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Subject Summary: Part III Earth Sciences

This course offers a full geological education up to the active research level. It is intended for students planning a career, further training or research within Geological Sciences, or for other students wanting the intellectual challenge of an advanced course in the Earth Sciences. 

Part III has a core  of departmental seminars during the first term, based on topical research across the Earth Sciences.  In the second term there is a choice of advanced option courses, including at least two from each of five subject areas. Field-based training during the Easter break is an essential part of the course. 

Students carry out a research project carried during the first term, which can be based on fieldwork or Industry placements (typically conducted during the preceding Long Vacation), laboratory work and/or data analysis.

Programme Specification: Part III Earth Sciences

This course is taught by the Department of Earth Sciences primarily for those students intending to continue their academic studies at the post-graduate level.


  1. to expose advanced students to the breadth of the Earth Sciences through a combination of seminars, course work and field trips;
  2. to provide "state of the art" knowledge of specific areas in the Earth Sciences through a combination of seminars, course work, and faculty-supervised independent research;
  3. to develop the conceptual and practical skills necessary for independent research;
  4. to develop communication and presentation skills to an advanced level.

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught via:

  1. an original, in-depth research project, supervised by one or more members of staff;
  2. weekly seminars, presented by both visiting and in-house Earth scientists;
  3. course work and associated practical classes and library reading, organised into at least ten 'options' (of which students are required to take six);
  4. small-group supervisions;
  5. direct experience in communicating results in the form of student seminars and a poster presentation of research project results.


Course performance is assessed on the basis of:

  • an independent, original, research project, conducted over the course of the first term (for aims 1-4);
  • one unseen written examination of 3 hours based on Department seminars and fieldwork (for aims 1-4);
  • six unseen written examinations of 1.5 hours, covering aspects of the option courses (for aims 1-4);
  • assessed unseen practical examinations, covering practical aspects of some option courses (for aims 1-3);
  • submission of a record of practical and field work during the year (for aims 1-4);
  • an oral examination with an external examiner (for aims 1-4).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: NST Part II Earth Sciences

The detailed entry requirements can be found at The Fourth Year - Part III.

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.