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Applied Environmental Geology MSc

Course Description

Professional geologists working in consultancies, regulatory authorities and government environmental agencies are required to apply a wide range of transferrable skills to their jobs. Candidates who are able to demonstrate skills in public engagement, communication, professional research and report-writing, in addition to academic knowledge and field skills, are therefore highly sought after in these professions.

This full-time MSc Applied Environmental Geology is part taught and part professional project. We aim to develop your transferrable skills in a professional context and give you a head start in the geology profession of your choice or starting a PhD.

Distinctive features:

• Our location in South Wales provides us with a wide range of highly relevant geoenvironmental and geotechnical locations, which we visit during fieldtrips and use in case studies.

• Embed your skills in professional practice through a five month professional project, usually as part of a placement.

• Strong links with industry and government agencies ensure the quality and relevance of the course, and give you the opportunity to make contacts.

• Fully integrated with the professional development (CPD) lecture programme of the Southern Wales Group of the Geological Society of London.


There are two stages to the MSc Applied Environmental Geology.

Stage 1 lasts for 7 months (September – April), where you will complete taught modules and fieldwork, with significant contributions from industry professionals.

In these modules, we will investigate general themes, such as the principles of geotechnical engineering and geophysics. We will also look into environmental themes in more depth including land contamination, environmental regulation, behaviour of soils and water.

If you pass Stage 1 you will progress onto Stage 2, which is a 5-month professional project from May to September culminating in a dissertation. We will, wherever possible, offer you an industrial placement with a professional company either in the UK or overseas over the summer to complete your project.

For the first seven months, from September to April, you will complete taught modules and fieldwork at Cardiff University. After this, you will progress onto a 5-month placement in the UK or overseas where you will undertake a professional project and complete your dissertation.

Core modules:

Project Planning, Design and Management For Applied Environmental Geology
Geotechnical Engineering
Engineering Behaviour of Soils
Contaminated Land
Environmental Assessment and Regulation
Remote Sensing and Applied Geophysics
Transferable Skills
Water in the Environment
Dissertation AEG

Optional modules:

Environmental Geology/Hydrogeology Report


The methods of teaching we employ may vary from module to module. Generally we teach using a mixture of lectures, practical work and fieldwork. We also have a series of lectures with invited speakers from across the profession, as well as strong links with the Geological Society.

On the course, you will undertake laboratory work in several modules. This includes standard laboratory tests covering the physical and mechanical properties of soils, and water flow experiments to learn hydrologic and hydrogeologic concepts.

You will also develop your knowledge of numerical tools to model real-world geotechnical problems. Application software, such as CorelDraw, Surfer, ArcGIS, as well as professional geoengineering software, such as Rockscience and Landsim, are used throughout the course.

Throughout the course we encourage communication and teamwork. For example, we may ask you to work in teams in laboratories and on field-trips. Our project training includes skills in supervision and co-ordination of a range of tasks designed to address specific geotechnical and geoenvironmental problems.


We use a wide range of assessment methods, depending on the module. These include exams, coursework, presentations, practical assessment, your industrial placement and dissertation (20,000 words).


You will undertake a professional placement in industry as part of the second stage of the course. This placement will last for 5 months (May - September), during which you will undertake a research project and complete your dissertation.

We endeavour wherever possible to place students with industrial partners. This placement can be located in the UK or overseas as long as the project is deemed to be logistically safe and academically viable.


South Wales provides a wide range of highly relevant geoenvironmental and geotechnical case studies and site visits. These include site visits to the Cardiff Bay Barrage, acid mine drainage from abandoned mines and active landslides in the south Wales Valleys. Field work includes surveying skills, rock engineering to the Rhondda Valley and Cardigan, site investigation visits to the Mumbles, Bournville landslide, as well as contaminated land studies at Barry Docks and Bryn Pica landfill site. All fieldwork on this course is compulsory.

Career prospects

Our graduates are widely sought after in industry and often have an advantage in the job market, due to the applied nature of the course and the transferrable skills they have been equipped with.

Following this degree you may choose to work in consultancy, regulatory authorities or government environmental agencies across the world. You may also decide to conduct further research and complete a PhD.

Former students can be found working for the likes of Network Rail, Mott McDonald, Natural Resources Wales, Environment Agency England, WSP, Ove Arup, Atkins and numerous other specialist geo-environmental consultancies and agencies based around the UK.

Visit the Applied Environmental Geology MSc page on the Cardiff University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Dave Jones

1287.JPG “I work as a hydrogeologist for the Environment Agency, based in Cardiff. I work within the Groundwater and Contaminated Land Team who are responsible for protecting the quality and quantity of groundwater, protecting land and dealing with the legacy of land contamination from past industrial activities.

I have a first degree (BSc) in Geology from Cardiff University, and completed the MSc Environmental Hydrogeology Course in 2007. The skills and techniques I was taught on the MSc course have been essential to my work and are used on a daily basis. As a consultee to planning applications I suggest comments and planning conditions which will protect groundwater quality and groundwater resources, and ensure that brownfield sites can be cleaned up and brought back into beneficial use. I also manage projects such as borehole drilling to supplement our existing network of around 400 groundwater level and quality monitoring sites across Wales.

I am also actively involved with the Geological Society of London: www.geolsoc.org.uk “

(Student Profile)

Matthew Hogg

"In 2006 I started a BSc in Environmental Geoscience at Cardiff University and on entry into the third year, I completed a dissertation on the remediation of acid mine drainage in Pelenna, South Wales. It was at this point I realised how interesting the contaminated land sector was and decided to undertake the MSc in Applied Environmental Geology that was being offered at Cardiff in order to further my learning in that area. The course was highly relevant and without a doubt the studied modules provided me with a sound level of numeracy and refined analytical skills. I found that the practicals nurtured my investigative nature and provided me with clear written communication skills which were developed throughout the year as clear and concise reports were essential. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to undertake a placement with the British Geological Society and this led to me writing a thesis investigating relationships between historical land use and ground contamination in Glasgow. On completion of the MSc I spent three months on a voluntary placement with Exeter University studying remediation of peatlands on Exmoor before I was offered a placement at Ashfield Solutions in Abercynon, South Wales. I then joined Ashfield Solutions full time as an Environmental Advisor in March 2011 to complement the existing project management capabilities of the business and provide specialist, independent advice on potential environmental liabilities and statutory requirements with respect to land contamination issues and brownfield redevelopment. The MSc course at Cardiff proved to be the perfect stepping stone between undergraduate degree and gaining graduate employment and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to pursue a career in the contaminated land/geo-environmental sector. "

(Student Profile)

Damian Lee

1511.jpg "I was keen to pursue an MSc in Hydrogeology abroad, and I came across the information about this course from Cardiff University's website. The course structure and the promise of vocational/practical training, together with the inclusion of advance modules in hydrogeology and groundwater modelling seemed to be too good to be missed. So good in fact, that I was away from my young family and left a high-paying job in order to pursue this one year MSc Environmental Hydrogeology course as a full-time and self-funded student. This comprehensive and well-planned practical (and taught) course integrates the environmental and hydrogeology subjects, which are my main areas of interest. Furthermore these subjects and the associated taught modules in the course are very much related to my registered fields of expertise as an EIA Subject Consultant with the Department of Environment Malaysia.

I have some experience in groundwater resource studies and hydrogeological investigations, as well as environmental site assessments prior to this MSc, and yet I have found this course to be enriching and spot-on, i.e. focussing on relevant groundwater issues (fate and transport of contaminants, groundwater source protection and management, remediation needs and technologies, etc.) and at the same time nurturing key skills (site and hydrogeology conceptualisations, evaluation of aquifer tests, groundwater flow and transport modelling, water balance calculations, technical report writing, risk assessments, etc.) that one needs to develop to be an all-rounded and effective consultant hydrogeologist or environmental hydrogeologist/engineer. The School has close links with the relevant people in industry in the UK and I have had the chance to learn not only the theoretical aspects of the subject matters from seasoned and experienced lecturers, but was also privileged to be taught by some of the industry experts and experienced professionals in selected critical modules. I strongly recommend this course for those who wish to pursue a career as a hydrogeologist or environmental consultant/engineer and my only regret is that I did not pursue this MSc earlier!!"


Cardiff University Masters Excellence Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

“This scholarship package will give high-calibre students the opportunity to study at a world-leading, research-intensive university and help ease the associated financial burdens.”Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-ChancellorWe are pleased to announce that the Taught Master's Excellence Scholarship Scheme for 2016/17 entry has been confirmed.We are committed to invest up to a total of £500,000 in this high value competitive scholarship scheme to support UK and EU students who are planning to start an eligible master's programme in September 2016.The scholarships are each worth a minimum of £3,000 and will be awarded in the form of a tuition fee discount.Scholarships will be awarded based on academic excellence.

Value of Scholarship(s)

min. £3000


Eligible programmes include taught full-time and part-time taught programmes leading to a master's. Not included are our distance learning programmes and taught programmes leading to a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, as well as research master's such as the MPhil and MRes.‘Home’ and ‘EU’ students only (as classified for fee paying purposes, tuition fee status is determined after submitting an application to study) who are accepted on to an eligible postgraduate taught programme leading to a master's degree, and with a firm focus on academic excellence.For applicants from countries outside the European Union, we also offer a range of highly prestigious international scholarships.

Application Procedure

We have two deadlines after which scholarship decisions will be made:6 April and 27 July 2016.The Masters Excellence Scholarship application form can be accessed once you have submitted an application to study to an eligible postgraduate taught programme leading to a master’s degree. Please note the additional details on our website and in the guidance documents provided.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

1st or 2nd class UK Honours degree or equivalent. This degree is suitable for graduates in Earth sciences, environmental science, mining, civil engineering, environmental engineering and related subjects.

Last Updated

27 June 2017

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