BSc (Hons) Geology

Geology is the study of the world beneath your feet - it's the course to choose if you want to really understand how the planet, the landscape and life have changed over billions of years.

Geology is concerned with the Earth's origin, structure, composition and history, as well as the physical, chemical and biological processes that have formed it. By graduation, you'll understand relevant scientific principles and how to apply them to a huge range of geological questions and problems.

You'll explore diverse topics, including how to describe, analyse and interpret rocks, how volcanoes are formed, how ice ages originate, how mountains form, how to search for oil and gas, and what Britain was like 500 million years ago. Petroleum Experts Ltd (Petex) has also donated 10 licences of the MOVE software suite, the commercial equivalent of which is £1,341,961.89 to support our teaching and learning.

Our Geology course emphasises applied geology, so you will learn vital skills for the workplace, including geographical information systems (GIS), geological mapping, and analysis of geological materials. We pride ourselves on offering some of the most extensive fieldwork of any UK university geology course, at locations in the UK and overseas, which currently include Azores and Spain. Follow us on Twitter.

2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
F600 Full-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A

In the first year of the Geology degree, you will gain basic geological knowledge and scientific background. In years two and three, you will enjoy more detailed study and develop practical and transferable skills.

Year One: Geology degree

  • The Dynamic Earth - 20 credits
  • Rocks, Minerals and Fossils  - 20 credits
  • Basic Field Geology 1 (Pembrokeshire Field Excursion) - 20 credits
  • Landform Systems - 20 credits
  • Introduction to Data Analysis and GIS - 20 credits
  • Geological Research Techniques - 20 credits

Year Two: Geology degree

  • The Evolving Earth - 20 credits
  • Sedimentology - 20 credits 
  • Structural Geology - 20 credits
  • Petrology - 20 credits
  • Geological Expedition (Almeria, Spain) - 20 credits
  • Digital Mapping for Geology - 20 credits

Year Three: Geology degree

  • Resource Geology - 20 credits
  • Geophysical Methods - 20 credits
  • Independent Geological Mapping and Research Project - 20 credits
  • Volcanology - 20 credits
  • Engineering and Mining Geology - 20 credits
  • Hydrogeology - 20 credits


The Geology degree is taught using a combination of lectures, laboratory sessions, tutorials, practicals, and UK field trips. The course contains around 35% practical work and most modules include a fieldwork element.

The number of hours of formal teaching will vary depending on your module choice and year of study. The focus of this Geology course is hands-on learning, so you will gain practical skills that are supported by the study of theory.

You will study six modules through the year. In the main, this will comprise of two hours of class or laboratory time per module per week. There are 24 teaching weeks meaning that you will have, over the course of the year, 48 hours of class delivery per module. It is the expectation of the school that for every hour you have in a classroom you will undertake an additional hour of independent learning.

Research-informed teaching

We are a research active team. Our Geoscience research falls into four main areas: Volcanology; Applications of automated electron microscopy; Geoarchaeology and provenance and Sedimentology. Our research links detailed field studies with high resolution imaging and analysis. Current field research is being carried out in Iceland, Azores, Spain, UK, USA, Mexico and Finland.


Our students are assessed using a range of approaches depending on your module choice and year of study which could include laboratory and field reports of your own work, essays, oral presentations, posters, field notebooks, teamwork projects and examinations.



This Geology degree is accredited by The Geological Society of London (GSL).

Field Trips

We pride ourselves on offering some of the most extensive fieldwork of any UK university Geology course, at locations in the UK and overseas, which currently include the Azores and Spain.

We have about 65 days of supervised fieldwork over the three years (more if the Foundation Year is included), which exceeds the minimum of 60-days required for professional accreditation by the Geological Society of London (GSL).  The course was professionally accredited by the GSL in 2016.

Field work is an integral part of the Geology degree and offers exciting itineraries throughout the three years. All compulsory UK and overseas fieldwork is currently free of charge, with the exception of food costs. Independent Mapping (four weeks) in the summer between Years Two and Three incurs some extra costs (accommodation, food, travel) but we currently provide £500 towards these expenses if undertaken away from the South Wales area (£100 if undertaken in the local area).

There may be additional costs associated with this course


By studying one of our geology courses, you will benefit from the huge investment in facilities that has taken place at the University’s Glyntaff Campus.

USW students enjoy a modern learning environment, with purpose-built labs and industry-standard research and specialist software that currently includes ArcGIS, ERDAS, RockWorks and MOVE. To support our undergraduate and postgraduate geology teaching and research, we are delighted to say that Petroleum Experts Ltd (Petex) has donated 10 licences of the MOVE software suite, the commercial equivalent of which is £1,341,961.89. MOVE allows the modelling in 3D of surface and subsurface geological datasets and is a crucial tool in modern digital geological mapping.

There are two dedicated laboratories with a large suite of transmitted light petrological microscopes and an extensive rock and fossil collection to support practical sessions. We also have facilities for geochemical analysis using our Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and wet chemistry laboratories.


Featured Lecturer:
Dr Ian Skilling

Dr Ian Skilling

Dr Ian Skilling is a British-born volcanologist with about 25 years of research and teaching experience at Universities in the United States, South Africa and UK. He pioneered the use of lithofacies analysis of clastic rocks generated by volcano-ice interaction to interpret depositional environments and edifice evolution, and has continued to focus on the interpretation of a wide range of volcaniclastic rocks.

Dr Skilling was a volcanologist with the British Antarctic Survey and has undertaken geologic consultancy projects for several mining companies in South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania, and collaborated on geothermal exploration programs in Kenya (UNDP). He has a particular passion for field studies, and has led 25+ field trips in many parts of the world, including Iceland, Kenya, Antarctica, UK, Canada, California, Hawaii, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa. His most recent areas of research focus is Iceland and Oregon. Read about his current Geology research here.



  • Dr Ian Skilling, course leader (Volcanology)
  • Dr Duncan Pirrie (Sedimentology, Petroleum Geology, Forensic Geology)
  • Dr Sorcha Diskin (Geochemistry; Geoearchaeology)
  • Dr Marios Miliorizos (Structural Geology; Geophysics; South Wales Geology)
  • Dr Malcolm Thomas (GIS, Remote Sensing)
  • Dr Gareth Powell (Engineering Geology; Mining Geology)
  • Dr Anthony Harris (Palaeontology; Natural Hazards)
  • Dr Huw Williams (Basin Analysis)
  • Dr Paul Davies (Hydrocarbon Exploration)

  • Dr Rebecca Exley (Hydrogeology)

You can read about our Geology research here.

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.

Typical A-Level Offer

BCC - CDD to include a Science such as Geography or Mathematics but to exclude General Studies (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level to include a Science (which may be Geography or Mathematics) but to exclude General Studies (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Science Requirements

Applicants taking Science A levels in England will need to pass the practical element alongside achieving the requested grade(s)

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass in a relevant Science subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 29 overall including a score of 5 in a Science subject at Higher Level. You will also need to obtain a score of 5 or above in English at standard level.


Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass an Access to HE Diploma in Science/Maths and obtain a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances. 

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

Find out how to pay your tuition fees in full or by payment plan.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

International Scholarships are available for self-funding international students.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13800 

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit/Equipment *
Students undertaking courses that contain elements of outdoor fieldwork must wear appropriate outdoor clothing, which includes suitable wet weather gear, rugged boots/shoes and hat/gloves. The location and weather will determine the nature of clothing/footwear worn, and therefore the cost, and students will be informed of these requirements at the start of their studies. Please note that inappropriate clothing/footwear may prevent students from participating in an activity. The School of Applied Sciences subsidises the cost of compulsory fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Although kept to a minimum, some overseas compulsory fieldwork may have additional costs applied. Optional fieldwork modules are typically at the cost to the student. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course. Students will need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. Please note that some fieldwork may require visas and vaccinations, which are at the cost to the student and will vary depending on individual circumstances.
Field Trip * £0 - £1000
Up to 6 weeks of residential stay (unless working from home in South Wales and mapping in local area). We encourage students to map outside of South Wales. 4 weeks of mapping and up to 2 weeks of project work. Students are encouraged to undertake project work that involves fieldwork and is in the same area as the mapping, but projects that involve work in a different area or no fieldwork are also possible. Students who choose to undertake their mapping in south Wales can claim up to a £100 contribution towards travel and accommodation costs (on production of receipts). Students who choose to map at other locations in the UK or Europe, for example, France, Spain or Scotland, can claim up to a £500 contribution towards travel and accommodation costs (on production of receipts).
Placement *
Students who successfully secure a placement in industry to complete their project would be expected to pay their own travel costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

Our Geology courses generate motivated and able graduates with a range of key skills. They are highly valued by employers for the scope of their knowledge, and have excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Laboratory work and field projects ensure our students have strong research and team working skills.

By the time you graduate, you will understand scientific principles and apply them to geological questions and problems. Graduates from our Geology degree have very varied careers, including environmental geology, site investigation, mining companies, oil companies, quarrying and geological surveys. A significant number of our graduates also continue to taught postgraduate courses or research degrees.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW Geology student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.