Earth Science and Engineering

Learn how to find and responsibly exploit petroleum resources in this professionally accredited integrated Master's degree.

Key information




4 years


Typical offer

Three A-level offer: AAA–A*AA

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

4.1 : 1

Based on 2015 application data

Professionally accredited

Read about this course's accreditation

  • UCAS course code: F663
  • ECTS: 270
  • Start date: October 2018

Summer School

Applications now open for 2017 Global Summer School.


The principal challenge facing the world’s growing population is how to maintain sustainable access to the natural resources – water, energy and food – that are necessary for us to enjoy a good quality of life, while protecting the environment.

The science and engineering behind understanding and solving this challenge lie at the heart of earth science, an interdisciplinary subject which encompasses physics, chemistry, mathematics and other sciences. It can be applied to the study of Earth to give us an understanding of how our planet works, from its internal core, crust and oceans, to the atmosphere and our solar system.

All our courses combine a strong traditional emphasis on observational and field skills with the numerical and analytical fundamental science required to understand Earth processes and systems quantitatively. 

We also emphasise the development of transferable professional skills such as group working, problem-solving, drawing inferences from incomplete data, IT, and oral and written communication. You can expect a balance between theory and practice, including a variety of field trips in the UK and abroad.

Study programme

Petroleum geoscience uses a fundamental understanding of the Earth and its past to locate and responsibly exploit petroleum resources with minimal environmental impact, making it key to the world's energy future.

This course will provide you with in-depth knowledge of issues facing the petroleum sector, as well as interdisciplinary skills in physics, maths, chemistry, engineering and the geosciences to give you an understanding of present challenges and possible solutions.

Your study reaches Master's level in the fourth year, with advanced modules, a specialist field trip, and a substantial independent research project. This means that you will require fewer years of work experience than graduates of our BSc degrees to apply for Chartership of the Geological Society (see Professional accreditation).

Field work

Student on a field tripWe place emphasis on field work across all our courses. It is a great way to apply your knowledge to the real world and learn essential observational and practical skills.

Our field trips are designed to help you gain experience of identifying rocks and interpreting the physical (including tectonic) processes that may have been involved in their formation.

You will also have the chance to gain experience in using technical equipment.

Depending on which course you choose, you could spend over 100 days in the field as part of your course. This can range from spending a couple of days along the Dorset coast to 10 days in the Pyrenees or Cyprus. Students on Geology courses (and some students on Geology and Geophysics) spend six weeks mapping the geology of areas such as the: Greek Cycladees, French Massif Central, Pyrenees, French Alps, North West Scotland, and others.

Transfer between courses

All of our courses follow a similar syllabus for the first two years. This high level of shared content means you may transfer between all our Geology and Geophysics courses up to the start of spring term in the first year if you meet the original entry requirements for the course you want to transfer to. As a result, you are encouraged to only apply for one course within the department.

Transfer onto our Year Abroad courses is not normally possible, as places at our partner institutions are limited.

If you are an international student, transferring to a different course could have an impact on your Tier 4 visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.


Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Year 1

Theory 1

  • Dynamic Earth 1
  • Earth Materials and Stratigraphy
  • Maths Methods 1
  • Physical Processes

Theory 2

  • Igneous and Metamorphic Processes
  • Surface Processes
  • Solid Earth Geochemistry
  • Life and Earth History


  • Optical Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Programming for Geoscientists
  • Structural Geology 1
  • Graphics and Statistics for Geoscientists


  • Earth Materials and Stratigraphy
  • Introduction to Field Geology
  • Field Geology 1
  • Projects, Tutorials and Workshops 1

Year 2

Theory 1

  • Applied Geophysics 1
  • Global Geophysics
  • Igneous 1
  • Sedimentary Geology

Theory 2

  • Earth Resources
  • Low Temperature Geochemistry
  • Palaeontology or Maths Methods 2
  • Structural Geology


  • Metamorphic 1
  • Rocks Master Class
  • Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Structural Geology 2


  • Field Geology 2
  • Field Geology 3
  • Projects, Tutorials and Workshops 2

Year 3


You choose four modules from the list below:

  • Basins and Tectonics
  • Climate
  • Ice and Fire
  • Seismic Techniques
  • Solar System Geoscience

Independent project and ESS

  • Independent Geology Project
  • Earth Science Synthesis

Coursework, practical and synopsis

  • Earth Science General Paper
  • EPEX Business Simulation
  • Hydrogeology & Fluid Flow 1

Optional modules

You choose six modules in total from the below lists:

Offered every year
  • Dynamic Stratigraphy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Mining Water and Waste Management
  • Thermodynamics
Alternate year 1
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Igneous 2
  • Impact Cratering
  • Marine Stratigraphy
  • Minerals Processing
  • Palaeoceanography
Alternate year 2
  • Advanced Applied Geophysics
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Earth Systems
  • Geodynamics
  • Geohazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrothermal and ore forming processes
  • Palaeo and Environmental magnetism
  • Physical Oceanography
Business and Humanities

You also have the choice of modules from Imperial Horizons and Imperial College Business School to broaden your studies.

Year 4


  • Reservoir Characterisation Fieldtrip & Group Project
  • Exploration Geoscience Group Project - "Barrel Award"
  • US Fieldtrip


  • Production Geoscience
  • Petrophysics & Seismic Techniques
  • Basin Analysis & Tectonics
  • Applied Sedimentology
  • Exploration Geoscience

During the study of Production Geoscience you cover: Development Geology, Geostatistics, Petroleum Engineering, Hydrocarbon Reserves, Faults and Fractures and have a field trip to North Somerset.

Exploration Geoscience covers Petroleum Systems, Seismic Interpretation, Resource Plays, Play Fairway Analysis and a fieldtrip to Derbyshire.

Independent project

Your independent project will form 25% of your fourth year and should be based in a relevant area suited to your interests.

Professional accreditation

This degree leads to a Master's level qualification and is professionally accredited by the Geological Society of London.

Achieving a professionally accredited degree demonstrates to employers that you have achieved an industry-recognised standard of competency. It also brings international recognition of your qualification, which is particularly useful for students preparing for a career abroad.

As professionally accredited qualifications, our MSci courses in Earth Science reduce the number of years of post-graduation experience you need in order to register as a Chartered Geologist (CGeol). This is a highly respected qualification earned by professionals working in the geosciences industries, which can lead to higher earning potential and better career prospects.

Our accreditation agreement with The Geological Society is renewed every six years.

The current accreditation agreement is due to be renewed for students starting their studies in the 2017–18 academic year. The Department expects to be accredited into the future.


As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal School of Mines on completion of this course.

The Royal School of Mines is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.

Find out more about our Associateships.

Teaching and assessment


Our Geology courses are both theoretical and practical, and teaching will be enhanced by fieldwork throughout your degree.

You can expect the following teaching methods:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Field work
  • Group exercises
  • Laboratory work


There are a number of different assessment methods for this course including:

  • Written Examination
  • Coursework
  • Reports
  • Poster presentation
  • Seminar
  • Vivas

Staff expertise

For each module you will have a designated coordinator, who will be a teaching fellow, lecturer, senior lecturer or professor.

You receive tutorial time with post-doctoral research assistants/fellows, who will themselves be researching specialised areas of geology and geophysics, with a depth of subject knowledge and experience of study to share.

As you progress through your degree, the areas covered become specialised and more advanced. Towards the end of your studies modules are taught by senior lecturers, professors and experts in the field.

Compare this course

See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions using the Unistats Key Information Set (KIS).

You can use the KIS to find out how this course compares in areas such as the proportion of time spent in timetabled teaching and independent study, how the course is assessed, student satisfaction and what our graduates are doing six months after completing this course.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.

For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.


Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made in 2016 to at least 85% of applicants studying A-levels was AAA–A*AA.

Subject and grade requirements (2018 entry)

We expect applicants for 2018 entry to offer at least two of the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Grade A in GCSE Mathematics (or equivalent) is also required.

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.

Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)

If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made in 2016 to at least 85% of applicants studying IB was 38–39 points overall.

Subject and grade requirements (2018 entry)

We expect applicants for 2018 entry to achieve 6 at higher level in each of three subjects, with at least two of these subjects coming from the following list:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Grade A in GCSE Mathematics (or equivalent) is also required.

Please note the International Baccalaureate entry requirement has changed since the print prospectus was published in December 2016.

Advanced Placements

Our minimum requirement for this course three subjects from below at grade 5:

  • Calculus (AB or BC)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Selection process

Assessing your application

Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant.

Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones. It is the College’s policy to not make offers below three A’s at A-level in relevant subjects, 38 IB points with at least a grade 6 at higher level in relevant subjects, or their equivalent.

A typical range of offers made by this Department in 2016 (encompassing at least 85% of applicants who studied A-level or IB) is shown above.

Post-application open day and interview

If your UCAS application indicates that you are likely to satisfy our requirements and you live within reasonable travelling distance of the College you will be invited for an interview.

You will be introduced to the Department, the staff, our courses, teaching facilities and methods and life at College through meeting our current students. You will have a one-to-one interview with a member of the academic staff. For overseas applicants, or those unable to visit, we may arrange a telephone interview.

We place great emphasis on interview and take other qualities as well as academic ability into account when deciding whether to make you an offer. We will also take the comments of the staff member who has met you or spoken to you by telephone into account, particularly when we decide after A-levels whether to confirm our offer should you marginally fail to meet the terms of your offer.

English language qualifications (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students who apply for this course.

For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.

Tuition fees and funding

We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.

Tuition fees (Home and EU students)

2017 entry
£9,250 per year

The above fee applies to the academic year 2017–18 only. This is the maximum rate of tuition chargeable by institutions that achieved a ‘meet expectations’ award under the first year of the UK government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

In its TEF: Year Two specification guidance document, the government confirmed that all institutions achieving a Bronze rating or higher in Year Two will be able to charge the maximum capped amount. These ratings will be announced in spring 2017.

You should expect the fee to increase for each year that your course lasts, subject to UK government regulations on fee increases.

We expect EU students will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition as long as the UK remains in the EU, and for the duration of their course, provided this remains lawful.

Government funding

If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course. You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.

The government has confirmed that EU students entering university in the UK in 2017 and 2018 also have access to the Tuition Fee Loan for the duration of their course. This will remain the case even if their course finishes after the UK's exit from the European Union.

Tuition fees (Islands and Overseas students)

2017 entry
£27,750 per year

The above fee applies to the academic year 2017–18 only. The fee for the 2018–19 academic fee has not yet been set by the College. We will update this page as soon as this fee information is available so please check back before submitting an application for 2018 entry.

Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year.

Additional course costs

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study which have to be budgeted for in addition to tuition fees and living expenses. This section provides examples of these and it is possible that all, or some, of these will be relevant to you.

Please note that the cost figures given are based on what such costs were in previous academic years and these are likely to change year to year. However, it is useful for you to be aware of the types of things you may have to pay for and their cost in previous years.

This section details whether the additional costs are essential or optional. Essential costs are highlighted as costs that you will need to pay to fully participate and complete your studies. Optional costs are not essential to your studies and you will be free to opt out of these.

DescriptionMandatory/optionalGuide to cost
Field trip (independent mapping project) Mandatory for all Geology students and some Geology and Geophysics students Variable
Field trips (travel and accommodation on other field trips) Mandatory Included in tuition fee
Field trips (all fully catered trips) Mandatory £25 per week
Geological equipment Mandatory £70 (refundable)
Personal Protective Equipment Mandatory Provided
Please review the information below for more information on the costs listed in the table.

Field trips

Please note that all field trips referenced on this page are included in the cost of tuition, except for a contribution to food costs on fully catered trips (currently approx. £25/week) and the Year 2 independent mapping project which Geology students and some Geology and Geophysics students, undertake in a location of their choice. Costs vary by location.

Geological equipment

You can purchase or hire geological equipment from the Department. In the 2016-17 academic year students paid £70 for Compass-clinometer, Hand lens and Geological Hammer. If they wish, students can return these in reasonable condition at a point later in their degree programme when they are no longer needed for a refund of the same amount.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing personal protective equipment is compulsory for some activities on this course. Where this applies, the Department of Earth Science and Engineering will provide you with the necessary PPE free of charge.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

Over 90 per cent of Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.


The growing importance of earth science in tackling some of the world’s most significant challenges means that the job prospects for our graduates have never been better.

Our three-year BSc degrees are excellent preparation for careers in geosciences and other professions, especially if followed by a relevant MSc and a research degree. Our four-year MSci degrees provide a deeper understanding of the subject and the chance to undertake a significant research project.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Graduate Environmental Scientist, Mott MacDonald
  • Environmental Advisor, BP
  • Geologist, CD Capital / Prairie Mining
  • Geosolutions Geophysicist, Schlumberger
  • Research Assistant, Natural History Museum

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: F663
  • UCAS institution code: I50

UCAS Apply system

To apply to study at Imperial you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Application deadlines

All applications, other than those which include choices for medicine at Imperial, must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2018 for entry in October 2018.

The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2018 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2017.

Tracking your application

Once you’ve completed and submitted your application through UCAS’s online Apply service, you can use UCAS’ Track system to follow its progress and manage your choices.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:

Contact us

Students on field trip

Got a question?

Dr Lorraine Craig
T: +44 (0)20 7594 7337

Read more on the Department of Earth Science and Engineering website.

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