Our Geology and Physical Geography BSc course is a flexible degree, supported by an extensive fieldwork programme, that will give you a broad-based knowledge of the Earth sciences.

What drives the occurrence of natural hazards, and how can we forecast and respond to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? What can past climate records teach us about future climate change? How is the movement of tectonic plates reflected in the landscape around us? If these are questions that you might ask, then this is the course for you.

The course allows you to select from a large number of options across the Earth Sciences and Physical Geography groups so that you can specialise in the topics that interest you. You could choose to study topics as varied as volcanic hazards, environmental protection, applied micrometeorology, engineering geology, or remote sensing methods. You may go on to work in pollution control or hydrogeology, or you could opt to become a geotechnical engineer, work for the British Geological Survey, carry out research or go into teaching. A Geology and Physical Geography BSc degree from Newcastle sets you up for a wide range of exciting careers.

This Geology and Physical Geography course gives you a broad and comprehensive training and allows you to develop your own specialist interests.

A varied fieldwork programme builds on a variety of lecture and laboratory based teaching, providing you with a range of practical scientific skills.

The first year of the course provides you with a strong foundation in geology and physical geography through a range of exciting core modules. You will build on this in the second year, where you can start to choose from optional modules, covering topics as diverse as continental deformation, geological natural hazards, hydroclimatology and environmental protection. In the third year you will lead the research for your dissertation. This could be anything from an industry-linked project with the British Geological Survey to a remote-sensing project investigating glacier retreat. You can also choose from a wide range of optional modules, and have the option of specialising further if you stay for the four-year MSci programme (dependant upon performance). 




Getting out of the lecture theatre and into the field is an exhilarating experience. Whether you’re sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive. There’s no better way to learn about the natural and the built world than by being in the great outdoors.

Fieldwork is a key element of our degree programmes, and Earth Sciences at Newcastle has an outstanding reputation for providing its students with high quality field training. It offers you the chance to travel, work independently as well as in a group and learn valuable technical skills. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout your time at Newcastle .

The field courses help you to develop as an observational Earth scientist. In year one, semester one there is a one-week residential field course to Northern Ireland. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to Pembrokeshire in SW Wales. These courses will provide you with practical skills and theory spanning the breadth of Earth Sciences. All students taking Earth Sciences courses do these trips together giving you the opportunity to get to know those on the Geology, and the Palaeontology and Geology courses.”

In year two, we continue to develop your core Geology as well as new Physical Geography field skills. There is a one-week residential field course to NW Scotland. This trip focuses on Quaternary Geology and geomorphology. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to SW England working on the world famous “Jurassic Coast” and then down in Cornwall. 

The first two years of field training lead to your dissertation project, which will involve field data collection of approximately one week usually carried out between years two and three. This could be in a wide range of topics to suit your interests, from glacial geomorphology to groundwater pollution to volcanic hazards. You will also have the option to undertake your project with an industrial partner, leading to an industry-linked dissertation project. Your project may focus on an aspect of resource or applied geology. Students have recently worked on projects linked with local councils, extraction companies and the British Geological Survey. 

In years three (and four if you stay for an MSci), you will select one residential field course each year giving you more control over the shape of your degree: Volcanology in Tenerife, Sedimentary Basin Analysis in SE Spain or Resource Geology in the UK.

The travel and accommodation costs of field courses are included within your fees, and we also offer financial support towards your dissertation field costs. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout their time at Newcastle .


Basic fieldwork kit for all new starters

When you start in Newcastle , we will provide you with the basic field supplies (worth ~£85) that you will need for your degree program. Please note that you are responsible for providing suitable outdoor clothing for fieldwork..


Why Study this Course?

There are plenty of reasons to study Geology and Physical Geography BSc at Newcastle:

  • Employability – Our graduates are highly employable with up to 100% in employment or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016/17).
  • Fieldwork – Fieldwork is an essential element of our degree programmes, and we have an outstanding reputation for providing students with high quality field training. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses will be covered by the University.
  • Research-led teaching – Our world-leading research feeds directly into our programmes, meaning you will learn from academics who are experts in their field.
  • Intellectually stimulating – 100% of our students were satisfied overall with their course and agreed that it was intellectually stimulating in the National Student Survey 2019.
  • The portfolio of modules across the Geology and Physical Geography degrees is highly varied, and gives you the choice to specialise in the areas that most interest you. Topics cover everything from natural hazards to environmental pollution, urban ecology to hydrogeology, and climate change to tectonic processes.


Institutional Accreditation 

University of Newcastle is accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission (DETC), www.detc.org.uk Since , University of Newcastle has been continually accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor.

Geology and Physical Geography BSc (Hons)

Course Level:

Undergraduate, Single Honours





How long it takes:

Undergraduate (3 years)

Study Mode:

Distance learning/ Campus

Course cost

Price: US$20,220

Entry requirements

Find out more about


Newcastle Law School

First year

The modular structure allows you maximum flexibility in developing your own interests without channeling you into decisive choices too early. In the first year you will study issues crucial to the shape of the world and our place within it, such as natural hazards, landslides, floods, global environmental change and cultural landscapes, as well as contemporary urban issues using Newcastle as a real-world laboratory. There are also fieldtrips to the likes of Ironbridge and the Lake District.


Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Contemporary Human Geography
  • Global Environmental Issues
  • Environmental Research Frontiers
  • Research methods, field work, and data analysis
  • Tutorials and Study Skills for Geographers
  • Widening Horizons Module
  • Statistical Methods and Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Second year

The second year will provide you with deeper subject knowledge in areas of your choice. You will be introduced to specialist techniques such as computer cartography and the use of databases. You will also learn how to develop a research proposal, which may be the starting point for your dissertation in the final year. Training in more advanced fieldwork skills is provided by courses held in European centres. 


Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Statistical Methods and Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Dissertation Labs and Fieldwork: Theory and Practice – Human Geography and Planning
  • Research Methods for Human Geography
  • Research Labs and Fieldwork: Theory and Practice – Human Geography and Planning

Optional modules – Example optional modules may include:

  • Geomorphology and Palaeoenvironments
  • Catchment Water and Soil Management
  • Ecological Systems
  • Hydroclimatology: Climate and Water
  • Environmental Assessment and Management
  • Understanding Neighbourhood Poverty
  • Social and Political Geography
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Economic Geography: Cities and Regions
  • Cultural and Development Geographies
  • Critical Issues for 21st Century Ecosystems


Third year

In the third year you select from a wide range of modules that provide more specialised knowledge and skills in the areas of Geography that appeal to you. You also undertake a supervised dissertation on a topic of your own choice.  


Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Geography Research

Optional modules – Example optional modules may include:

  • Advanced Fieldwork Research
  • Urban Environments in the Global South
  • Geography in the Classroom
  • Applied Micrometeorology
  • Climates of the Past
  • Environment and Landscape Change
  • Environmental Governance
  • Environmental Protection
  • Landscape and Urban Ecology
  • Professional Placement for Geographers
  • River Processes, Deposits and Environments
  • Weather, Climate and Society
  • Restoration of Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Carceral Geographies
  • Welfare, Work and Wealth
  • War and Peace in the Middle East
  • Environmental Justice
  • Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Management
  • Wetland Environments
  • Alternative Economies
  • Understanding Nature-Society Relations: the Ecological Century
  • Cultural Geographies of Development
  • Network Geographies
  • Geographies of Children and Young People
  • Conservation Practice: Genes to Ecosystems
  • Russia in a Global Context
  • Gender, body & performance
  • Palaeoclimates
  • Climate change in the Earth System
  • Environmental Management: Theory, Policy, Practice
  • Pollution impacts and waste management
  • Cities and Conflict
  • The political economy of agrarian change in the Global South
  • Extractive Politics


Fourth year

The MSci provides a natural continuation to your first 3 years of study and allows you to further your studies in human geography (city & modernity, geopolitics & globalisation, local economic development), physical geography (meteorological applications, hydrological & biogeochemical processes, river restoration) and environmental assessment or indeed a mixture of the disciplines.


Year 4

Human Geography pathway

Compulsory Modules

  • Project
  • Doing Human Geography
  • Theoretical Themes for Geographers

Optional Modules – Example optional modules may include:

  • Geopolitics and Globalisation
  • City and Modernity
  • Creative Economies and Creative Cities
  • Hydrogeomorphology and Catchment Management


Physical Geography pathway

Compulsory Modules

  • Project
  • Advanced Geographic and Environmental Research

Optional Modules – Example optional modules may include:

  • Meteorological Applications and Services
  • Atmospheric Observations
  • Environmental Analysis and Modelling
  • Advances in Water Science and River Management

Entry requirements


Applicants should normally have one of the following:

  • A non-law bachelor’s degree (from a UK university or recognised by the BSB if you wish to study the BPTC), or
  • A ‘stale’ law degree, where five or more years have elapsed since graduation, or
  • An academic or professional qualification at degree equivalent level

If English is not your first language, you will also need to demonstrate your English Language proficiency. For example, you should have IELTS 7.5 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all components.

If you intend to become a Solicitor

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has reduced its requirements for pre-authorisation this year. For details of the current arrangements, see the SRA website. You should pay special attention to the Character and Suitability section. If you think you may have a character or suitability issue, you may wish to clarify with the SRA before proceeding with the GDL.

See further details of our English Language requirement

USA,UK & EU students, 2019/20 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)




You’ll show your progress through a combination of written essays, problem-solving assignments and presentations.

All students take our core modules, but please note that the availability of optional modules is subject to demand.

Where could a degree in Earth Sciences take you?

Recent graduates have found employment in a wide range of fields. Our most recent student survey showed that many students from Earth Sciences were engaged in work or study directly related to their first degree, with the remainder choosing career paths in areas outside of the subject where the transferable skills gained on the programme prove invaluable. 

Careers in Earth Sciences and Geography are exteremely diverse, with students going into a wide range of professions. Increasing numbers of our graduates are employed in environmental planning, land remediation hydrogeology and pollution control. Opportunities in some fields, notably the oil and minerals industries, vary from year to year. Other employers include the British Geological Survey (BGS), local authorities, museums, government organisations and engineering and construction companies. Other graduates decide on a career in teaching either from primary or right through to further education. Many students also go on to careers around the world in locations including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Increasingly, a successful career in geology is helped by having a higher qualification. Nearly half of our graduates go on to further study before taking a job, either by completing a one-year MSc course or researching for a PhD.


Transferable skills

You will acquire sought-after skills that will enable you to forge a career in a range of geology and geology-related industries, from the environmental through to engineering sectors, as well as a host of generic transferable skills. From data analysis and problem solving to communication and team-working, these transferable skills are highly valued by employers and will enhance your employability in the competitive job market.