BSc Geology

UCAS codeF600
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM
Location Cornwall (Penryn Campus)


Our BSc Geology programme will provide you with a detailed understanding of the Earth, its evolution, processes, systems and resources. You will be ready to tackle many of the world’s important environmental challenges.

The mixture of pure and applied Earth science modules we offer, and the transferable skills you gain, provide you with the ideal mix of skills and experience for employment in many geology-facing sectors and beyond.

We pride ourselves on field teaching delivered by experts specialising in field-based research. You will benefit from the unique opportunity to participate in over sixteen one-day field classes in Cornwall that take advantage of our location’s spectacular geology and its mining heritage, as well as overseas residential trips.

Whilst studying geology with us, you will be part of the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) department on the Penryn campus in Cornwall. CSM has an exceptional international reputation for research-inspired teaching and a proven track-record of providing geoscientists for industry.

Our geology degree programmes are highly flexible; you can switch between certain strands during your studies if your interests change.


Our programmes are accredited by The Geological Society which is the first step on the ladder to Chartered Geologist status after graduation.

£200,000 of scholarships available for 2019

The Camborne School of Mines Trust is awarding scholarships to exceptional applicants to Mining and Geology programmes. Read more »


Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Year 1

The first year is common to all three of our geology programmes and gives you a solid foundation in geology. You will learn about dynamic surface and planetary processes, fossils and palaeontology, Earth’s history, geospatial and geological observations, and minerals – the basic building blocks of all rocks. Modules in quantitative methods and geochemistry underpin more advanced modules in the second and third years. There is development of your field-based data collection skills that aid your development as a geologist. You will undertake nine one-day field classes to iconic locations across Cornwall during terms 1 and 2, and attend a one-week residential field classin Pembrokeshire during early May.

Year 2

The second year is when the educational experience provided by our three geology programmes diverge. On the Geology programme, you will explore how physics is used to investigate the Earth’s subsurface in our geophysics module. You will also develop core geological and transferable skills that build on Year 1 knowledge by learning about sedimentary processes, volcanic and magmatic rocks, how rocks fold and fracture, and geological maps. Your ability to collect and analyse geological data will be further developed through seven one-day field classes, a residential field coursein Devon and Dorset, and training in geological mapping on the Isle of Skye.

The Summer Vacation Project (SVP) is a third-year module that starts in the summer period between second and third year, when you carry out four to five weeks of independent field-based research. Most of our students choose a geological mapping project, which they may do anywhere in the world. Recent examples of destinations include Iceland, Canada, Spain, Norway and the Scottish Highlands. Every year, some of our students choose to carry out their project as part of an industrial work placement embedded in a geosciences-related company. It is also possible for you to do a field-based research project working with one of our world-class research groups. All SVP options are supported through a series of bespoke training sessions, including the use of industry-leading Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. 

Year 3

In year three, you will write up your Summer Vacation Project and develop advanced geological skills in a variety of cutting-edge modules that enhance your employability prospects. The ‘GIS for geologists’ module, a student favourite, provides excellent training for the modern geoscience industry, collating geospatial data in computer-based maps and models. The ‘Geology Overseas Fieldclass’ provides an opportunity to examine an outstanding area of geology famous for its volcanic, sedimentological or geological evolution, and typically cycles between European destinations including Tenerife, Spain, or Italy.

A key aspect of year three teaching is its flexibility: in addition to the core modules you get to tailor your geological development to the topics which interest you most. Choose from a selection of research-inspired inquiry-led modules on continually evolving subjects tackling a variety of global environmental challenges.

Essential course books are available through the library, either in physical or electronic format. In addition to the course tuition fees, students are, however, expected to purchase geological field equipment and pay for printing of coursework. While all compulsory field courses are included in the course fees, students will have to cover travel to and from the UK meeting point. Similar to other UK geology courses, students also have to pay for travel, accommodation and living expenses (typically £1000 - £1500 for a mapping project depending on location and accommodation choices) incurred whilst undertaking fieldwork for the Summer Vacation Project (between the 2nd and 3rd year of study).

The overall mark for your degree will be calculated from the marks for Years 2 and 3, which are weighted in the ratio of 1:2, respectively. Whilst you must pass your first year to progress to Year 2, assessment in Year 1 does not contribute towards the overall mark for your degree programme. Throughout all years of study, you will receive extensive feedback on your performance. Additional support for specialist tuition, employability and pastoral care is provided by University of Exeter Student Services and by a personal academic tutor who is assigned to you at the start of your studies.

If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment is possible. This could include replacing a fieldwork module with an alternative learning experience.

Entry requirements 2020

Typical offer


Required subjects

GCE AL in two science subjects at grade B or AL Geology at grade B; IB two sciences HL5. GCSE Maths grade C or 4
GCE AL science includes: Biology/Human Biology*; Chemistry; Computing; Design and Technology; Electronics; Environmental Studies; Geography; Geology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths*; Physical Education; Physics; Psychology; Science (applied); Statistics.

*If more than one of these is taken they would only count as one 'science' but could count as two A-levels towards our general requirements.

Applicants studying a BTEC Extended Diploma will also require GCE AL in two science subjects at grade B or AL Geology grade B.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements

If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.

International Foundation programmes

Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching are delivered through a combination of lectures, ‘hands on’ practical classes, seminars, tutorials, field-based teaching, and independent study. Laboratory practical classes will develop your understanding of a range of geological topics and help put theory into practice, including the use of specialist microscopes and industry-leading computer software. You will be taught by internationally-recognised, research-active staff, who incorporate their own laboratory, field and industry results into their teaching.

On average you will have 18 teaching hours per week and will need to undertake additional independent study (e.g., directed reading, assignments, and project work). You can expect your total workload to average about 40 hours per week during term time.

A research and practice led culture

You will benefit from being taught by experts active in internationally-relevant research. In doing so, you will discuss the very latest ideas, research discoveries and new technologies in seminars and in the field, and you will become actively involved in a research project yourself. All our academic staff are active in internationally-recognised scientific research across a wide range of topics. You will also be taught by leading industry practitioners.


Assessment methods vary between modules and may include individual or group reports, essays, presentations, practical write-ups and exams. More innovative assessment techniques are also used, and may include the use of websites, social media, videos, science communication, and dragons-den style presentations. You must pass the first year in order to progress to the second year, but your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree classification.



Geology field work video

Students on their final year geology field trip to Spain give an insight into the BSc Geology programme. View full size.

Our Geology degree programmes provide a wealth of practical experience of working in the field. High-quality graduates with strong field-based skills can benefit from excellent graduate employment rates in degree-related and other areas, or an easy transition into further study.

Students must undertake a compulsory* field-based module in each year of study to ensure they are confident using geology field skills

The first year includes a six-day residential field course in Pembrokeshire along with nine one-day field-classes in Cornwall. The second year includes 34 days of fieldwork, in locations that include Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The third year includes a geological fieldcourse in Tenerife, Italy, or southern Spain. Fieldwork is assessed through field notebooks, technical reports, practical field-based assignments, and scientific posters.

For more information on fieldwork please see the module descriptions within each degree programme and our fieldwork pages.

*If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment is possible. This could include replacing a fieldwork module with an alternative learning experience.


We have a dedicated, award-winning Careers Service ensuring you have access to careers advisors, mentors and the tools you need to succeed in finding employment in your chosen field on graduation. We offer the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award which include employability-related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market. Our graduates compete very successfully in the employment market, with many employers targeting the University when recruiting new graduates.

Work placement

In the summer vacation between Years 2 and 3 you will undertake a four-to-five-week project that involves the collection and analysis of geological data. A number of our students take advantage of the department’s strong links with industry and choose to carry out their project as part of a paid or voluntary work placement.

Contact us

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

WebEnquire online
Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Website: Visit the Geology website