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Masters Degrees (Planetary Geology)

We have 12 Masters Degrees (Planetary Geology)

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Planetary Science is an exciting area of study, as new data returning from current planetary probes and rovers expands and deepens our understanding of the geology of other planets. Read more
Planetary Science is an exciting area of study, as new data returning from current planetary probes and rovers expands and deepens our understanding of the geology of other planets. If you have an undergraduate degree in earth sciences or geology, but want to increase your knowledge of planetary sciences, then this course will bring you up to date with developments in the field. The specialist knowledge you acquire could help you change career, or build a career within the planetary sciences and education, or enable you to progress onto doctoral research at PhD level.

You will be taught by academics who are actively engaged in cutting-edge planetary research that is expanding the boundaries of knowledge. We cover planetary surfaces and remote sensing, volcanic activity on Earth and other planets, the nature of comets, asteroids and meteorites, and the internal structure and origin of planets, as well as offering advanced modules in astronomy, scientific computing, and the design of, and participation in, an analogue field mission. You can choose from a range of modules and put together a programme that matches, expands and deepens your particular interests.

The course can be taken via distance-learning or face-to-face evening study.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

This programme will teach you about cutting-edge developments in this exciting, constantly expanding field.
This programme is ideal if you have studied earth sciences or geology at undergraduate level and want to deepen your understanding of planetary sciences.
Our Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has been offering evening study courses for over 70 years and is ranked 6th in the UK.
You will learn in an environment of active research and be taught by lecturers who are working at the forefront of their specialisms.
Studying with us will give you access to world-class research facilities.
We retain close links with UCL's Department of Earth Sciences, sharing expertise, facilities and events across the 2 institutions, including live streaming of lectures and digital lecture notes.
We are part of the joint UCL-Birkbeck Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences (IEPS).

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In our joint submission with UCL, Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences at Birkbeck were rated 6th the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), while we achieved 100% for an environment conducive to research of the highest quality.

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Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences shares resources, facilities and expertise with UCL’s Department of Earth Sciences, thus offering you access to a unique, world-class research environment. Read more
Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences shares resources, facilities and expertise with UCL’s Department of Earth Sciences, thus offering you access to a unique, world-class research environment. This programme provides an excellent opportunity for you to develop and enhance your general, transferable and specialist research skills. You will gain insight into different research methods and acquire valuable experience of conducting large-scale research projects.

Our key research interests include: igneous petrology and geochemistry; sedimentology; environmental geochemistry and mineralogy; stratigraphy and palaeontology; structural geology; geophysics; palaeoclimatology; planetary geology; and earthquake studies.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In our joint submission with UCL, Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences at Birkbeck were rated 6th the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), while we achieved 100% for an environment conducive to research of the highest quality.

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Environmental geology is a growing area of active research, because it provides insights into how the environment has evolved over geological time. Read more
Environmental geology is a growing area of active research, because it provides insights into how the environment has evolved over geological time. Through our modular course structure and use of web-based material for distance learning, we aim to provide up-to-date reviews of research topics across relevant aspects of the earth sciences.

Our teaching is informed by considerable research into environmental issues, which is ongoing in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Current research focuses on areas such as metal pollution, coastal erosion, mineralogy, earthquake prediction, palaeoclimatology and palaeontology.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Can be used as a qualifying year for MRes or PhD study.
Offered as part-time study at Birkbeck or you can study by distance learning, wherever you are in the world (check our distance-learning frequently asked questions for more information).
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has strong links with University College London (UCL) Department of Earth Sciences. Together, the 2 departments form the UCL-Birkbeck Research School of Earth Sciences. The School offers excellent facilities for research in environmental geology and planetary geology, as well as traditional geological and geophysical research.

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Geology is an area of active research across a wide range of sub-disciplines. Through our modular course structure and use of web-based material for distance learning, we aim to provide up-to-date reviews of research topics across most aspects of the earth and planetary sciences. Read more
Geology is an area of active research across a wide range of sub-disciplines. Through our modular course structure and use of web-based material for distance learning, we aim to provide up-to-date reviews of research topics across most aspects of the earth and planetary sciences.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Can be used as a qualifying year for MRes or PhD study.
Offered as part-time study at Birkbeck or you can study by distance learning, wherever you are in the world (find out more about studying our distance learning courses).
An opportunity to take part in field classes to put your skills into practice (find out more about past fieldwork outings here).
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is housed with the University College London (UCL) Department of Earth Sciences. Together, the 2 departments form the UCL-Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences. The Research School offers excellent facilities for research in environmental geology and planetary geology, as well as traditional geological and geophysical research.

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This MSc is a uniquely broad and flexible programme that suits students' aspirations, background and experience. UCL Earth Sciences has strengths in geophysics, geochemistry, palaeobiology, mineral physics, geodynamics, geohazards, climate science, environmental geosciences and policy, and other areas. Read more

This MSc is a uniquely broad and flexible programme that suits students' aspirations, background and experience. UCL Earth Sciences has strengths in geophysics, geochemistry, palaeobiology, mineral physics, geodynamics, geohazards, climate science, environmental geosciences and policy, and other areas. Students choose from a wide range of optional modules from within the department and more widely across UCL, building an MSc tailored to their interests.

About this degree

The programme aims to integrate theoretical studies with essential practical skills in the Earth sciences, both in the field and in the laboratory. Students develop the ability to work on group projects, prepare written reports, acquire oral skills and gain training in the methods of scientific research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (45 credits), six optional modules (75 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Research Methods
  • Project Proposal
  • Earth and Planetary Systems Science

Optional modules

  • Earth and Planetary Materials
  • Melting and Volcanism
  • Physical Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard
  • Earthquake Seismology & Earthquake Hazard
  • Tectonic Geomorphology
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Palaeoclimatology
  • Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns
  • Deep Earth and Planetary Modelling
  • Geodynamics and Global Tectonics
  • Crustal Dynamics, Mountain Building and Basin Analysis
  • Advanced Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Studies

Students can also choose relevant elective modules from UCL Geography.

Dissertation/report

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 10,000–12,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Student performance is assessed through coursework, written assignments, unseen written examination and the dissertation.

Fieldwork

Crustal Dynamics, Mountain Building and Basin Analysis is a fieldwork only module without a classroom element.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Geoscience MSc

Careers

Geoscience students have gone on to pursue careers in many varied areas, such as planning and surveying, governmental organisations, academic research.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • PhD in Climatology, Cardiff University (Prifysgol Caerdydd)
  • PhD in Geoscience, UCL
  • Engineer, Geo-Info
  • Lecturer in Geology, University of Benin
  • Oil and Gas Analyst, EIC (Energy Industries Council)

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Earth Sciences is engaged in world-class research into the processes at work on and within the Earth and planets.

Graduate students benefit from our lively and welcoming environment and world-class facilities, which include the UK's only NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility and access to the University of London Observatory in north London.

The department also hosts the UCL Hazard Research Centre, Europe's leading multidisciplinary hazard research centre, and engages in extensive collaborative work with the Royal Institution and the Natural History Museum.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Earth Sciences

92% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.



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The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Read more
The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced scientific knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction.

This joint international MSc course between the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Justus-Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany is the response to these global change challenges and will suit skilled motivated science graduates wishing to develop a scientific career in ecosystem research as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy.

You will be involved in active research groups in both countries, contributing to their ongoing ecosystem studies in order to experience the process of creating scientific knowledge in ecosystem science. In addition to acquiring skills in measuring, analysing and understanding what is behind scientific data you will have the opportunity to develop your analytical, presentation and communication skills to enable you to participate in the policy making process.

Key Fact

Graduates will receive a joint international degree from two well-established universities combining their complementary and multidisciplinary research profiles and cutting-edge expertise. Through the 6-8 weeks work placement in in a company or institution of your choice, you will acquire transferable skills which will make you a sought after and effective employee.

Course Content and Structure

This is a 120 CP programme comprising 70 CP of taught modules, 20CP of work placement and 20 CP of independent research project. The first semester is based at UCD, Dublin, followed by a 6-8 week work placement in a company or institution of your choice. We have established links with organisations such as FAO, UNFCCC, ISEO, EFI, ICLEI and NOAA as well as European and national EPA agencies and many research institutes.
The second taught semester is based in JLU, Giessen between March and August and the third semester (Sept-Dec) is devoted entirely to the individual research project, which can be undertaken in either UCD, JLU or another approved research institute.
Samples of topics include:

• Global change (soil, air, water): modelling and advanced techniques
• Science and policy
• Research in ecology
• Environmental law and policy
• Man in past climates
• Policy consultancy
• Plant-soil-atmosphere interactions
• Biodiversity informatics
• Data analysis and interpretation
• Economics and environmental management
• Environmental impact assessment


For more information on module description and available scholarships, visit http://globalchange.ucd.ie/

Career Opportunities

Graduates may pursue roles as policy advisers, scientific analysts or researchers in government, international organisations, NGOs, research institutes or consulting companies. There are also many opportunities for further studies. The skills you acquire, particularly through the completion of the minor thesis within a 4 month period, provide a strong foundation for PhD research.

Prospective employers include the national Environmental Protection Agency, governmental departments, European Commission as well as policy consultancy firms such as European Environment Agency and also international organisations (e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; United Nations Environment Programme; Food and Agriculture Organisation; International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Facilities and Resources

• A climate change station at JLU hosts one of the world longest-running Free Air Carbon dioxide (FACE) experiments.
• The Program for Experimental Atmospheres and Climate (PEAC) at UCD is a state-of-the art plant growth room facility to investigate past and future climatic scenarios.
• The UCD Earth Institute is a centre for resource and environment research aimed at leading Ireland’s response to climate change and the global energy crisis.

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Theoretically, experimentally, and observationally oriented Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered in a number of key areas of geophysics. Read more

Program Overview

Theoretically, experimentally, and observationally oriented Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered in a number of key areas of geophysics. Current interests include topics in observational and theoretical glaciology; climate variability; geodynamics of the crust, mantle, and core of Earth and other planets; geological fluid mechanics; volcanic processes; origin and structure of planetary magnetic fields; reflection seismology; time-series analysis and wavelet processing; inversion methodologies with application to reflection seismology, mineral exploration, and environmental studies; computational electrodynamics; seismology with observational programs in crustal and upper mantle studies; earthquake studies focused on understanding past and current tectonic processes in Western Canada; and theoretical model studies to investigate wave propagation in laterally heterogeneous media.

Program Requirements

Geophysics students who have not completed a course in physics of the Earth at either the senior undergraduate or graduate level will be required to register for EOSC 453. The M.A.Sc. program consists of a 12-credit thesis and 18 credits of coursework. A minimum of 24 credits must be at the 500-level and above.

Quick Facts

- Degree: Master of Applied Science
- Specialization: Geophysics
- Subject: Science
- Mode of delivery: On campus
- Program components: Coursework + Thesis required
- Faculty: Faculty of Science

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Theoretically, experimentally, and observationally oriented Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered in a number of key areas of geophysics. Read more

Program Overview

Theoretically, experimentally, and observationally oriented Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered in a number of key areas of geophysics. Current interests include topics in observational and theoretical glaciology; climate variability; geodynamics of the crust, mantle, and core of Earth and other planets; geological fluid mechanics; volcanic processes; origin and structure of planetary magnetic fields; reflection seismology; time-series analysis and wavelet processing; inversion methodologies with application to reflection seismology, mineral exploration, and environmental studies; computational electrodynamics; seismology with observational programs in crustal and upper mantle studies; earthquake studies focused on understanding past and current tectonic processes in Western Canada; and theoretical model studies to investigate wave propagation in laterally heterogeneous media.

Program Requirements

Geophysics students who have not completed a course in physics of the Earth at either the senior undergraduate or graduate level will be required to register for EOSC 453. The M.Sc. program consists of a 12-credit thesis and 18 credits of coursework. A minimum of 24 credits must be at the 500-level and above.

Quick Facts

- Degree: Master of Science
- Specialization: Geophysics
- Subject: Science
- Mode of delivery: On campus
- Program components: Coursework + Thesis required
- Faculty: Faculty of Science

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