The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study

F660 MSci Geophysics (4 yrs)

Geophysics explores how physical principles can be applied to study processes operating in, on and around our planet, such as motion within its core tectonic movements, dynamics of the oceans and atmosphere, and the interactions in space between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field.

At a practical level, engineers employ geophysical methods to explore below the Earth’s surface in the search for oil, gas and other natural resources as well as for scientific investigation. Increasingly, geophysicists are involved in monitoring the environment and assessing natural hazards, whether global or connected with specific engineering projects.

Introducing your course

This is the course page for MSci Geophysics at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about Geophysics and what studying here involves.

In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of MSci Geophysics.

If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.


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If you are looking for a professional career in geophysics or quantitative Earth science, this is the programme for you. This four year MSci Geophysics degree will equip you with a broad knowledge of contemporary geophysics and a range of geophysical, geological and mathematical skills, including field skills and computer programming. These skills transfer readily into the world of work, and our students have been very successful in finding summer placements and subsequent employment in the geophysical industry.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

All undergraduate applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the 'How to Apply' tab on the navigation menu for detailed information on how to apply including deadline dates or click here to go directly through to the UCAS website.


The Geological Society of London

Key Facts

The programme has strong links to industry, through a combination of summer placements, one year industry placements and the opportunity to undertake research work on real industry data in years three and four.

A recent British Geophysical Association study identified geophysics as a subject area with considerable employment potential for talented graduates.

The National Student Survey 2015

  • In the NSS 2015 Geophysics scored 93% for ‘the teaching on my course’
  • 100% geophysics students agreed or strongly agreed that the library resources and services are good enough for my needs
  • 98% geophysics students agreed or strongly agreed that they have been able to access general IT resources when needed
Thumbnail photo of James Alderman

“A great thing about studying at NOCS is its reputation; which means major companies know they can come and find high quality students for future employment.”

James Alderman - MSci Geophysics

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

A Levels:
GCE A-level

AAB grade A levels or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University, to include Maths and Physics, one of which must be an A grade.

Other qualifications:

Please click here to find out about other qualifications

English Language

For details of our English Language entry requirements please see here

Selection process:
15-20 (overall intake across all Geophysics courses)
Average applications per place:

We will consider your MSci Geophysics degree application as soon as possible after it arrives at the University. In selecting applicants, we use the information provided on the UCAS form to dermine whether you have the potential to flourish within Ocean and Earth Science.

Candidates who are predicted to attain our standard degree offers will be invited to visit the University and the waterside campus. During this visit, you will meet with one of our academic staff to discuss the offer and explore how your interests and aspirations fit with the course. This formal interview also gives us the opportunity to get to know you.

Contextual Offers

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students flagged in this way will be given additional consideration and not be rejected solely on the basis of their predicted (or actual) grades.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

Within the modular system, this MSci Geophysics degree programme will allow you to develop your interests in broadly applying physics to the study of different parts of the Earth systems or other planets.

Innovation modules outside your subject area

Our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers you the chance to take optional modules outside your chosen subject area. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future. Modules range from "Living and working on the web" to "Business skills for employability".

View the Curriculum Innovation modules for this course

Learn a language

Some of our courses also give you the option of taking a language module, which can count towards your degree. These modules cover ten languages and range from absolute beginner to near-native speaker level.

View the language modules on offer for this course

Year 1

To ensure that a thorough grounding in the basic sciences is obtained, in year one students take physics, geology and mathematics modules. All modules are compulsory.

Year 2

In Year 2 you will take three compulsory modules. Three optional modules can be chosen from the list below.

Semester One

In addition to the modules below the following is optional maybe taken: PHYS2006 Classical mechanics.

Structural Geology, Exploration Geophysics, GIS and Remote Sensing
Physics, Fieldwork & Key Skills for Geophysicists
Mathematical Methods For Scientists
Igneous and metamorphic petrology
Coastal and estuarine oceanography I

Year 3

The third year includes five modules in core geophysical subjects, with a wide range of options for the other three modules. You may choose to do a more traditional solid Earth geophysics degree, or to include a significant emphasis on oceanography, climate, or planetary and solar system science

Year 4

You take three compulsory modules, including the Advanced Independent Research Project. You also take three optional modules.

Semester Two

For those students who choose to take SOES6059 Basin Analysis there will be an opportunity to work on data related to and to potentially compete in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Barrel Award (SOES6064) as an alternative to the Group Project. This option is only available to a small number of students, selected from those who would like to take the course.

MSci advanced independent research project
Climate dynamics
Seafloor exploration and surveying 2
Global climate cycles
Imperial Barrel Award

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Course fees for 2016/17 full-time UK and EU undergraduate students are typically £9,000 per year. Tuition fees for international students differ between each course. Most part-time courses cost 50% of the full-time fee.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Career Opportunities

There are abundant opportunities for careers in the oil, gas and mineral sectors as well as openings in private, public and military organisations.

There are also opportunities to work on site investigation surveys for offshore structures such as oil and gas platforms, pipelines, wind farms and sea defences. You might be drawn to issues concerning hazard monitoring or archaeological geophysics.

Teaching and research are also options for those who gain a degree in geophysics at the University of Southampton.

Our University careers support team has an outstanding reputation for supporting our students both before and well beyond their graduation.

Among our graduates is James Alderman, now working for Rio Tinto Mining and Exploration Ltd. “A great thing about studying at NOCS is its reputation; which means major companies know they can come and find high quality students for future employment,” he said.

On his current post, which has taken him around the world, he added: “The best thing about my job is that we are exploring parts of the world that have never before been explored, and my next geophysical anomaly could be the next billion dollar mine!”

Learning & Assessment

Ocean and Earth Science is strongly committed to providing the very best learning experience to all our students in a friendly and stimulating environment. We are known nationally and internationally for our excellence in teaching, and are continually improving the scope and delivery of our activities

On arrival at the University all MSci Geophysics degree students are assigned a personal tutor from the academic staff, who provides help and encouragement throughout the degree course and beyond, into industrial or academic careers and research opportunities. Each degree programme is a stimulating mix of lectures, practical classes, field work and tutorials, supported by computer-aided learning, and independent study. You will acquire an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles and modern concepts within your chosen subject, as well as a good personal and transferable skills profile. The fully modular course structure allows you maximum flexibility for specialisation according to your own interests.

As part of the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS), Ocean and Earth Science has a strong research-led world reputation. Cutting-edge research carried out by academic staff provides direct and enthusiastic input into a challenging and stimulating teaching programme. There is unique opportunity for students to undertake research projects with other NOCS-division scientists.

Study Locations

NOCS (National Oceanography Centre Southampton)

Ocean and Earth Science is based at the world-renowed National Oceanog...Find out more

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