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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study


You will gain a lot from our field work modules, including the ability to apply the knowledge you have learned in lectures to real-life environments. That’s why practical work is at the heart of all our degrees in Ocean and Earth Science.

Benefits of fieldwork

On average, for every hour you spend in the classroom, you could experience two hours in the lab or field. Extensive training built around strong field and laboratory components will help you stand out in a competitive job market and excel in the workplace.

Field training exposes you to a different mode of thinking. You will learn from lecturers who are making an impact to some of the most critical and urgent global issues including predicting the fate of coral reefs, tracking earthquakes in the Atlantic, how volcanic ash could help reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases and how local communities are being impacted by climate change and coastal hazards.

You’ll develop the skills, knowledge and experience to build your confidence and self-reliance, to work effectively independently as well as in groups, which will prepare you for the challenges ahead in your future.

Based at our unique Waterfront campus, you have the ability to go from the classroom to boat in minutes. Practice as you learn, developing your hands-on expertise in the wet and dry labs onboard our research vessel, Callista. There are also opportunities to travel the world on residential field courses.

Southampton is just a short distance from areas of classic British geology such as the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge Bay), and the dinosaur-rich Isle of Wight and south-west England.

Where will you learn?

All of our marine science students taking one of our oceanography or marine biology degree programmes enjoy regular module related fieldwork onboard our research vessel, Callista, throughout their degree, which will boost your boat work and laboratory skills. These include residential field courses, the longest being a 10-day boat work focused module at the end of year two. In addition, in year one many will gain experience in small boat handling and take courses in first aid at sea and sea survival, which are qualifications that will allow you to work offshore during vacation periods or when you qualify.

Marine Biology Thailand Field Trip

If you are taking one of our three ‘Marine Biology’ programmes, you will also be involved in an intertidal ecology fieldwork module based at Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland.

Exclusive to the final year MSci students, there will also be an optional overseas field course in Thailand to explore tropical marine ecology. You will conduct snorkelling surveys of coral reef and soft bottom habitats and map marine underwater habitats in one of the world’s most iconic biodiversity hotspots.

You will work from a variety of boats collecting samples that describe the marine chemistry, physics and biology of the coastal environment. In addition, final year MSci Oceanography students will be involved in a week-long field course on board RV Callista which focuses on the bio-physical characteristics of the UK’s shallow shelf seas.

Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Geoscience students will experience a wide range of field-work opportunities that may include residentials in Yorkshire, Wales, France and Spain. Fieldwork is an essential part of any geoscientist’s training and our field courses involve a variety of independent and teamwork exercises designed to help you develop field, equipment-based and investigative skills.

Environmental Geoscience students will attend week-long field trips to Tenby in South Wales and Ingleton in Yorkshire. Students on the Geoscience Pathway will also be able to join residential courses in south-eastern Spain, North Wales (Anglesey) and a week-long field trip to Brittany to gain training in the use of geophysical surveys for shallow subsurface characterisation. Students on the Marine Pathway will be able to join the Applied Oceanography field course in Plymouth.

Geology tenerife fieldwork

Geology students will attend week-long field trips to Tenby in South Wales and Ingleton in Yorkshire, and North Wales (Anglesey). They will also have the opportunity to travel on residential field courses to explore tectonics, sediments and mineralisation in south-eastern Spain, and an optional trip to study physical volcanology in Tenerife. BSc and MSci students undertake an independent mapping project that seamlessly integrates use of modern remote sensing data with extended field observations, and MSci students also carry out a residential field course in Cornwall.

Student filedwork on callista

Geophysics students need to be experienced in a wide range of data acquisition and analytical techniques in the field, both on land and at sea. Your first year will include a week-long field trip to Tenby in South Wales and a further two-day geophysics field courses in the UK in the summer term, introducing terrestrial exploration techniques alongside marine surveying and meteorology. You’ll also attend a seven-day residential field course, in Yorkshire (Ingleton). At the end of year two a week-long field trip will help you to learn the use of geophysical instruments to study terrestrial environments, and you will gain experience devising and carrying out your own surveys. You can also take an optional trip to Tenerife to study physical volcanology. Geophysics and Geology students take additional field courses from the Geology curriculum – Spain, Anglesey, and for the MSci students, an independent mapping project.

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