MSc Advanced Applied Field Geoscience

The MSc Advanced Applied Field Geoscience is the most fieldwork based MSc in the UK. This is a vocational MSc course that will give you with the knowledge, skills, competence and confidence to work in a wide range of practical geoscience careers, from engineering geology and mining to quarrying, petroleum geoscience and research.

Rather than focusing on an individual geoscience career path, we focus on providing a thorough training in a number of geoscience skills including digital data capture and visualisation, analytical methods and applied field geology. 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.

Fieldwork trips could see students visit Finland, Azores, Spain and the UK along with work close to our campus in South Wales.

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Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Glyntaff A

The MSc Advanced Applied Field Geoscience is a one year (full time) or two year (part time) course. It comprises three 40 credit taught modules along with a 60 credit research dissertation. Each taught module is divided into four topics, with each topic delivered in a two week intensive teaching block.

  • Digital Geology
    This comprises surveying and image analysis; digital mapping; surface and subsurface correlation and visualisation, and near surface geophysics. This includes training in digital mapping software packages and also industry standard 3D correlation and modelling software. As part of this module there is fieldwork in South Wales along with courses in Utah (USA) and southern Spain.

  • Analytical Geoscience
    This focuses on how samples are collected and analysed and how resultant data are manipulated and interpreted. The module is structured through the different types of materials which might be sampled: water, air / soil, rock and geological commodities. For each, we focus on the practical skills involved in sample collection in a quality control and quality assurance framework. This is followed by the assessment of different analytical methods and how the data can be used to address different geoscience questions.

  • Applied Field Geology
    This provides training in applied field-based geological data collection, related to natural hazards, mineral exploration and mining and in geotechnics and contaminated land. Natural hazards fieldwork is carried out in the volcanic islands of the Azores. Fieldwork related to mineral exploration methods leading through to successful mining operations is carried out in Finland. For geotechnics and contaminated land we will be working in Cornwall, including the opportunity to do underground geological mapping.

  • Research Dissertation
    Here you can focus on a specific area of applied geology and use the information gained during the taught modules to carry out a research project or a commercial company placement.


The three taught modules are delivered between September and April. Each module is divided into four topics, with each topic taught over a two week block. Teaching includes formal lectures, tutorials, practical classes, field/site visits, and field courses.

For each topic there are 18 formally taught hours along with field / site visits, field trips and directed learning. In total the formal taught classes and expected independent study equates to a full time job, with around 40 hours per week.

Some topics will be delivered by guest lecturers from industry and you will also have the opportunity to network with companies and guest speakers throughout the year. From May through to August you will be working on your research project, which may be a placement with industry.


The MSc Advanced Applied Field Geoscience is based entirely on coursework. Each taught module is divided into four topics with one assessment for each topic.

The assessment types include 3,000 word written reports; verbal presentations; team reports and portfolios of field-based data.

The research dissertation is based on the submission of a report which will either be in the format of a scientific paper or as a commercial consultancy report.


We have excellent dedicated geology teaching laboratories along with a wide range of analytical equipment. Specialist software for the Advanced Applied Field Geoscience MSc includes the MOVE software suite and PETREL. FieldMOVE is available for use on tablet PCs.

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.

Featured Lecturer:
Dr Duncan Pirrie

Dr Duncan Pirrie

Welcome to the MSc in Advanced Applied Field Geology. Do you find that fieldwork is where geology comes alive ? Are you interested in a career in applied geology and wish to develop a wide range of professional skills to help you start your career? If the answer is yes then we can help!

Our MSc is designed to provide you with a packed training course in modern methods of field data collection and sampling across a wide range of Earth science disciplines.

During the taught modules you will have over 40 days fieldwork, including planned trips to Utah, Finland, the Azores and Spain as well as in Cornwall and of course South Wales. This is an intensive programme but will be the spring-board for your future career.




The core academic staff are supported by guest lecturers from the different geoscience business sectors.

The course leader is Dr Duncan Pirrie, Associate Professor of Geology at USW. Prior to joining USW he was Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Exeter, before setting up a commercial consultancy company. He has published over 115 scientific papers and books. Research on applications of forensic geology has included linking soil characteristics with crime scenes and using soils to identify geographical locations. Dr Pirrie is co-author of a book, "The Guide to Forensic Geology" by the Geological Society of London. New work, funded through the International Union of Geological Sciences is investigating the detection and mitigation of mining crime.

Dr Ian Skilling is a British-born volcanologist with 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 (Cambridge, UK), 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 have led 25+ field trips (often with undergraduate and postgraduate students) 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.

Dr Sorcha Diskin is a geochemist, with interests in the provenancing of geological and man-made materials. Her research falls under three main themes: Geochemistry and mineralogy; Quaternary climate changes; and Pedagogy in geology.

Dr Marios Miliozoris is a structural geologist with interests in the Variscan.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

Candidates should usually have a first-class or upper second-class Honours degree in Geology, Earth Science, Geophysics, or joint honours Geology – Geography, although other applicants would be considered based on their personal circumstances.

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.

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9500

  • Full-time International:  £15100 

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* 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. Students will need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. 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 work * £3500 - £3500
To cover the costs associated with the travel and accommodation for the field courses to Utah (USA), Finland, Spain, the Azores, Cornwall and local work in South Wales. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course.
Placement *
The research dissertation module may involve costs associated with the fieldwork, although students will be encouraged and supported to find industry-based placements.


The University of South Wales is offering a 20% reduction in tuition fees for all University of South Wales* graduates starting a taught/online*** MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, DBA course or a PcET/PGCE course from September 2022 (this includes students starting their course in January/February 2023). T's and Cs apply. Click here for more details and eligibility criteria: USW Postgraduate Alumni Discount 2022/23

Graduates with a Masters in Advanced Applied Field Geoscience will be equipped to seek jobs across the earth sciences, including site investigation, contaminated land assessment, geotechnics and engineering geology, mining, quarrying, petroleum geoscience and research.

Graduates can also progress to a PhD or research degree.