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Study information

Mining Geology (2023)

1. Programme Title:

Mining Geology

NQF Level:


2. Description of the Programme (as in the Business Approval Form)

This programme is designed to provide advanced specialised training for earth science graduates, leading to excellent employment opportunities in the extractive industry. Taught modules are presented over two semesters and individual projects are undertaken throughout the summer vacation, often as industrial placements with a mining/exploration company. The programme will add important knowledge and skill sets to deliver qualified geologists to work in the national and international exploration and mining sectors and provide transferable skills for use in the broader geotechnical/construction/environmental industry sectors.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The programme aims to produce competent and confident professional geoscientists who can practise effectively as Mining Geologists, working in the metalliferous ores or industrial minerals sectors, having acquired advanced skills and knowledge in the formation, discovery, extraction, processing and environment impact of the Earth’s mineral resources. The MSc graduate is able to apply the acquired skills to enable our essential solid earth materials to be extracted in an efficient, safe and sustainable manner consistent with the modern needs of industry and the 21st Century requirement for minimising environmental impact, both in short and long terms. Although the aim of the programme is vocational, it also provides advanced training in many subject specific and generic skills needed for further postgraduate research, such as literature reviews, work with and evaluation of datasets and the production of scientific reports. In addition, the programme develops transferable skills sought by employers, including project management and planning, presentational skills, verbal and written communication, and teamwork.

4. Programme Structure

Your MSc Mining Geology programme is a (1) year programme of study at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level (7) (as confirmed against the FHEQ.  The programme is divided into units of study called ‘modules’ which are assigned a number of ‘credits’. The credit rating of a module is proportional to the total workload, with 1 credit being nominally equivalent to 10 hours of work.


Interim Awards

If you do not complete the programme you may be able to exit with a lower qualification.

Postgraduate Diploma: At least 120 credits of which 90 or more must be at level M.

Postgraduate Certificate: At least 60 credits of which 45 or more must be at level M.


5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme. Details of the modules currently offered may be obtained from the College web site

You may take Option Modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module. Descriptions of the individual modules are given in full on the College web site


Stage 1

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
CSMM047Research Project and Dissertation60YesYes
CSMM083Resource Estimation15YesNo
CSMM195Ore Deposit Geology15YesNo
CSMM110Techniques in Mining Geology30YesNo
CSMM130Excavation and Geomechanics 15YesNo
CSMM222Decision-making for Engineers and Scientists15YesNo
CSMM135Economics, Processing & Environment15YesNo
CSMM904CSM Professionalism MSc0YesYes
Choose 15 credits of optional modules:
CSMM220Mining the Future15NoNo
CSMM185Soil and Water Contamination15NoNo

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning & Assessment Methods

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to: Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be accommodated & facilitated by the following learning & teaching and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

A Specialised Subject Skills & Knowledge

Subject knowledge and understanding of:

1. Describe and identify the field expression of various ore and mineral forming processes and styles of mineralisation.

2. Recognise and use geological and production data presented on mine plans, sections and projections. Apply appropriate collection methods for such data and undertake its presentation and evaluation.

3. Recognise ore and gangue minerals  and place them in context of larger mineralising systems.

4. Understand the geological framework of regions in the world, and appreciate the factors that influence the development of extractive industries.

5. Understand, evaluate and apply key exploration methods and demonstrate how they are devised.

6. Understand, evaluate and discuss the geological framework behind resource estimation, and gain skills in manual and computerised orebody modelling.

7. Understand the conversion of resources to reserves for mine production and identify methods for grade control.

8. Understand the common methods used in mine development, including familiarisation with open pit and underground mining. Understand the need for safety in mining environments and operations

9. Understand the basic principles of mineral economics, and the financial appraisal of mining operations and apply these to a case study.

10. Know the main methods for mineral processing, and understand the importance of processing in creating a saleable product.

11. Understand the effect of mining on the environment, and the planning of mining operations to minimise the environmental impact.

12. Understand the role of ore bearing fluids in the genesis of ore deposits, and identify and explain the major controls on mineralisation.

13. Know the key characteristics of the major metalliferous ore and industrial mineral deposit types and predict how these will effect exploration, evaluation and exploitation.

14. Compare and contrast the various exploration techniques, mining methods and mineral processing routes available for exploiting a deposit depending on its physical and spacial characteristics.

15. Understand the role of sedimentary processes in the creation of mineral deposits of economic value. Identify the petrological and mineralogical differences between deposits of metal ores and industrial minerals.

16. Understand, apply and gain experience in various field-based and laboratory techniques for the acquisition, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data obtained in the exploration and evaluation of industrial rocks and minerals.

17. Have a theoretical knowledge and some practical experience of advanced techniques for the analysis of rocks and minerals, and be able to criticise analytical data in the context of exploration and mining scenarios.

18. Have knowledge of the major types of industrial rocks and minerals, with the ability to relate their geology, mineralogy and properties to their uses.

19. Understand the nature of the world market for industrial rocks and minerals, and to have an in-depth knowledge of several industrial mineral markets.

20. Apply a range of academic and practical skills to execute a research project related to mining geology.


Learning & Teaching Activities

Material is introduced by lectures and directed reading/research and students are given very clear guidance in how to manage their learning. Understanding is developed and consolidated by laboratory and private study exercises, carried out individually and in groups, both self-assessed and tutor marked to provide rapid feedback. Project work is used extensively to integrate material and make knowledge functional.

1, 4, 11, 13 are supported by lectures in several modules and fieldwork including an overseas visit to a major world mining region. 2, 5, 6 and 7 are supported by a module in mineral resource estimation and grade control, which involves a large number of case histories, and data manipulation by the student. 3, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 are supported by extensive practical work using the rock and mineral collections at CSM, the laboratory analytical facilities and underground field stations. 8, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 19 are acquired largely through lectures, directed reading, and mini-project reports. 11 is supported by a specialist lecture programme and fieldwork. 20, is supported by a 5 month independent research project. Several other subject specific skills are also supported by the research project.

7 - 11 are acquired in parts of several modules, and are an important part of the research project and dissertation. 9 and 10 are especially important for the module Techniques in Mining Geology and in the Research Project and Dissertation.

Assessment Methods

Direct assessment is through several formal written examinations, both open and closed book, and marked coursework in the form of problem sheets, laboratory reports, reports/essays, a group project and poster based on directed reading and research. The research project is assessed by the supervisor, independent member of staff and the external examiner.

Practical skills are assessed in part through laboratory reports throughout the year in the Techniques in Mining Geology Module and others.


B Academic Discipline Core Skills & Knowledge

Intellectual (thinking) skills – able to:

1. Demonstrate a systematic and creative approach to problem solving.

2. Recognise, explain and apply a wide range of techniques for the acquisition, analysis, interpretation and presentation of geo-scientific data.

3. Understand the role of the mining geologist in a wider management context.

4. Understand, discuss and evaluate the importance of earth resources to an economy, and issues of sustainability in mining.

5. Understand the importance of making scientific observations, recognising similarities between these and stated models and using these observations to determine or support interpretations.

6. Take personal responsibility for acting in a professional and ethical manner.

Practical skills – able to:

7. Select and use appropriate ICT based tools for evaluation of data (numeric and spacial).

8. Select and use laboratory instrumentation appropriately and correctly.

9. Critically appraise the quality of data coming from analytical instrumentation.

10. Undertake fieldwork independently in different terrains, anticipating problems before they arise.

11. Work safely in laboratory, in the field, underground, and promote safe practice.


Learning & Teaching Activities

All core skills are integrated into each module, and are developed steadily throughout the year. 1, 5 and 6 are especially relevant to the major research project and dissertation. 6 is further developed whilst the student seeks out his/her research project.

Assessment Methods

Analytical and intellectual skills are assessed within all modules through formal written examinations, both open and closed book, and marked coursework in the form of problem sheets, research reports etc. A professional diary and portfolio of work is prepared as part of the assessment process. This reinforces skill 5.

A strong focus of the coursework is placed on report writing, i.e. the description, interpretation, evaluation and discussion of data provided or generated. Most modules (CSMM047, 110, 185 and 083) are coursework/ report-heavy aiming to practise and implement these transferrable academic skills. In addition, a focus of assignments is placed on the critical evaluation and discussion of data and results. This will be reflected by a substantial part of the overall focus, effort and mark  dedicated to the discussion section. 

C Personal / Transferable / Employment Skills & Knowledge

1. Communicate effectively and persuasively using the full range of currently available methods.

2. Manage resources and time.

3. Work as a member of a team.

4. Learn independently, identifying own personal development needs and goals, reflecting on own performance and managing own personal development.

5. Obtain and process information from a wide range of sources, which may be conflicting, analyse it critically and apply this information in engineering


6. Sort, manipulate and present data in a way that facilitates effective analysis and decision-making.

Learning & Teaching Activities

1-5 are acquired through aspects of all modules. 3 is further acquired through group projects, which involve a single report or poster. 1 forms part of the process of the student seeking out a project for the Research Project and Dissertation module, as it involves direct communication with professionals in the mining industry. 5 and 6 likewise are important components of the Research Project and Dissertation. 2 is taught through negotiating with the students and applying deadlines on projects.

Assessment Methods

Assessment of key skills is mostly through written and oral presentations, and through project work. All are assessed as part of the Research Project and Dissertation. 2, in particular, is assessed in several assignments and the Research Project by introduction of a time management KPI of 10% of the overall mark.

7. Programme Regulations


The programme consists of 180 credits with 90 credits taken at each stage where the programme is offered part time.  The pass mark for award of credit in an individual PG module is 50%.

Condonement is the process that allows you to pass a ‘stage’ should you fail to achieve the required number of credits in any stage.

You are required to achieve 180 credits in each stage of the programme. You must have achieved an average mark of at least 50% across the 180 credits of assessment including the marks for any failed and condoned modules. You will not be allowed reassessment in the condoned credit.  Up to 45 credits of failure can be condoned in a stage. However, you must pass the modules marked with a 'Yes' in the 'non-condonable' column in the tables above. The pass mark for these modules is 50%.

Assessment and Awards

The award will normally be based on at least 180 credits of which 150 or more must be at level M

The MCSM award will depend on successful attendance and passing of the CSMM904 Professionalism module.


The marking of modules and the classification of awards broadly corresponds to the following percentage marks:

Postgraduate Degrees

Distinction   70%+

Merit            60-69%

Pass            50-59%

Full details of  PGT programmes assessment regulations can be found in the Teaching Quality Assurance Manual (TQA) on the University of Exeter website.  Generic marking criteria are also published here.

Please see the Teaching and Quality Assurance Manual for further guidance.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

Personal and Academic tutoring: It is University policy that all Colleges should have in place a system of academic and personal tutors. The role of academic tutors is to support you on individual modules; the role of personal tutors is to provide you with advice and support for the duration of the programme and extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. You can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff.

Students have access to good computing and library facilities at Tremough. Computer-based exercises and web-based learning materials are a feature of the programme, which can be accessed via the internet. IT Services provide a range of central services, including open and training clusters of PCs (available on a 24/7 basis) within the Centre. Network access is available from all rooms in the hall of residence on site. On the Tremough campus in Cornwall, the Learning Resource Centre contains a library of 70,000 volumes and some specialist collections. In addition, students have full access to the central University of Exeter library, including the electronic library resources.

Online Module study resources provide materials for modules that you are registered for, in addition to some useful subject and IT resources. Generic study support resources, library and research skills, past exam papers, and the 'Academic Honesty and Plagiarism' module are also available through the student portal (

Student/Staff Liaison Committee enables students and staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.


10. Admission Criteria

 All applications are considered individually on merit. The University is committed to an equal opportunities policy with respect to gender, age, race, sexual orientation and/or disability when dealing with applications. It is also committed to widening access to higher education to students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Candidates must satisfy the general admissions requirements of the University of Exeter.


11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice.  See the University's TQA Manual for details.


12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

Certain programmes are subject to accreditation and/ or review by professional and statutory regulatory bodies (PSRBs).
The MSc Mining Geology programme is accredited by the Geological Society. A degree in an accredited programme will normally qualify the holder for admission to Fellowship of the Society and for the award of Chartered Geologist (CGeol) or Chartered Scientist (CSci) status after a specified period of professional development and relevant experience. Accredited status provides added assurance to prospective students that a department teaching is of the highest quality, and has been approved by an independent body of academics and industrialists. See for further information.
Accreditation is awarded for a maximum of 6 years under each assessment exercise. The dates applicable to the current accreditation of this degree programme can be viewed on the Geological Society list of accredited degrees:
14 Awarding Institution University of Exeter
15 Lead College / Teaching Institution College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences, Camborne School of Mines
16 Partner College / Institution
17 Programme accredited/validated by Natural Environment Research Council
18 Final Award(s) MSc
19 UCAS Code (UG programmes) C49W
20 NQF Level of Final Awards(s): 7
21 Credit (CATS and ECTS) 180 credits (90 ECTS)
22 QAA Subject Benchmarking Group (UG and PGT programmes) Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies
23 Origin Date February 8th 2023 Last Date of Revision: February 8th 2023