentations.

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 and undertaking analyses, and student-led investigative research.

The BSc in Geology 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 Geology through optional modules and by conducting your own research projects.


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. 


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 School and 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.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Geology as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Your future


The School is proactive in developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. There is a wide variety of career options for Geology graduates in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors. For some graduates, it is a stepping stone to pursuing postgraduate education and research.

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

Recent employers of Geology graduates include:

  • BHP Billiton
  • BP
  • Shell
  • British Geological Survey
  • Chevron
  • Maersk Oil Ltd
  • Nexen Ltd
  • Neftex
  • Red Rock Mining
  • Fugro
  • Geotechnics Ltd
  • Axmin Inc.

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 Geological 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 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 Sciences
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0) 1334 46 3940

Earth and Environmental Sciences website