The Exploration Geophysics curriculum is divided into three semesters, featuring eight taught modules and an independent research project. Taught modules cover a broad range of geophysical disciplines as applied to resource, environmental and engineering industries.
In Semester one, you'll learn the theoretical tools of the trade via fundamental modules, covering topics such as seismic fundamentals and acquisition, computational inverse theory, field and structural geology, seismic data processing and near-surface geophysics.
Throughout Semester two, you'll put this theory into practice with applied modules in topics such as reservoir geophysics, petrophysics, seismic interpretation, and gravity and magnetic methods. The semester culminates in a residential field trip, in which you'll undertake data acquisition and analyse the data you collect.
Throughout Semester three, over summer, you'll apply the skills learnt during the taught course to undertake an independent project to explore a current geophysics research problem. These projects are typically tailored to the individual interests of students and often involve an external collaborator – whether from the industrial or research sectors – with the potential to undertake an internship for at least part of the project period.
Project topics regularly include investigations of specific geological issues and prospects, studies of novel seismic analysis tools, and integrated geophysical investigations – on scales from basins to quarries. All are unique to each year, with a desired commercial or academic outcome. About 10% of projects involve fieldwork and can be case studies or innovative research-aligned investigations – even to a publishable standard.
Exploration Geophysics features two field exercises. In Semester one, you'll undertake two days of field geology, to help you visualise subsurface targets and the geological structures that they represent. In Semester two, you'll complete a four-day residential field trip at a site in North Wales, where you'll use our geophysical survey systems to image and understand a variety of subsurface targets.
Want to find out more about your modules?
Take a look at the Exploration Geophysics module descriptions for more detail on what you'll study.
The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Exploration Geophysics MSc in the course catalogue
Exploration Geophysics: Project and Dissertation
Computational Inverse Theory
Geophysical Reservoir Evaluation
Gravity and Magnetic Methods
Geological and Physical Methods for Subsurface Characterisation
Seismic Fundamentals and Acquisition
Seismic Data Processing
Seismic Reflection Interpretation and Sequence Stratigraphy
Learning and teaching
Exploration Geophysics features a 22-week taught syllabus, spanning two semesters. You may expect an average of 25 hours of contact time from staff each week, via either face-to-face lectures, workstation practicals, or online workshops. A number of workshops are led by industry professionals, including topics on seismic processing, interpretation and inversion. You'll undertake coursework submissions throughout the taught course and have opportunities for constructive feedback on your work. Discussion of your progress and understanding among your MSc peers is encouraged.
You'll be assigned a personal tutor, who will maintain contact with you throughout the year and offer pastoral guidance. They will help you to settle into the university and clarify any procedures, as well as helping you prepare for employment upon graduation.
You’ll also learn the latest geophysical developments through our “Tuesday Talks” seminar series, featuring a weekly visit from a professional geophysicist. Our recent programme has featured professionals from Drax Power, Fugro, Shearwater, BP, Cornish Lithium and the British Antarctic Survey.
Our Exploration Geophysics course benefits from a dedicated computer cluster, where you'll receive training with numerous industry-standard software packages. These include MESA, SeisSpace/ProMAX®, KINGDOM, Petrel™, Geosoft, RokDoc, OpendTect™ and Reveal™. Leeds maintains a sector-leading stock of geophysical survey systems, offering you the capacity to undertake your own data acquisitions using seismic, radar, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic systems. This has recently been complemented with borehole tomography and distributed sensing technologies.
Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.
You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.
Active research environment
The Exploration Geophysics MSc curriculum is centred around research-based teaching, and you'll benefit from the active research programmes of the delivery team. Your research project will address a genuine geoscience issue and you'll be mentored in essential research skills by a project advisor. A selection of our staff’s current research projects can be seen in our School’s research pages.
Strong links with industry reinforce this vocational Masters degree, helping you to develop a grounded perspective, as well as providing you with recruitment possibilities.
In addition to the industrial experience of many School staff and contributions from University of Leeds geoscience spin-out companies, you'll have numerous contacts with industry representatives throughout the year.
We have many visits from energy, geophysical acquisition, processing and software companies, primarily to engage with you and recruit Masters students throughout their degree. These visits include recruitment information, technical showcases and case studies of integrated geoscience in practice, as well as opportunities for you to network with geoscience professionals. Many offer 'guest lectures' on the taught course, to supplement what you'll learn from our defined syllabus and enhance strongly your employability.
You'll have the opportunity to attend one or more major industry event: the PETEX conference and the annual European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers conference and exhibition. These have strong student-aligned programmes, alongside extensive presentations and exhibitions on the latest scientific and technological developments. You can experience all of these, and meet industry experts, including potential employers.
Your summer project is typically carried out either with collaborating commercial companies or academic/government institutes. These projects are linked to current activities, representing actual problems for which a real research or business outcome is sought. Some are field-based: some result in journal publications or conference presentations, such as at the EAGE conference. The projects finish with a presentation day, where you'll present your work to an audience of academic and industry visitors.
The programme leader, Dr Adam Booth, is a specialist in near-surface geophysical surveying, with research interests throughout environmental and engineering geoscience settings. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is committed to innovative and inclusive curriculum design.
The wider programme team is made up of geoscientists from the School’s Institute of Applied Geoscience and Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, featuring specialists in data processing, computational geophysics, structural geology and resource exploration.
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
Modules are assessed through a variety of exam papers and coursework exercises. Each features opportunities for formative feedback, to help you hone analysis and reporting skills ahead of formally assessed submissions. Our coursework gives you the opportunity to learn through assessment, with each exercise drawing on authentic examples of geophysical data whilst testing your appraisal and analysis of it. While most of these submissions are individually assessed, some provide opportunities for group work to offer an authentic experience of the diversity of a professional team. The project module tests your ability both to undertake and communicate a science project, and its assessed components include a dissertation, a poster and a research seminar presented to peers, course staff and external industry guests.