BSc Earth and Planetary Science
Gain the geological and geophysical knowledge and skills that underpin modern investigation of solid planetary bodies in the Solar System.
Three A-level offer: AAA
Applications : admissions ratio
New for 2019 entry
- UCAS course code: F64B
- ECTS: 180
- Start date: September 2019
Modern geoscience is moving beyond the confines of Planet Earth to explore the geological and geophysical processes that shaped the Solar System.
The abundance of recent planetary missions together with the development of novel techniques in studying extraterrestrial materials and processes is yielding radical new insights into Solar System evolution.
Forthcoming planetary exploration missions offer numerous new opportunities to learn about planetary origins and evolution.
Geological and geophysical knowledge and skills underpin modern investigation of solid planetary bodies in the Solar System.
Our new degree in Earth and Planetary Science will focus on geological and geophysical processes in the Solar System, with particular emphasis on the planets, moons and smaller bodies, such as asteroids and comets.
It firstly provides you with a strong theoretical and practical foundation in earth science, and then teaches you how to apply that to planetary science. Our goal is to teach you how dust and gas in the early stages of Solar System formation eventually evolved into planets including Earth that is capable of supporting life.
You will focus on understanding Earth and other solid bodies in the solar system. The foundation in earth science will emphasise the fundamentals of geology and geophysics. From this you will learn how Earth’s atmosphere, life, surface, interior and external influences operate, interact and evolve.
That foundation is then applied to other solid planetary bodies, to help understand solar system formation and evolution, and the physics, chemistry and geology of the main solid planetary bodies. Key planetary science questions you will examine include for example:
- How have collisions shaped planetary surfaces and affected planetary and biological evolution?
- What does the chemistry of meteorites tell us about planetary body evolution?
- How can we reconstruct the climate history of Mars from analyzing pictures from rovers on the martian surface?
- Where is the best place to search for life in the Solar System?
This highly interdisciplinary degree provides skills in geoscience, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and computing.
All our courses combine a strong traditional emphasis on observational and field skills with modern numerical and analytical techniques required for a deep, quantitative understanding of Earth and Planetary processes and systems. Field skills are important for studying planetary geology because, for example, analysis of Mars rover-derived data focusses on the identification, mapping and interpretation of geological relationships in the search for the best rocks to investigate in the search for possible ancient life.
Our departmental involvement with current and future planetary missions will provide unique insight into mission science and the opportunity to study recently acquired data.
We also emphasise the development of transferable professional skills such as group working, problem-solving, drawing inferences from incomplete data, computational methods and IT, and oral and written communication. You can expect a balance between theory and practice, including a variety of field trips in the UK and abroad.
You follow a pathway of core modules in years one and two, before studying specialised modules in the third and fourth years.
Modules in the first two years are taken alongside students from other Earth Science degrees, and focus on the fundamentals of the subject.
You then specialise in your third year, choosing between physics and geology orientated optional modules. There is also a major project in both years, providing a further opportunity to specialise.
You can also diversify your studies with opportunities to study business, language and humanities modules, if you wish, through the Imperial Horizons programme.
We place emphasis on field work across all our courses. It is a great way to apply your knowledge to the real world and learn essential observational and practical skills.
Our field trips are designed to help you gain experience of identifying rocks and interpreting the physical (including tectonic) processes that may have been involved in their formation.
Depending on which degree scheme you choose, you could spend over 100 days in the field. This can range from geological day trips in the UK to 10 days in the Pyrenees or Cyprus.
Students on Geology courses spend six weeks mapping the geology of areas such as the: Greek Cyclades, French Massif Central, Pyrenees, French Alps, North West Scotland, and others.
Students on Geophysics courses have the chance to gain experience in using technical equipment in the field.
Please note that the curriculum of this course is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.
Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.
- Dynamic Earth and Planets
- Stratigraphy and Geomaterials
- Geology in the Field
- Deforming the Earth
- Physical and Surface Processes
- Volcanism and Internal Processes
- Programming for Geoscientists
- Maths Methods 1
- Maths Methods 2 or Life over Deep Time
- Chemistry for Geoscientists or Low Temperature Geochemistry
- Pure and Applied Geophysics
- Solar System Science
- High-temperature Geochemistry
- Maps and Structures
- Remote Sensing Earth and Planets
- Rocks and Structures in the field or Field Geophysics or Environmental Geochemistry
- Sediments and Stratigraphy or Mechanics and Waves
- Palaeontology and Optical Petrology or Seismology and Numerical Methods
- Igneous and Metamorphic Geology or Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers
- Independent Project
- Advanced Remote Sensing
- Collisions and Craters or Meteorites
You choose seven optional modules.
- Magmatic Processes and Products
- Gravity, Magnetism and Orbital Dynamics
- Planetary Chemistry
- Planetary Physics
- Planetary Surfaces
- Collisions and Craters
- Continental Tectonics
- Seismic Techniques
- Integrated Advanced Field Geology
- Science Communication
- Environmental Seminars
- Ore Deposits
- Environmental and Engineering Geology
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Hydrogeology and Fluid Flow
- Tectonics of the Oceans
- Advanced Programming
- Earth Systems
- Geophysical Inversion
- Advanced Exploration Geophysics
Specialist planetary science specialist modules are in bold.
You cannot choose two modules of the same name across years three and four.
Download the programme specification [PDF] – this is the most up-to-date version available for this course. It may change for your year of entry. If/when changes to this course are approved by the College, we will update this document and the information on this course page.
Our Earth and Planetary Science degrees are new for September 2019 entry.
Usually, a degree can be newly accredited once the first intake of students graduate (2022 BSc; 2023 MSci).
The Department of Earth Science and Engineering will seek retrospective professional accreditation, for students beginning from September 2019, from these organisations:
As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal School of Mines on completion of this course.
The Royal School of Mines is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.
Find out more about our Associateships.
Teaching and assessment
Our Geology courses are both theoretical and practical, and teaching will be enhanced by fieldwork throughout your degree.
You can expect the following teaching methods:
- Field work
- Group exercises
- Laboratory work
There are a number of different assessment methods for this course including:
- Written examination
- Poster presentation
For each module you will have a designated coordinator, who will be normally be a teaching fellow or member of academic staff.
You receive tutorial time with post-doctoral research assistants/fellows, who will themselves be researching specialised areas of geology and geophysics, with a depth of subject knowledge and experience of study to share.
As you progress through your degree, the areas covered become specialised and more advanced, and you will increasingly be taught by experts in the fields concerned.
Compare this course
See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions using the Unistats information below.
You can use the Unistats website to find out how this course compares in areas such as student satisfaction and what our graduates are doing six months after completing this course.
We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.
For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).
We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.
Minimum entry standards
Our minimum entry standard for 2019 entry is AAA overall, to include:
- A in Mathematics
- A in Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Biology or Geography
General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.
Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)
If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.
The practical endorsement is part of the reformed English linear A-levels.
Minimum entry standards
Our minimum entry standard for 2019 entry is 38 points overall, to include:
- 6 in Mathematics at higher level
- 6 at higher level in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Geography
The grades detailed below are the minimum requirements for students offering only Advanced Placements as their exams for entry to Imperial.
If you are studying a High School Diploma that is accepted by Imperial alongside Advanced Placements, requirements may apply to both your Diploma and Advanced Placements.
Please consult our country index to check whether we accept your High School Diploma programme for admission.
Our minimum requirement for this course is grades 5, 5, 5 to include:
- 5 in Calculus (AB or BC)
- 5 in Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Biology or Geography
- 5 in another relevant subject
Assessing your application
Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant.
Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones. It is the College’s policy to not make offers below three A’s at A-level in relevant subjects, 38 IB points with at least a grade 6 at higher level in relevant subjects, or their equivalent.
A typical range of offers made by this Department in 2017 (encompassing at least 85% of applicants who studied A-level or IB) is shown above.
Post-application open day and interview
If your UCAS application indicates that you are likely to satisfy our requirements and you live within reasonable travelling distance of the College you will be invited for an interview.
You will be introduced to the Department, the staff, our courses, teaching facilities and methods and life at College through meeting our current students. You will have a one-to-one interview with a member of the academic staff. For overseas applicants, or those unable to visit, we may arrange a telephone interview.
We place great emphasis on interview and take other qualities as well as academic ability into account when deciding whether to make you an offer. We will also take the comments of the staff member who has met you or spoken to you by telephone into account, particularly when we decide after A-levels whether to confirm our offer should you marginally fail to meet the terms of your offer.
English language requirement (all applicants)
All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.
For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students who apply for this course.
For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.
Tuition fees and funding
We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.
Tuition fees (Home and EU students)
|£9,250 per year
The UK government has confirmed that EU students entering the university in 2019 will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition for the duration of their course.
Please note that the fee you pay may increase annually by an amount linked to inflation and approved by Parliament under the Student Fees (Inflation Index) Regulations 2006 – currently the measure of inflation used is the RPIX.
If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course.
You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.
The UK government has confirmed that access to government funding will remain unchanged for EU students entering the university in 2019 throughout the duration of their course. This includes access to the Tuition Fee Loan for EU students who have resided in the European Economic Area for at least three years prior to study, and access to the Maintenance Loan for EU students have been resident in the UK for at least five years.
For the latest updates on the implications of ‘Brexit’, please see the Imperial and the European Union webpages.
Tuition fees (Overseas and Islands students)
|£30,250 per year|
The tuition fees for Overseas and Islands students are set by Imperial College London.
You should expect and budget for your tuition fee increasing each year by an inflationary amount. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2019 will apply to fees for the academic year 2019–2020.
Accommodation and living costs
Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.
Over 90 per cent of Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.
A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.
Bursaries and scholarships
Besides obtaining the core knowledge and skills necessary for a career in the earth science, graduates of the new programme will gain specialist understanding and practical skills in geological, geochemical and geophysical aspects of planetary science.
This bespoke training will ensure that you are well placed to pursue a research careers in planetary science, and will have gained the breadth of knowledge required to undertake a broad range of space‐related employment.
Our three-year BSc degrees are excellent preparation for careers in geosciences and other professions, especially if followed by a relevant MSc and a research degree.
Our four-year MSci degrees provide a deeper understanding of the subject and the chance to undertake a significant research project.
Many of our graduates go onto further study either by doing focused MSc degrees or undertaking research on a PhD programme.
Other recent graduates of the Department have become:
- Geologist, CD Capital / Prairie Mining
- Geosolutions Geophysicist, Schlumberger
- Research Assistant, Natural History Museum
How to apply
UCAS key information
- UCAS course code: F64B
- UCAS institution code: I50
UCAS Apply system
To apply to study at Imperial you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can view this course on the UCAS website.
All applications, other than those which include choices for medicine at Imperial, must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2019 for entry in September 2019.
The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2019 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2018.
Tracking your application
Once you’ve completed and submitted your application through UCAS’s online Apply service, you can use UCAS’ Track system to follow its progress and manage your choices.
See our How to apply section for further guidance.
You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:
Got a question?
Read more on the Department of Earth Science and Engineering website.