MESci Environmental Geoscience (International)Environmental Geoscience (International) logo

Cardiff University, Cardiff

What determines the nature of the surface of the Earth, both physically and biologically, temporally and spatially, and what impact have humans had upon it? This is the sort of question that our Environmental Geoscientists are trained to answer.

The MESci builds upon the equivalent BSc programme by means of a fourth year which enables you to undertake a specialist research project in the area of your choice – and the MESci (International) programme also allows you to undertake your third year of study at an overseas university. The marks you gain at that university then count towards your Cardiff University degree.

This programme is designed for high-quality candidates who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

Set in an outstanding natural landscape which has been subject to a long and heavily polluting industrial history, South Wales offers study sites that include not only upland geomorphology and coastal environments but also landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence, making Cardiff an excellent place to study Environmental Geoscience.

It is an applied degree that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to landscape evolution, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

Fieldwork is an integral part of our degrees, giving you hands-on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching.

As well as fieldwork in South Wales, this scheme currently offers residential trips to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology and to the volcano of Tenerife to study ‘the whole island concept’ linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

For students interested in professional research careers in Environmental Geoscience, the four-year MESci (International) provides a strong basis for investigation and research in this subject.

Distinctive features

A special feature of this course is that the credits and grades for year three of your degree assessment are acquired at an overseas institution.

We have a common first term allowing you to experience aspects of Earth Sciences and Geography before finally deciding upon an honours degree course.

You have the opportunity to undertake residential field courses abroad in year two and the final year which are led by highly research active staff.

A major summer project between years two and three builds on training throughout the year – as an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent project or an independent placement project with a company.

In year four you will complete a master's research dissertation which can widen your career options.

I found the course in Cardiff great fun and learned absolutely loads. It was brilliant value for money when you think about how much teaching and lab work we did. Perhaps most importantly the field trips were unbelievable!

Paddy Staunton, Mesci Environmental Geoscience 2011

Key facts

UCAS CodeF647
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Accreditations Geological Society
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.
Admissions tutor(s)

Entry requirements

For detailed entry requirements see the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences admissions criteria pages.

Typical A level offerAAA. At least two A-levels should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerAAA. WBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level, excluding the two required Science/Maths/Geology/Geography A-levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer35 points, including at least two Sciences at Higher Level.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Tags: Environmental, Geoscience, International

  • Study Mode: Full-time
  • Duration: Not known
  • Fees: £9,000 UK
  • Language: English
  • Foundation: No
  • Placement: No
  • Year Abroad: No
  • Course Code: X24-Y53

This is a full-time four-year programme which follows the BSc route with the equivalent title for the first two years, but with additional small-group teaching on the methodology and philosophy of research. Year three is spent at an overseas university. In year four you will undertake a major research project as well as taking specialised optional modules. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

The programme structure is very flexible. All of our degree programmes share a common first semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in Earth sciences upon which to build. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

You will study the following general topics:  The Sedimentary System; Earth Science Fieldwork; Earth Science Skills; Life Through Time; Earth Materials; Earth and Planetary System Science; Formation of the British Isles; Natural Resources and Energy; Geological Maps, Sections and Structures and Dangerous Earth.

At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of our Earth Science degrees.

Core modules
Module titleModule codeCredits
Earth and Planetary System ScienceEA110120 credits
The Sedimentary SystemEA110210 credits
Dangerous EarthEA110310 credits
Natural Resources and EnergyEA110610 credits
Formation of the British IslesEA110710 credits
Life Through TimeEA110810 credits
Geological Maps, Sections and StructuresEA111010 credits
Earth MaterialsEA111210 credits
Research Tutorial with Earth Science SkillsEA112410 credits
MESci Earth Science FieldworkEA112520 credits

Year two

In year two the modules you will take are chosen to provide a wide knowledge base and transferable skills base to make you as employable as possible in a competitive job market. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

The modules studied in year two range from more ‘applied’ modules that will facilitate your understanding of site-specific geo-environmental issues, such as contaminated land, rock engineering and geo-technics to modules that address more ‘global’ geo-environmental issues.

This provides a base for studies on subjects like climate change and sea level rise, or specialism in biological interaction with past and present environments.

You will study the following general topics:  Field Skills in Environmental Geoscience; Data Acquisition and Analysis; Applied GIS (Geographic Information System); Structural Geology; Geoecology; Catchment Geomorphology; Palaeoecology; Geophysical Exploration; Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and Stratigraphy; Environmental Pollution.

The School provides a range of potential projects. Students often choose or devise projects that relate to geoenvironmental issues close to their homes or that have had an impact on their lives in the past. Often the projects are undertaken with help and advice from local authorities or an environmental agency.

Dedicated environmental training takes place around Easter, and this addresses issues that have not been covered in previous modules. This is also an opportunity for you to start acquiring more specific skills that will be required for your own project work. For example, if you undertake a project that requires you to do geo-chemical analyses, you will be taught the protocols required to work in a modern geo-chemical facility.

Core modules
Module titleModule codeCredits
Data Acquisition and AnalysisEA210110 credits
PalaeoecologyEA210610 credits
Geophysical ExplorationEA210710 credits
Structural GeologyEA210810 credits
GeoecologyEA211310 credits
Environmental PollutionEA211610 credits
Environmental Geoscience Field Skills and Research TutorialEA212020 credits
Applied GISEA213010 credits
Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and StratigraphyEA213520 credits
Catchment GeomorphologyEA214010 credits

Year three

You may undertake a research project during your year overseas, usually on a one-to-one basis with an international research expert in the host institution. You will also be able to enrol in modules  overseas that are unavailable at Cardiff. You will acquire a wide range of transferable skills and the additional experience will improve your employability and prospects of postgraduate studies.

Our partner institutions are increasing all the time but in the past students have gone to the University of Miami, Rutgers University (New Jersey), University of British Colombia, Wyoming University, University of Vermont, the University of Western Australia (Perth) or Macquarie University (Sydney).

Core modules
Module titleModule codeCredits
Research SkillsEA314010 credits
Earth Sciences' International YearEA3198110 credits

Year four

You will complete a master's research dissertation in any Environmental Geoscience related topic that can be supervised in the School. You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor and may interact with a research group.

Since the School is very large and of international research standard, this means you have a wide choice of dissertation topic. Many students develop their own topics and contact a researcher to see if they can supervise it. Alternatively a list of projects is published each year for you to choose from.

In addition to a year four field course and the Research Project module you have a choice of optional modules.

You may also be able to choose year three modules you were unable to take previously as options.

In consultation with staff, you may seek to publish the principal results of your research project in the scientific literature.

Core modules
Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci FieldcourseEA410510 credits
MESci Research ProjectEA412070 credits
Optional modules
Module titleModule codeCredits
Contaminated LandEA410310 credits
Evolution of AntarcticaEA410710 credits
Process Geomorphology - from Source to SinkEA411010 credits
ExtremophilesEA411610 credits
Coastal Science and PolicyEA411710 credits
IPCC: The Physical Science BasisEA412310 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching, delivered by lecturers who are experts in their field. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree courses. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry-focused exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience, environmental geography and water-borne marine geography.

The first semester is common to all degree programmes and you then confirm your chosen course in January of your first year. This offers you a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree or pathway.

Core and advanced knowledge and understanding are acquired via a diverse range of teaching and learning styles including lectures, practicals, seminars, fieldwork, laboratory projects, guided study and small group tutorials with a research scientist.

For the first three years the taught content parallels the relevant BSc degree with additional specialist research training including:

  • in year one a literature review and analysis
  • in year two a research poster
  • in year three (spent overseas) an understanding of how research is formulated, funded and executed.
  • in year four an extended research project.

The fieldwork programme spans all four years and includes both residential and day trips in the UK and abroad.

Year two posters and year four oral presentations of research come together for the annual MESci Research Conference which is open to all staff and students.

How will I be supported?

All students are assigned a personal tutor who will hold regular timetabled tutorials. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree course and will advise you on both academic and pastoral matters.

You will have a nominated supervisor for your major final year project.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments, oral feedback for assessed presentations. 

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • practical assignments
  • essay assignments
  • fieldwork
  • oral presentations
  • dissertation
  • formal examinations.

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods. 

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’.

These include:

  • communicating ideas, principles and theories effectively by oral and written means
  • work effectively in a team and as an individual
  • using the internet, databases, spreadsheets, word processing and graphic packages
  • effective time management and organisational skills
  • a commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in the process of personal development planning and ownership of your own learning
  • problem solving, reliability, loyalty, social conduct, tact, attitude to learning and research, leadership, resilience, decision-making and reasoning.

Based on responses from the 2013-14 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 96% of our graduates were in employment or engaged in further study within six months of graduation, with others taking time out to travel.

Employers included local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Career destinations included the water industry, local authority waste management, environmental adviser in the construction industry, software analyst in surveying, environmental consultant and pollution monitoring.


  • Waste Management
  • Environmental Advisor
  • Software Analyst
  • Surveying
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Pollution Monitoring

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

Specialist equipment for working in the field and any other equipment appropriate for your degree will be provided by the School.

Fieldwork is an integral part of this degree, providing hands-on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give you the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching. You will be out in the field with us during the first week of teaching, taking part in a variety of induction events which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your programme in informal surroundings, meet some of your lecturers away from the constraints of the classroom and see some of our local field areas. Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential field, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and environmental analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree programmes in year two and as an Environmental Geoscience student you will go on a residential trip abroad for geological mapping training and geoecology as well as undertaking an extensive fieldwork programme of day trips around South Wales focusing on geomorphology, ecology, water and the impact of industrialisation. Between year two and year three you will undertake a five-week individual project, training for which will have been undertaken throughout the year. As an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will have supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also have a visit in the field. In your third year you may have opportunities for fieldwork at your host institution. In your fourth year when you are back in Cardiff your residential field trip takes place in an area in the UK or abroad selected by the student cohort. In recent years the MESci field trip has taken place in the northern Pennines, Malta, Ibiza, Sicily, Naples and Southern Spain. Students design and carry out field-based projects to explore their individual research interests with academic staff on hand to direct and help out.



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