Structural Geology with Geophysics MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a geological, geophysical, environmental geology, mining or related subject. Mathematics to A-level is also preferred, although GSCE level is accepted.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£13,000 (total)
International fees
£32,000 (total)

Course overview

Masters in Structural Geology with Geophysics

Structural geologists are crucial to implementing a successful and sustainable energy transition which addresses some of the greatest challenges of our time. Our Structural Geology with Geophysics MSc is a unique and globally leading Masters programme that fully equips you with the expertise needed to make real change across the breadth of energy and resource-facing industries.

You’ll gain advanced theoretical and practical training, combining structural and geophysical techniques to solve real-world geological problems across a range of subsurface environments, from renewable and sustainable energy provision and storage to ores and minerals resources.

Throughout the course, you’ll master the practical application of structural geology, exploring geological and geophysical constraints on subsurface interpretation whilst developing structural models and associated 3D visualisation software skills.

You’ll be taught by academics with a wealth of expertise and industry experience, and you'll have access to specialist facilities that’ll prepare you for working in industry.

At the end of the programme, as a skilled subsurface interpreter and modeller, you’ll have an extensive skill set, transferable into independent academic research or across a wide range of exciting career paths in this field.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Learn the latest, most pressing challenges for achieving sustainable and clean energy and resources from the impactful research conducted across five world-leading research institutes right here in our School of Earth and Environment, which feeds directly into the course.
  • Advance your knowledge and skills in key areas like structural interpretation, geophysical survey techniques, geomechanics, structural modelling and 3D/4D thinking in geological contexts.
  • Conduct your own individual research project, which focuses on a genuine research challenge that suits your interests and is often conducted in close collaboration with industry partners or with academics within the university.
  • Build industry experience through fieldwork opportunities and develop professional, transferable skills in time management, critical and analytical thinking, teamwork, presenting and report writing throughout your course.
  • Access specialist facilities, including industry-standard software and high-spec, dedicated computer facilities.
  • Develop your own industry links through our network of partners and undertake opportunities like short courses and company-led training workshops, provided by companies such as BP, Schlumberger (Petrel), Badleys (T7) and Seequent (Leapfrog) which provide both an excellent opportunity to interact with industry experts and develop skills in industry-facing software crucial in future career pathways.
  • Experience expert practical and theoretical teaching, delivered by a programme team made up of geoscientists from the School’s Institute of Applied Geoscience and Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics.
  • Enhance your career prospects and join our successful alumni who have pursued careers in related positions, working for reputable corporations worldwide such as Fugro, ARUP, Schlumberger, AECOM, and Shell.
  • Join one of our societies, such as ROCSOC or SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at events such as comedy and film nights, trips and through sports. You could even be elected as a member of the committee, which is a great opportunity to develop your management and leadership skills.


The Geological Society of London

When you choose a degree with accredited status, you can be assured that the teaching is of the highest standard. The quality and relevance of our teaching has been recognised by an independent body of academics and industrialists through our Geological Society of London Professional Accreditation.

If you have an appropriate degree, our Geological Society accreditation will reduce the amount of experience required for you to reach Chartered Geologist (CGeol) status, an important career step in Geoscience.

Course details

You'll take nine months of taught classes, followed by approximately three months of independent research and dissertation writing in association with industry or research collaborators.

The course begins by reviewing the fundamentals of structural geology, maps, and mathematics, before moving on to the more advanced modules. You’ll receive advanced training in structural geology and tectonics, geological model construction and the practical application of structural geology. You'll also gain training in interpreting sub-surface data, the principles of underlying data acquisition and processing, plus the opportunity to specialise in either hydrocarbon, geothermal or ores within semester 2.

Fundamental to the emerging Energy Transition is the need to understand structural controls in the sub-surface, for both renewable and traditional energy acquisition/storage. This course will focus on the practical application of structural geology, preparing you for employment in a breadth of energy and resource-facing industries, including geothermal, hydrothermal, CCS (carbon capture and storage), hydrocarbons, rare minerals and ores, energy and hydrogen storage, and shallow hazard risking.

Some of the modules you'll study are spread over a full semester, while most are short and intensive. They are devised to develop your advanced understanding of key topics, including large-scale tectonics, basin evolution and reservoir scale deformation, and your technical ability through the use of industry-leading software.

You’ll also undertake professional and research-level training in structural geology and basin evolution from regional, to basin, to reservoir/deposit scale.


The following fieldwork forms an integral part of the course. It is directly linked to learning outcomes in the classroom. During your studies, you'll have the opportunity to take part in field courses such as:

  • An introductory field day to Ingleton, North Yorkshire.
  • A 6-day trip to the Southwest of England. You’ll consider both extensional and compressional tectonics, basin-scale to fault to reservoir scale deformation, fault seal analysis, kinematic and geometric fault evolution, restorations, and 3D fault analysis.
  • A 12-day trip to the Central Spanish Pyrenees. This trip serves as a summary trip where you'll pull together elements from the entire course. You’ll consider regional scale orogenic deformation, through to basin and fracture scale. You will also examine the influence of sediment-structure interaction in basin evolution, and tie outcrop scale observations with seismic examples.
  • Additional day trips will focus on Energy Transition topics.

Course structure

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 Structural Geology with Geophysics MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Structural Geology Independent Project 60
Reservoir Characterization for Resources and Storage
Subsurface Interpretation with 3D structural Modelling
Engineering Geology 15
Geothermal Energy
Structural Models and Subsurface Interpretation 20
Geomechanics 15
Structural models

Want to find out more about your modules?

Take a look at the Structural Geology and Geophysics module descriptions for more detail on what you'll study.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is varied with some of your modules being very practical based, e.g. fieldwork, presentations and learning new software, while other methods are tutorial or lecture based. You'll also have the opportunity to work individually or as a group. Regardless of method, you'll be supported by substantial online learning material.

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.

Specialist facilities

The School of Earth and Environment’s building gives you access to world-class research, teaching and laboratory facilities. As a Masters student, you'll have access to a 3D visualisation suite and your own dedicated computer facilities, in which you may practice the following:

  • 2D and 3D seismic interpretation and geocellular modelling via Petrel and other industry-standard software.
  • Structural modelling and restoration through a range of industry-standard software.
  • A range of structural modelling, restoration, GIS and 3D visualisation programmes using PCs.
  • Ore specialisation through resource-specific software, such as Leapfrog 3D deposit modeller.

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 School of Earth and Environment is home to five world-leading research institutes, which are at the heart of our active research environment and working to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Throughout your degree, you'll be taught by experts who are leaders in their fields, becoming directly engaged with their cutting-edge research.

Industry links

We have very strong links within the industry, which you’ll benefit from throughout the year. This includes the provision of scholarships, data for dissertation projects, teaching of short courses and free licenses for industry-standard software.

We’re continually developing new industry relationships; below is a summary of some of the links that we have.

Industrial recruitment visits

We have weekly presentations from companies encompassing the industry spectrum, including the largest multinationals, specialised consultancies, and service companies. This gives you an opportunity to hear technical presentations and information about graduate recruitment schemes and employment opportunities. A number of companies also arrange first-round interviews when they visit.

Programme team

The Programme Leader, Dr Emma Bramham, is a specialist in surface behaviour and subsurface linkage to magnetically driven faulting, specifically in volcanic systems on Mars. She is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and has a wealth of industry experience as an offshore geophysicist.

The wider programme team is made up of geoscientists from the School’s Institutes for Applied Geoscience and Geophysics and Tectonics, featuring specialists in data processing, computational geophysics, structural geology and resource exploration.


We have established close links with a number of companies to ensure that your dissertation is relevant and directly linked with industry through placements, projects, data and project supervision.


The culmination of the Masters year is the final presentation in September, where you'll be expected to present the outcomes of your dissertation to an invited audience of industrial and academic contacts.

Short courses and software training courses

An increasing number of companies provide short courses to complement your degree, such as Shell, BP, Equipoise and Badleys. Although not a formal component of the degree, they provide an excellent opportunity to interact with industry experts and work on currently active exploration/production data.

Courses range from exploration and development team games, the application of fault seal analysis concepts to exploration data, through to specific software training provided by software companies.

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.


Given the variety of learning outcomes and teaching methods, you will be assessed differently between modules but generally assessed on a combination of presentations, practicals and/or formal examinations.


Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a geological, geophysical, environmental geology, mining or related subject. Mathematics to A-level is also preferred, although GSCE level is accepted.

If you have a lower qualification and a non-standard geology degree, you may be considered on an ad-hoc basis, supported by relevant experience. You may also have to take an entrance exam.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

30 July 2023 – International applicants

10 September 2023 – UK applicants

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2023

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Postgraduate Admissions Team



UK: £13,000 (total)

International: £32,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

There’s a need for well-trained structural geologists – specifically with geophysical expertise – spanning the scope of energy and resource-facing industries. From hydrocarbons to rare minerals and ores to sectors such as geothermal, CCS (carbon capture and storage), shallow hazard risking, and energy and hydrogen storage – you’ll have the skills sought after by many employers worldwide.

Not only is a Masters an excellent level for entering into the resource exploration industry, but this course is targeted directly for recruitment.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 10 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Previous graduates of this course have achieved positions in organisations such as:

  • Production Geologist, Shell UK
  • Geophysicist, Maersk Oil
  • Geophysicist, Oriental Energy Resources Limited
  • Exploration Geologist, Barrick Gold Corporation
  • Engineer, ARUP
  • Geologist, Schlumberger
  • Assistant IV, Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)
  • Support Geologist, Midland Valley
  • Geoscientist, Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL)
  • Structural Geologist, Badley Ashton

Many of our students also go into academic research after their Masters, tailoring their specific interests into a PhD, meaning we always have an exciting community of postgraduate researchers in our School.

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons our graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Career Centre is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications; our School’s dedicated Employability Enhancement Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Industry exposure — our excellent industry links, such as professional bodies and many energy and service-sector companies, will engage directly with our students via specific company recruitment talks and workshops held throughout the year, so you can build relationships with key companies before you graduate.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including the School of Earth and Environment Careers Fair with employers who are actively recruiting for roles and a dedicated Industry Recruitment Day, giving you the opportunity to network with industry sponsors. 
  • MyCareer system — during your course and after you graduate, you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the careers website.

Student profile: Gayle Plenderleith

The confidence in myself and my research abilities and the experience I gained during my Masters dissertation have served me best both in my career and in life.
Find out more about Gayle Plenderleith's time at Leeds