If you love science and maths, but don’t like the idea of specialising in one stream of science, then Geology offers a great opportunity to use science and maths skills, without having to limit your choices!
A career in geology can offer field or lab-based careers, so whether you’re outdoorsy or not, there’s something for everyone. Most careers and jobs in geology require a geology-based undergraduate degree, and the need for a post-graduate qualification in a geology-based subject, is becoming more necessary.
To get onto a geology degree programme, you’re going to need GCSE Maths and English, alongside A Levels. Usually, universities will ask for several science based A Levels, such as Chemistry, Physics or Biology, alongside Maths. A GCSE or A level in Geology or Geography is helpful, but not a pre-requisite to get onto a geoscience-based degree programme, but good general maths and science skills are essential – it’s surprising how much maths you use for a geology degree!
Given the international nature of geology, knowing another language could be of help, and as some field locations can be remote, a willingness to fly, along with a driving licence, is also useful! Great written and oral communications skills are essential, and specialist IT skills, based around industry specific software, GIS and modelling packages, will give you better employment chances within the sector, although many universities give students the opportunity to learn these packages during the time at university.
A geology degree programme offers lots of variety in learning methods, compared to other programmes, and you will usually find that over the three or four years you study, you will get to take part in lectures, tutorials, lab based study, and fieldwork – although universities are very good at taking into consideration specific student needs, so if you think an aspect of this might be difficult to complete, it’s always worth talking to your prospective university to see how they might be able to accommodate your requirements.
Generally, there are frequent fieldwork excursions, allowing you to develop your field skills, and usually culminates in an extended fieldwork trip at the end of your degree programme to collect field data for your final mapping project. This is the equivalent of the dissertation seen in other subjects, and gives you the opportunity to show off the skills you have learnt in a field report, usually accompanied by a field map, and a “Viva”, a short presentation on your report to your tutors, who will question you on your report and discuss any interesting aspect or issues.
With about 40 UK universities offering geoscience, there’s plenty of choice to choose a institution that suits your needs best, however some of the top rated options, according to The Guardian , include Imperial College London, University of Oxford, and Durham University.
After completing your undergraduate degree, most students hoping to develop a career in geology go onto further study, taking on a MSc, or PhD, but ultimately, there are lots of career options including within:
- Mining and quarrying
- Energy production
- Environmental geology
If you need a little more information on whether a career in geology might be for you, and what a geology degree entails, the following websites might be useful:
- The Geological Society- Gives a great breakdown on what it takes to get onto a geology degree, what it’s like to study geology at university plus lots more on careers.
- Prospects- Has lots of information on geoscience as a career, and what to expect from a career in the sector.