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Study information

Engineering Geology and Geotechnics (2023)

1. Programme Title:

Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

NQF Level:


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

The Engineering Geology and Geotechnics programme is a highly vocational geology programme which provides broad based training for students who wish to maximise their employment potential as professional geoscientists, especially in mining, civil engineering and environmental sectors.  It also provides the research skills and experience for students wishing to continue to a further research degree, such as a PhD. 


3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The programme aims to provide broad-based training for students who wish to maximise their potential as professional engineering geologists or geoscientists. Specific emphasis is placed upon inter-relationships between geology, engineering and the environment and this mixture of pure and applied earth science, environmental and engineering modules is appropriate for subsequent employment in sectors such as engineering geology, geotechnics, hydrogeology, environmental geology or minerals production. Particular importance is attached to the use of computer design techniques for rock and soil engineering and groundwater modelling. In addition, the programme aims to develop the personal, transferable skills such as teamwork, project management, numeracy, computer literacy and those associated with verbal and written communication. Whilst many students enrolling upon the programme regard it as a vocational degree, the scientific training received also enables students to consider studying for a higher degree (MSc/PhD). The programme also develops personal and key skills in data analysis, manipulation and interpretation, numerical problem solving, personal time management, team work and group interaction and self-managed and lifelong learning skills.

4. Programme Structure

Your BSc Engineering Geology and Geotechnics programme is a (3) year programme of study at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level (6) (as confirmed against the FHEQ). This programme is divided into (3) ‘Stages’. Each Stage is normally equivalent to an academic year.  The programme is also 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. If you have achieved 120 credits, you may be awarded a Certificate of Higher Education, and if you achieve 240 credits, where at least 90 credits are at level 2 or above, you may be awarded a Diploma of Higher Education.



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
CSM1042Dynamic Planet15YesYes
CSM1031Earth and Environmental Chemistry15YesNo
CSM1043Crystallography, Mineralogy and Gemstones15YesYes
CSM1044Earth History and Palaeontology15YesYes
CSM1036Field Geology and Geological Maps30YesYes
CSM1045Surveying and Digital Mapping15YesNo
CSM1041Quantitative Methods for GeoScientists15YesNo
CSM1904CSM Professionalism Year 10YesYes

Students attend a one week residential field class in Pembrokeshire during Easter Vacation / Term 3 as part of Field Geology and Geological Maps. This module also includes nine, one-day, field classes at localities in Cornwall. At the end of the first stage students also attend a two-week practical surveying course, based on the Cornwall Campus, that is assessed under CSM2184.

Stage 2

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
CSM2182Structural Geology and Tectonics30YesYes
CSM2183Sedimentology and Stratigraphy30YesYes
CSM2184Geological Mapping Techniques15YesYes
CSM2051Magmatic and Metamorphic Rocks15YesYes
CSM2910Magmatism and Metamorphism15YesYes
CSM2904CSM Professionalism Year 20YesYes

There are two periods of residential fieldwork. As part of CSM2182, there are six, one-day, field classes at localities in Cornwall.  As part of CSM2183, a six day geological field class during Term 1 focuses on sedimentary rocks, stratigraphy and the tectonic development of the Wessex Basin (Devon/Dorset) and you also get to go on a half-day field class during this term to look at modern sedimentary environments in Cornwall. An eight- or nine-day field class in Scotland focussed on geological mapping skills takes place during the Easter Vacation (as part of CSM2184).

During the summer vacation students carry out an independent study of at least 24 days duration (assessed under CSM3379). In some cases students obtain an industrial placement or work on a research project.


Stage 3

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
CSM3038Surface Excavation Design15YesNo
CSM3047GIS for Geologists15YesNo
CSM3069Engineering Geology Field Course15YesYes
CSM3379Summer Vacation Project30YesYes
CSM3904CSM Professionalism Year 30YesNo
In addition, students will select modules totalling 30 credits from:
CSM3041Tunnelling and Excavation Design15NoNo
CSM3049Contaminated Land Management and Remediation15NoNo
CSM3151Exploration Techniques15NoNo
CSM2050Safety and Sustainable Development15NoNo

During the Easter vacation students undertake a ten day residential field class in Cyprus or Spain (assessed under CSM3048). The fieldwork provides a synthesis of much of the programme’s syllabus, focusing on applied mapping, geotechnical engineering and environmental impact.

Assessment at Stage 1 is formative and does not contribute towards the overall mark for the degree programme, although an overall pass is necessary for progression to Stage 2. The overall mark for the degree is calculated from the marks for Stages 2 and 3, which are weighted in the ratio of 1:2 respectively.

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

demonstrate understanding of:

1. structure and composition of the solid Earth (core, mantle, crust etc.), the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere and the processes operating within and between them.

2. present and past interactions between these Earth system components and the effects on them of extra-terrestrial influences.

3. contribution of chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology to our understanding of Earth structure, materials and processes.

4. major geoscience paradigms (uniformitarianism, evolution of life as revealed in the fossil record, plate tectonics)

5. geological time, principles of stratigraphy and the stratigraphic column, dating techniques, rates of Earth processes and major events in Earth history, nomenclature and identification of fossils.

6. spatial scales, study of structures, materials and processes ranging from atoms to planets.

7. terminology, classification and identification of minerals and rocks.

8. terminology, nomenclature, identification and classification of geological structures.

9. collection and documentation of geological and geotechnical information in the field, production and interpretation of geological and engineering geology maps.

10. surveying and measurement in field and laboratory contexts, using qualitative, quantitative and instrumental techniques.

11. integrated site investigation and stability analysis for mining and civil engineering projects including waste disposal and land restoration.

12. design applications of geotechnical engineering in civil engineering, mining and tunnelling projects.

13. exploration for, development and exploitation of Earth resources.

14. geological aspects of human impacts on the environment.

15. geohazards and their impacts on human societies.

16. need for multi-disciplinary approach in advancing understanding of Earth systems, sustainability and social awareness.

17. applicability of earth sciences to the work environment.

18. awareness of prior research and data sources.

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 work, private study exercises and, in particular, by field classes. Work is carried out individually and in groups with tutorial support and is both self-assessed and tutor marked to provide feedback. Field work and project work is used extensively to integrate material and make knowledge functional.

1 and 2 are supported explicitly by the Dynamic Planet module in the 1st stage and implicitly by several other modules throughout the programme.

3 is supported explicitly by the Quantitative Methods for Geoscientists and Earth and Environmental Chemistry modules in the 1st stage and then developed by use in other modules throughout the programme.

4 is supported explicitly by the Dynamic Planet module in stage 1 and implicitly by several other 1st and 2nd stage modules.

5 is supported by the stage 1 Earth History and Palaeontology module and then developed by use in various Field Geology and Geological Field Techniques modules.

6 is supported by stage 1 modules in Earth and Environmental Chemistry and Crystallography, Mineralogy and Gemstones and further developed in most stage 2 modules.

7 is supported explicitly by the Crystallography, Mineralogy and Gemstones module in the stage 1 and then by Sedimentology and Stratigraphy and Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology modules during stage 2; the skill is also implicitly supported and developed by the various Field Geology and Field Techniques modules throughout the three stages of the programme.

8 is supported explicitly by stage 2 modules in Structural Geology and Tectonics and Geotechnics and implicitly supported and developed by the various Field Techniques and Field Geology modules throughout the three stages of the programme.

9 is explicitly supported by the stage 1 Field Geology and Geological Maps module, the stage 2 Geotechnics module and by Geological Mapping Techniques and the Engineering Geology Field Course modules. The surveying aspects of 10 are supported explicitly by the 1st stage Surveying and Digital Mapping module and the survey course at the end of stage one (contributing to Geological Mapping Techniques).

10 is also explicitly supported by the laboratory techniques and microscope work undertaken in most of stage 2 modules and implicitly by several other modules. 11 is supported explicitly by the stage 2 Geotechnics module and stage 3 Hydrogeology and Contaminated Land and Remediation modules, together with implicit support from stage 2 and 3 fieldwork modules. 5 and 7-11 are further developed by the Summer Vacation Project at the end of stage 2.

11 and 12 are explicitly supported by the stage 3 modules in Surface Excavation Design and Tunnelling and Excavation Design.

13 is supported explicitly by stage 3 modules in Hydrogeology and Exploration Techniques.

14 is explicitly supported by the stage 3 Engineering Geology Field Course module and implicitly by various modules throughout the programme. 13 and 14 can be further developed according to the optional modules selected in stage 3.

15 is explicitly supported by the 2nd stage Geotechnics module and the stage 3 Engineering Geology Field Course module.

16 is introduced in the stage 1 Dynamic Planet module and implicitly supported by a large number of subsequent modules throughout the programme, as is 17.

17 is explicitly supported by the stage 3 Summer Vacation Project and various visits to extractive industry and civil engineering sites throughout the programme.

18 is explicitly supported in the stage 3 Summer Vacation Project and implicitly by most modules throughout the programme.

Assessment Methods

Direct assessment is through a range of formal written examinations, both open and closed book, and marked coursework in the form of problem sheets, laboratory reports and reports based on directed reading/research. Field work based modules are a major component of the overall programme assessment; the assessment here is based on field notebooks, field slips, geological and geotechnical maps and associated reports. Project work is assessed through a combination of supervisor's report, self and peer assessment and formal assessment of final reports and presentations.

B Academic Discipline Core Skills & Knowledge

Intellectual skills – able to:

1. recognise and use subject-specific theories, paradigms and concepts.

2. critically analyse, synthesise and summarise information, including published research.

3. collect and integrate lines of evidence to formulate/test hypotheses.

4. apply knowledge and understanding to address problems.

5. recognise the moral/ethical issues of investigations and appreciate the need for professional codes of conduct.

Practical skills – able to:

6. plan, conduct and report on investigations.

7. collect, record and analyse data using appropriate field and laboratory techniques.

8. work in a safe and responsible manner in field and laboratory.

9. design/undertake investigations paying due attention to risk assessment and relevant health and safety regulations.

10. reference work in an appropriate manner.

Learning & Teaching Activities

1-4 are integrated into most modules and developed steadily throughout the 3 stages; in particular, 2-4 are developed during stage 2 and 3fieldwork and project-based modules. 5 is developed by use in modules throughout the programme and specifically applied in the Summer Vacation Project.

6-8 are introduced in a number of 1st stage modules and more fully developed in all of stage 2 modules, where extensive field data collection and laboratory work is carried out as an integral part of the modules. 9 is introduced in stage 1 and 2 modules, more fully developed in the various stage 3 modules. 10 is developed throughout the three stages of the programme.

Assessment Methods

Problem solving, analytical and synthesis skills are assessed within many modules through a range of formal written examinations, both open and closed book, and marked coursework. These skills are primarily shown, however, in project work and fieldwork modules in stages 2 and 3, culminating in the Summer Vacation Project (assessed via written report and field documents, verbal presentation).

The practical skills are assessed in part through laboratory reports and logbooks throughout stages 1 and 2, but mainly through the fieldwork modules in stages 2 and 3 and the design and project modules in the stage 3, where they are used extensively.

C Personal / Transferable / Employment Skills & Knowledge

1 . receive and respond to a variety of information styles (written, verbal and graphic) and communicate in these styles to different audiences, including use of the Internet.

2. appreciate issues of sample selection and data quality in scientific studies.

3. manipulate, interpret and present data using appropriate techniques and packages.

4. solve numerical problems using computer and non-computer based techniques.

5. work in a team, identifying and recognising individual and collective opinions and roles and evaluating performance of all members.

6. develop self-managed and lifelong learning skills (target setting, time and project management, reflective practice).

7. develop a flexible approach to study and work.

Learning & Teaching Activities

1 and 3 are specifically introduced throughout the programme with regular oral and written presentations of work.

2 is explicitly covered in stage 2 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geotechnics and 3rd stage Exploration Techniques modules as well as being implicitly developed in other modules.

3 and 4 are introduced in the stage 1 Quantitative Methods for Geoscientists module, further developed in a number of the 2nd stage modules and specifically applied in many of the stage 3 modules (e.g., Tunnelling and Excavation Design, Engineering Geology Design Project).

5 is developed through laboratory and group work in many modules, including fieldwork exercises and may be explicitly developed in the Summer Vacation Project.

6 and 7 are initially developed in the 1st stage with students being required to carry out regular reviews of their own progress, upon which they get formal feedback through the tutorial system. Further development occurs throughout the programme, particularly in the Summer Vacation and Engineering Geology Design projects which require a large element of independent study.

Assessment Methods

Assessment of key skills occurs throughout the entire programme, mostly through items of coursework in the form of written and oral presentations, field notebooks and maps, vivas and project reports.

1-4 are implicitly assessed in all modules and explicitly assessed in modules such as Quantitative Methods for Geoscientists, Field Geology and Geological Maps, Structural Geology and Tectonics, Sedimentology, and Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology.

5 is implicitly assessed in group work throughout the programme and explicitly in Geological Mapping Techniques (Summer Survey Course) and Engineering Geology Field Course.

6 and 7 are implicit in much of all students’ study but are explicitly tested in stage 2 and 3 fieldwork and project modules

7. Programme Regulations


The programme consists of 360 credits with 120 credits taken at each stage. Normally not more than 75 credits would be allowed in any one term. In total, students normally take no more than 150 credits at level 1, and must take at least 90 credits at level 3.

The pass mark for award of credit in an individual module is 40%.


You can progress to the next stage (or in the final year, to proceed to the award of an honours degree) once at least 90 credits have been passed in a stage, and provided that an average of at least 40% has been achieved over the 120 credits of assessment for that stage.


This programme is accredited by a PSRB under licence from the Engineering Council. Therefore, the latest Engineering Council regulations on condonement apply to this programme. Please find further details in the TQA Manual here:


Assessment and Awards

Assessment at stage one does not contribute to the summative classification of the award. The award will normally be based on the degree mark formed from the credit-weighted average marks for stages 2 and 3 combined in the ratio 1:2 respectively.


Full details of assessment regulations for UG programmes  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.

To obtain the award of Associate of CSM (ACSM) the student must attend and complete the zero-credit-bearing modules CSM1904, CSM2904 and CSM3904.


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 on Penryn Campus. 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 Penryn 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 & 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 BSc (Hons) Engineering Geology and Geotechnics 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) status after a specified period of professional development and relevant experience. Accredited status provides added assurance to prospective students that a department's 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, and Physical Sciences - Camborne School of Mines
16 Partner College / Institution
17 Programme accredited/validated by The Geological Society
18 Final Award(s) BSc (Hons)
19 UCAS Code (UG programmes) F644
20 NQF Level of Final Awards(s): 6
21 Credit (CATS and ECTS) 360 credits (180 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: March 7th 2024