MSci Geophysics

University of Southampton
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Bachelor's programs

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About this course

At Southampton, Geophysics is a wide-ranging degree, which combines many of the sciences. We have strong links with industry, excellent facilities and offer many fieldwork opportunities. You'll graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in anything from oil and gas exploration to offshore surveys.

Geophysics is the science of applying physical principles to help us understand our world. You’ll work across Maths, Physics, and Geology, with the opportunity to take modules in astronomy, geography, and archaeology.

At Southampton, you'll learn about current geophysics and gain a range of geophysical, geological and mathematical skills. These include practical field skills and computer programming.

This broad course is one of only a few in the UK that combines terrestrial and marine geophysics, and offers great flexibility.

You can shape the course to your personal interests or career plans by choosing options that explore subjects like:

  • current and past climate change

  • tides and waves

  • our unique seafloor surveying module

Depending on your grades, you can apply to study abroad at one of our partner universities. There you'll take specialist modules and projects that are not available in the UK.

As part of this course you'll:

  • study at our pioneering research institution and waterfront campus, the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS)

  • use our modern, industry-standard, labs and teaching equipment, including the National Oceanographic Library

  • take field courses in the UK and abroad, where you'll design and carrying out your own surveys

  • benefit from our many links to geophysics and geology companies

Accreditation by The Geological Society of London means that our teaching is of the highest quality and has been approved by an independent body of academics and industrialists.

Location and awarding body

The course location is Waterfront (National Oceanography Centre Southampton) in Southampton and Highfield campus in Southampton. The awarding body is University of Southampton.

Transfer between courses

You can transfer onto the 'Study Abroad' course pathway at the end of the first year. Places are limited to students who achieve the highest grades in the year 1 exams.

A-levels additional information

Offers typically exclude General Studies and Critical Thinking. Where this offer is satisfied by including grades achieved in either Biology, Chemistry or Physics, a Pass in the practical science assessment is additionally required.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Pass, with 34 points overall with 17 points at Higher Level, including 5 and 6 at Higher Level Physics and Mathematics.

International Baccalaureate Diploma additional information

Applications where Higher Level subjects have been studied without the full Diploma, will also be considered on a case by case basis.


D in the BTEC Subsidiary Diploma plus AA in A Level Mathematics and Physics. We do not accept the BTEC Diploma/BTEC Extended Diploma without two AA grades in A Level Mathematics and Physics

BTEC additional information

Where this offer is satisfied by including grades achieved in either Biology, Chemistry or Physics, a Pass in the practical science assessment is additionally required. Offers typically exclude General Studies and Critical Thinking.

Other qualifications

A-levels with Extended Project Qualification

If you are taking an EPQ in addition to 3 A levels, you will receive the following offer in addition to the standard A-level offer:ABB including Physics and Mathematics (minimum grade B), and grade A in the EPQ

A-levels contextual offer

International Baccalaureate Career Programme (IBCP) offer

BTEC (RQF) (reformed)

D in the BTEC Extended Certificate plus AA in A Level Mathematics and Physics. We do not accept the BTEC National Diploma/ BTEC National Extended Diploma without two AA grades in A Level Mathematics and Physics.

Irish Leaving Certificate (first awarded 2017)

H1, H2, H2, H2, H2, H2 including Physics and Mathematics at H3.

Irish Leaving Certificate (first awarded 2016)

AAAABB to include Mathematics and Physics

Irish Leaving Certificate additional information

Applicants will be required to have achieved a pass in Mathematics and English at ILC Grade C or 04, the equivalent of GCSE grade C/grade 4.

Scottish Qualification offers

Offers will be based on exams being taken at the end of S6. Subjects taken and qualifications achieved in S5 will be reviewed. Careful consideration will be given to an individual’s academic achievement, taking in to account the context and circumstances of their pre-university education. Please see the University of Southampton’s Curriculum for Excellence Scotland Statement (PDF, 111.01 KB) for further information. Applicants are advised to contact their Faculty Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

Cambridge Pre-U additional information

Cambridge Pre-U's can be used in combination with other qualifications such as A Levels to achieve the equivalent of the typical offer, where D3 can be used in lieu of A Level grade A or grade M2 can be used in lieu of grade B.

Welsh Baccalaureate

AA from two A levels including Physics and Mathematics and B from the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate

Welsh Baccalaureate additional information

Where this offer is satisfied by including grades achieved in either Biology, Chemistry or Physics, a Pass in the practical science assessment is additionally required. Offers typically exclude General Studies and Critical Thinking.

European Baccalaureate

GCSE requirements

English language requirements

All applicants must demonstrate they possess at least a minimum standard of English language proficiency. Applicants requiring a visa to study in the UK who do not offer GCSE English language (or GCSE English) at the required level will need to meet the following English language proficiency requirement. Find out more about the University’s English Language requirements.

Band B IELTS 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in all components

IELTS score requirements

Non-academic entry requirements

International qualifications

This is a list of the international qualifications that are recognised by the University of Southampton. If you are not sure that your qualifications meet the requirements of this course please contact our Admissions Teams.

Foundation year for Engineering, Physics, Maths and Geophysics

If you don’t have the right qualifications for direct entry into this course, you may still be able to enrol by taking our Foundation Year. This intensive, one-year course will give you the background skills and knowledge to enter into any undergraduate degree in engineering, physics, mathematics or geophysics.

Contact us if you have a question about what qualifications you have or might need.

Other ways to qualify

You might meet our criteria in other ways if you do not have the qualifications we need. Find out more about:

  • our Access to Southampton scheme for students living permanently in the UK (including residential summer school, application support and scholarship)

  • skills you might have gained through work or other life experiences (otherwise known as recognition of prior learning)

Find out more about our Admissions Policy.

Course structure

Within the modular system, this Geophysics degree will let you develop your interests, and apply physics to studying the Earth's systems or even other planets.

Year 1

Explore the basics of Earth science and develop your maths and physics skills beyond A level with modules in Geology, Physics, and Mathematics. Learn how the Earth’s systems function, including:

  • interactions between earth, oceans and atmosphere

  • the mineral and chemical makeup of rocks, and how to identify them

  • how to interpret geological maps

  • understanding geological processes

Examples of skills you'll cover include:

  • specific computing skills such as:

  • introductory Geographic Information Systems

Year 2

  • exploration geophysics

  • other key skills

You can also choose from a wide range of options, for example, you could learn oceanography to an intermediate level or study classical mechanics.

Year 3

You'll take compulsory modules in core geophysical topics including advanced exploration techniques, and plate tectonics, then select from a wide range of optional modules.

With this number of module options, you can choose a traditional solid Earth geophysics degree, or specialise on topics like:

  • oceanography

You can also take a field trip to Tenerife to study volcanic and mantle processes.

Year 4

A major part of your final year is the individual research project on a topic of your choosing. A member of staff will help you decide on a topic and give you ongoing supervision.

You'll also choose from a range of specialised optional modules, on topics such as:

  • climate

  • seafloor surveying

You may also have the opportunity to take part in the Barrel Award module. This is an international, team-based competition organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

  • lectures

Support for your studies

How you’ll spend your study time

Your scheduled learning, teaching and independent study, year by year:

Year 1

How we’ll assess you

We’ll assess you using:

  • coursework, laboratory reports and essays
  • individual and group projects

Year 1


There is a shortage of geophysicists around the world, so you'll be well placed to gain employment with a wide variety of UK or global companies when you graduate.

Our unique modules, such as Seafloor Surveying, will give you skills that are in high demand for offshore engineering work, such as wind farms and cable installation. Typical geophysics roles include:

  • offshore engineering

  • archaeology

  • mineral exploration

You'll graduate as a highly qualified scientist with excellent technical skills as well as personal and transferable skills in:

  • numeracy

  • data collection and analysis

Thus you will be well-placed also for broader scientific/technical graduate roles, or for careers such as teaching.

The degree is also a good foundation for study and research at postgraduate level.

We host an annual careers fair at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton. Over 25 key employers attend, all looking for Southampton graduates.

Careers services at Southampton

We are a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2019). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:

  • work experience schemes

  • networking events

  • a wealth of volunteering opportunities

  • study abroad and summer school opportunities

We have a vibrant entrepreneurship culture and our dedicated start-up supporter, Futureworlds, is open to every student.

Work in industry

UK/EU fees

You'll pay £9,250 in tuition fees for the academic year 2020 to 2021. This fee might change for further years of your course.

International student fees

What your fees pay for

Your tuition fees pay for the full cost of tuition and all examinations.

Find out how to:

  • Software Licenses
  • Computer discs or USB drives

See the full list of extra items and costs in the programme specificationPDF opens in a new window 2020 to 2021 (PDF, 417.08 KB).

Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:

Bursaries, scholarships and other funding

If you're a UK or EU student and your household income is under £25,000 a year, you may be able to get a University of Southampton bursary to help with your living costs. Find out about bursaries and other funding we offer at Southampton.

If you're a care leaver or estranged from your parents, you may be able to get a specific bursary.

Scholarships and grants

You may be able to get a scholarship or grant that's linked to your chosen subject area.

We award scholarships and grants for travel, academic excellence, or to students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Support during your course

The Student Services Centre offers support and advice on money to students. You may be able to access our Student Support fund and other sources of financial support during your course.

Funding for international students

University life

The University offers a friendly, diverse and welcoming home for you while you study. You'll work, live and socialise with students from more than 130 countries.

Clubs, societies and facilities

  • a hairdresser

Our sports facilities include a 25-metre swimming pool, a gym with 140 fitness stations, squash courts, a bouldering wall, outdoor pitches and much more. There are over 80 sports clubs you could join, and activity classes including yoga and spin.

We have an internationally known theatre, concert hall, art gallery and cinema showing everything from mainstream blockbusters to international arthouse classics. You could perform at a gig, concert or show, take part in an exhibition or join a writers’ workshop. Find out more about arts and culture at Southampton.

Whatever your passion or community, you can find like-minded people at one of the Students’ Union clubs and societies. There are more than 200 to join, and social activities in every hall of residence.

Support while you study

We aim to help you deal with any problems you might come across, so you can make the most of your time at university. We offer support with:

  • mental health, learning difficulties and disability

  • money and accommodation

We will assess your application on the strength of your:

  • predicted grades
  • academic reference

We aim to respond to you within 2 to 6 weeks with a decision about your application.

We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.

More Information

Posted on


Bachelor's programs


Southampton , United Kingdom