The MSc in Geochemistry at St Andrews develops knowledge and skills training in geochemistry and modern geochemical methods, involving hands-on laboratory training, field sampling experience, and experience with state-of-the-art equipment.
The MSc in Geochemistry is a full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Geochemistry is a fundamental discipline within the Earth Sciences, providing the techniques and knowledge to address such fundamental questions as: was there ever life on Mars, how do planets form, and what are the rates and drivers of climate change, both past and present?
The course is comprehensive and rigorous comprising compulsory and optional taught modules, field work, short courses, and a research dissertation. Hands-on experience developing a diverse set of laboratory skills is embedded into the course.
- The MSc provides preparation for pursuing a PhD through a lab-based research dissertation, or employment in industry by incorporating applied economic and environmental geochemistry modules and the possibility of industry-sponsored research.
- A wide range of expertise in the field of geochemistry, underpinned by new state-of-the-art laboratory facilities.
- A dynamic and research-intensive atmosphere is encouraged and is supportive of all students.
The MSc degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework, normally equivalent to a total of nine taught modules, and a 15,000-word dissertation, usually completed over the summer semester. The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework and written examinations.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.
There are seven compulsory modules:
- Advanced Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the Earth system and the cycling of natural materials between fluid and solid phases.
- Analytical Sciences: comprises a series of seven lectures starting with the basic principles of accuracy and precision, which are then illustrated in the context of the most common analytical methods used in the geosciences.
- Earth's Greatest Hits: reviews current 'hot topic' research about how our planet has evolved and some of the major changes in its chemistry, biosphere and climate.
- Geochemistry: covers origin and distribution of the elements, thermodynamics, redox reactions and aqueous geochemistry.
- Geochemistry Field Excursion: covers best practice field skills in documenting the geological and environmental controls in a geochemical problem, how to collect samples, and post-trip sample analyses and report writing.
- Isotope Geochemistry: Theory, Techniques, and Applications: explores the theory behind, and geochemical applications of, the natural variability measurable in both radiogenic and stable isotope systems.
- Physical Chemistry Laboratory: comprises four practical experiments chosen from reaction kinetics, physical absorption of gases, macromolecular structures, diffraction, surface properties of materials, and dye modifications to photovoltaic cells.
Students choose three optional modules from the following:
- Advanced Petrogenesis: explores the nature of the acid and basic magmatism that creates the Earth's crust, the petrography and geochemistry of minerals and rocks, and the petrogenesis and evolution of magmas.
- Advanced Physical Inorganic Chemistry: focuses on advanced discussion of the properties of selected main group compounds, spectroscopy and magnetism.
- Biogeochemistry: examines the role of biogeochemical processes in controlling Earth surface chemistry, and their possible influence on deep Earth reservoirs. It highlights current geochemical and numerical techniques used to constrain these interactions in both modern and ancient (rock record) systems.
- Blockbuster Solids: focuses on how material structure influences its electrical, magnetic and thermal properties, with emphasis placed on metal-organic frameworks and how they can be used for the storage and release of gases.
- Energy Conversion and Storage: discusses the technical details and environmental applications of electrochemical technologies for energy storage, such as batteries and fuel cells.
- Homogeneous Catalysis: discusses the use of metal-based systems in organic transformations and a detailed treatment of homogeneous catalysis.
- Hydrothermal Ore Deposits: focuses on the geodynamic setting, age, geometry, and mineralogy of the principal metallic mineral deposits related to hydrothermal processes.
- Magmatic-related Ore Deposits: focuses on the geodynamic setting, age, geometry and mineralogy of the principal metallic mineral deposits using a holistic approach.
- Processing of Materials: focuses on the processing of materials and fundamental materials properties such as crystallinity, composition, crystal phase, phase mixing, domain structure, grains and grain boundaries, porosity and pore structure.
- Water in the Environment: provides a combination of the underpinning hydrological theory and the analytical tools required to better understand and ameliorate problems of water in the environment.
Optional modules are subject to change each year, and some may only allow limited numbers of students.
The third semester of the MSc course focuses on independent laboratory-based (or field and laboratory-based) research conducted with an academic supervisor. The topic is defined by the student and can be chosen from research foci within the school, or with an external industry or academic partner. The research project will involve project formulation, a background literature review, proposal writing and analytical design, as well as data integration and interpretation.
Students present the results of their project as an oral presentation at a poster conference, and in a dissertation. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date towards the end of August.
If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.
The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.
The range of research areas and applications of Geochemistry is so broad that career opportunities span the whole of earth and environmental sciences. Masters-level training in Geochemistry would provide a suitable platform for a career in materials science outside of earth and environmental sciences specifically.
Geochemists with MSc degrees are employed in:
- the energy sector (hydrocarbon industries, petrochemicals, nuclear and renewables),
- mining and mineral exploration, extraction and processing,
- environmental industries and agencies focused on pollution monitoring and environmental remediation,
- universities as laboratory technicians running equipment and supporting high-quality data production for research projects.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
- A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a subject-related area. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
- English language proficiency.
The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.
- CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.
- personal statement.
- two original signed academic references.
- academic transcripts and degree certificates. Please only upload certified copies with official English translations if applicable. Do not send original documents as they cannot be returned.
- evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).
Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.
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