Geophysical and Atmospheric Sciences BSc

Year of entry

Open Days 2024

Bookings for our 2024 Open Days are now open. Book now

UCAS code
F640
Start date
September 2025
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
3 years full time
Work placement
Optional
Study abroad
Optional
Typical A-level offer
AAB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB
Full entry requirements

Course overview

geophysical fieldtrip UG 800x260

Our planet faces many pressing societal challenges. With a growing population, more and more people are affected by natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and extreme weather. Space weather is also increasingly impacting the satellites we all rely on as a society.

The climate emergency calls for sustainable exploration and the need for utilising the Earth’s resources to develop sustainable technologies that will combat the impact – from freshwater to minerals.

On this course, you’ll develop fundamental expertise in the physics of the Earth, including ocean and atmospheric physics and the dynamics of the Earth’s and other planets’ interiors. You’ll apply this knowledge to find solutions to complex environmental challenges in areas like climate change, energy transition and hazard mitigation.

You’ll be trained in data analysis, quantitative modelling and computer programming – all skills that are vital to tackling real-world environmental issues. To help further develop your skill set, we place a strong emphasis on practical, hands-on learning with a range of field trips throughout the course.

As we move towards a greener, more sustainable future, it’s the skills and expertise you’ll learn on this course that will be invaluable to many industries and governments worldwide.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Our globally-renowned research that tackles complex global challenges such as climate change, energy security and natural hazard management feeds directly into your course and shapes what you learn at Leeds with the latest thinking.
  • Experience expert teaching delivered by a programme team made up of leading specialists with extensive industry experience from across the breadth of this field.
  • Put theory into practice by undertaking fieldwork activities, where you’ll advance your research skills and gain hands-on experience highly valued by employers in industry.
  • Access specialist facilities, featuring extensive lab spaces, including our Earth Visualisation Lab, and computer clusters fully equipped with the latest technology to support your learning.
  • Enhance your career prospects and give your CV that competitive edge before you graduate with our exciting study abroad programmes and work placement opportunities.
  • Join one of our societies, such as RocSoc or SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at activities such as comedy and film nights, trips and sports. You could even be elected as a member of the committee, which is a great opportunity to develop your management and leadership skills.

Course details

This degree covers a broad basis in geophysical and atmospheric topics across the discipline, providing you with a solid foundation by the end of your second year. Starting out from physical fundamentals, we will apply these to geophysical and atmospheric examples ranging from the Earth’s magnetic and gravitational field to seismology and hazards caused by earthquakes, volcanoes and extreme weather to climate change and environmental monitoring.

Fieldwork will be integral to your course, with opportunities to explore many different environments first-hand, in the UK and abroad.

Please note: field trip destinations specified below are typical examples but may be subject to change.

Each academic year, you'll take a total of 120 credits.

The course structure shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1

In your first year, you’ll develop fundamental skills in maths, physics of the Earth, atmosphere and oceans, and geology. You’ll start computer programming that you'll use and develop throughout your degree. You'll study maths in your first and second year and can choose from a range of discovery and/or optional modules.

Compulsory modules

Physics of the Earth and Atmosphere – 40 credits

Learn both the basic principles of physics and the way that they are applied in different techniques to study the planet. This module focuses on quantitative problem solving, data analysis and interpretation and integrating methods to obtain a broad understanding of our planet from an atomic to a global scale.

Mathematics for our Planet – 20 credits

This module provides the mathematical toolbox that will be used for all physical components, as well as numerical and computational aspects of the degree.

Programming and Data Science – 20 credits

You’ll be introduced to our computer system, mapping and different visualisation software as well as computer programming in Python and a brief look at the Linux operating system.

Introductory Earth Science – 20 credits

Discover the link between the rocks that we find at the Earth’s surface and the processes by which different types of rocks form. The concept of the rock cycle is an important part of the module, explaining how minerals and materials crystallise, erode, are transported, laid down, lithified, metamorphosed, and then re-melted through the tectonic cycle.

Optional modules

You’ll choose a selection of optional modules from a wide variety of modules taught in the Schools of Earth and Environment or Physics. These could cover areas like natural hazards, atmosphere, weather and sustainable development.

As we are reviewing the curriculum, we are unable to publish optional module titles at this time. We will provide a list of typical options soon.

Year 2

In your second year, compulsory modules provide you with the key techniques used to look inside and explore the Earth from the core to the atmosphere and near-Earth space. These include methods used to understand plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, as well as ocean and atmospheric currents. You'll be taught tools to investigate the near surface as used to enable civil engineering projects, locate and extract the resources we need to make batteries and wind turbines. You’ll also develop an understanding of the subsurface needed to find freshwater, trace pollutants and permit carbon sequestration.

Compulsory modules

Numerical Methods and Modelling – 20 credits

Explore the basic techniques needed for careful analysis of experimental data and solving numerical problems. You'll be introduced to the mathematical methods in the lectures and translate these into Python programs in the practical sessions.

Time Series Analysis and Inverse Theory – 20 credits

Learn the mathematical foundation for spectral analysis and filter theory as applied to the analysis of a large variety of data sets in applied and pure geophysical and atmospheric science. In the second part of the module, you’ll learn how to invert this data into relevant information about the physical processes represented by the data. Lectures are closely interwoven with computer exercises that bring data sets to life.

Environmental Geophysics – 20 credits

This module combines a field trip with lectures and practical sessions to teach you the fundamental skills of conducting and analysing environmental monitoring data through a range of different techniques. You'll develop skills in survey design, field safety, field data recording, quality control, processing, interpretation and the preparation and presentation of reports and maps. Practical sessions focus on the processing and interpretation of real data you’ve collected in the field.

Earth Observation of Tectonics and Climate – 20 credits

Remote sensing of the Earth's environment from space has revolutionised the ways in which we measure and perceive our planet. This module provides an understanding of how different satellite platforms work, how to critically assess their limitations and how to use acquired data to analyse plate tectonics, continental deformation and temperature distribution and radiation across the planet.

3D Earth – 20 credits

This module is linked to a geological fieldtrip and explores the three-dimensional nature of the Earth through time. You’ll integrate structural geology with the occurrence and nature of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks in the framework of plate tectonics. You’ll learn how to describe, quantify and interpret geological structures and how Earth’s history can be interpreted in two- and three-dimensions using geological maps and cross-sections.

Optional modules

You’ll choose a selection of optional modules from a wide variety of modules taught in the Schools of Earth and Environment or Physics. These could cover areas like fluid dynamics, climate change, science and impact, and atmosphere and ocean dynamics.

As we are reviewing the curriculum, we are unable to publish optional module titles at this time. We will provide a list of typical options soon.

Year 3

Your final year includes a project that allows you to do research with a member of academic staff on a topic of mutual interest. Typical projects could involve machine learning, the study of the Earth's core, computational physics, study of volcanic systems and earthquakes using satellite data and archaeological geophysics to name a few.

You’ll also explore the global structure and dynamics of our planet through compulsory modules and attend seminars from visiting researchers from around the world. Optional modules allow you to pursue interests in, for example, volcanic systems, engineering geology, environmental monitoring, climate change and applications in the energy sector.

Compulsory modules

Research Dissertation & Data Review – 40 credits

During this module, you’ll have the opportunity to complete an original research project. You’ll develop the powers of scientific observation and analysis, capabilities of interpreting and presenting results and discussing them in the context of previous work conducted in the field. In general, independent projects are based on a set of observations that you have collected yourself or have been provided by a supervisor from a fieldwork survey, laboratory experiment, numerical model or data bank.

A Sustainable Future for the Earth – 20 credits

Explore a wide range of topics that are relevant for our planet now and will be crucial for a sustainable future. Topics include green energies, CO2 sequestration, offshore wind farms, mining of essential minerals, freshwater resourcing and mitigating the consequences of global warming. You’ll critically explore and conceptually evaluate contemporary debates on the technical, economic, environmental and social issues related to these topics and bring together evidence from a variety of sources.

Synoptic Field School – 20 credits

This module combines a two-week international field trip (e.g., volcanic environment in Lanzarote, Canary Island) where students work in teams to acquire a multi-disciplinary data set with advanced data processing and interpretation tools in practical sessions back at Leeds. The emphasis during the field trip is on you developing your independent fieldwork using our specialist equipment, whilst working as a team. You’ll also build skills in planning, leadership, presentation and communication.

The Earth from Core to Atmosphere – 20 credits

In your final year, you’ll be able to combine and apply many aspects of your learned skills acquired throughout your degree, obtaining a complete picture of our planet from the Earth’s core to the atmosphere. The emphasis of this module is on problem solving, so you’ll master various advanced mathematical techniques for quantitatively analysing geophysical and atmospheric data.

Optional modules

You’ll choose a selection of optional modules from a wide variety of modules taught in the Schools of Earth and Environment or Physics. These could cover areas like volcanic processes, engineering geology, geoelectrics and structural geology for the future.

As we are reviewing the curriculum, we are unable to publish optional module titles at this time. We will provide a list of typical options soon.

Fieldwork

Ask any of our students and they will tell you that taking part in fieldwork is one of the most enjoyable and memorable aspects of the course. We offer a range of increasingly sustainable fieldwork opportunities, giving you the chance to study a fascinating subject in contrasting environments away from the University.

Field teaching is integrated with lectures and module coursework, giving you the opportunity to:

  • Practice the skills you have learnt in class in real-world situations.
  • Gain first-hand experience of collecting and analysing data.
  • Build valuable individual research skills – vital for your final year research project.
  • Develop professional skills sought after by employers like project planning, communication and teamwork.
  • Get to know your lecturers and fellow students even better.

Our field trips are designed to be as sustainable as possible and balance their carbon footprint with the learning outcomes of the trip.

One-year optional work placement or study abroad

During your course, you’ll be given the opportunity to advance your skill set and experience further. You can apply to either undertake a one-year work placement or study abroad for a year, choosing from a selection of universities we’re in partnership with worldwide.

Learning and teaching

Most modules combine lectures with practical sessions, workshops or seminars, depending on the subject. These are enhanced with skills classes, field trips and small group academic tutorials. You can expect to study in a variety of settings, from large lecture theatres to computer clusters, seminar rooms, tutorials, laboratories, visualisation suites and out in the field.

We offer research-led teaching across the breadth of our disciplines, from specialists in their field. As Leeds is a research-intensive Russell Group University, you’ll be studying amongst staff who are at the leading edge on research worldwide.

You'll have a designated personal tutor throughout your studies at Leeds, who will be an academic member of staff. You'll have fortnightly academic tutorials with your tutor throughout your first two years, in your tutor group (of typically 5 students), as well as one-to-one meetings twice per semester. In addition, our excellent student support team is there to help with anything from academic advice to timetabling and project submission enquiries. You'll also receive support from fellow students through our peer mentoring scheme.

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.

Assessment

You'll be assessed through a variety of methods, specifically designed to help students learn, whatever their preferred learning style. We use both coursework and exams, but with a general progression from an emphasis on exams in year 1 towards an emphasis on coursework in your final year.

Before you are assessed on a specific topic, you'll have received formative feedback on a very similar piece of work to help you with your preparations. We use, wherever appropriate, an approach towards authentic assessment, e.g., during fieldwork, you'll be assessed as if you were a ‘contractor’ considering teamwork and leadership skills alongside the scientific results. Communication and presentation skills are assessed throughout the degree to develop your transferrable skills.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB including Mathematics.

Where an A-Level Science subject is taken, we require a pass in the practical science element, alongside the achievement of the A-Level at the stated grade.

Excludes A-Level General Studies or Critical Thinking.

GCSE: English and Mathematics at grade C (4) or above, or an appropriate English language and Mathematics qualification. We will accept Level 2 Functional Skills English in lieu of GCSE English.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ): We recognise the value of this qualification and the effort and skills required to undertake it, where an applicant is taking the EPQ this may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. The EPQ taken with A-Levels, for example, could be ABB with an A in the EPQ.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, 30 credits with Distinction and the remaining 15 credits with Merit or above.

BTEC

DDM in National Extended Diploma/3 National Extended Certificates in two relevant subjects. We will accept a combination of BTECs and A-Levels. Please contact the School's Undergraduate Admissions Team for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

D2, M2, M2 including Mathematics.

International Baccalaureate

16 points at higher level to include 6,5,5, with at least 5 points in Mathematics.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

AAAABB/H2H2H2H2H3H3 including Mathematics.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AABBB overall with AB in 2 Advanced Highers (AH). For non-AH applicants AAAABB. To include Mathematics.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds A Level offer: BBB plus a pass in the Access to Leeds scheme.

For alternative qualification offers please contact the admissions team.

Foundation years

If you do not have the formal qualifications for immediate entry to one of our degrees, you may be able to progress through a foundation year.

We offer a Studies in Science with Foundation Year BSc for students without science and mathematics qualifications.

You could also study our Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year BSc which is for applicants whose background is less represented at university.

On successful completion of your foundation year, you'll be able to progress onto your chosen course.

International

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

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university. However, you must pay for incidental or personal expenses. For fieldwork, waterproofs and walking boots with ankle support are also necessary.

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 on our living costs and budgeting page.

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 is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Faculty of Environment Undergraduate Bursary

UK students eligible for a reduced grade contextual offer will receive a cash bursary worth £1,000 to help with some of the costs of being at university.

International Undergraduate Excellence Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded to high achieving and particularly deserving international students. There are limited scholarships available.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

We may consider applications submitted after the deadline. Availability of courses in UCAS Extra will be detailed on UCAS at the appropriate stage in the cycle.

Admissions guidance

Read our admissions guidance about applying and writing your personal statement.

What happens after you’ve applied

You can keep up to date with the progress of your application through UCAS.

UCAS will notify you when we make a decision on your application. If you receive an offer, you can inform us of your decision to accept or decline your place through UCAS.

How long will it take to receive a decision

We typically receive a high number of applications to our courses. For applications submitted by the January UCAS deadline, UCAS asks universities to make decisions by mid-May at the latest.

Offer holder events

If you receive an offer from us, you’ll be invited to an offer holder event. This event is more in-depth than an open day. It gives you the chance to learn more about your course and get your questions answered by academic staff and students. Plus, you can explore our campus, facilities and accommodation.

International applicants

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students.

We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Read about visas, immigration and other information here.

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

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Undergraduate Admissions

Email: admissions@see.leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

Climate change couldn’t be more pertinent than it is in society today. Organisations and governments rely on experts who can help comprehend the huge impact of climate on a regional or global scale – and create solutions for the future.

This degree will train you in how to deliver these crucial solutions. You’ll be equipped with a breadth of skills in geophysics and atmospheric science, giving you the ability to tackle the most pertinent and complex problems in Earth Sciences.

It’s this core knowledge you’ll gain from the course which will prove invaluable to employers worldwide, in both the public and private sectors. You’ll also build strong analytical, computational and numerical skills, alongside experience working in a team and independently – all sought after both in industry and transferable into many other careers, too.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 5 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2024, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Read our alumni profiles to find out more about where students from our School are now working.

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one. Our Leeds for Life initiative is designed to help you develop and demonstrate the skills and experience you need for when you graduate. We will help you to access opportunities across the University and record your key achievements so you are able to articulate them clearly and confidently.

You'll be supported throughout your studies by our dedicated Employability Team, who will provide you with specialist support and advice to help you find relevant work experience, internships and industrial placements, as well as graduate positions. You’ll benefit from timetabled employability sessions, support during internships and placements, and presentations and workshops delivered by employers.

You'll also have full access to the University’s Careers Centre, which is one of the largest in the country.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore the world, whilst gaining invaluable skills and experience that could enhance your future employability and career prospects too.

From Europe to Asia, the USA to Australasia, we have many University partners worldwide you can apply to, spanning across some of the most popular destinations for students.

This programme offers you the option to spend time abroad as an extra academic year and will extend your studies by 12 months.

Once you’ve successfully completed your year abroad, you'll be awarded the ‘international’ variant in your degree title which demonstrates your added experience to future employers.

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Work placements

A placement year is a great way to help you decide on a career path when you graduate. You’ll develop your skills and gain a real insight into working life in a particular company or sector. It will also help you to stand out in a competitive graduate jobs market and improve your chances of securing the career you want.

Benefits of a work placement year:

  • 100+ organisations to choose from, both in the UK and overseas
  • Build industry contacts within your chosen field
  • Our strong connections with industry mean you’ll be in direct contact with potential employers
  • Advance your experience and skills by putting the course teachings into practice
  • Gain invaluable insight into working as a professional in a particular company or sector
  • Improve your employability

If you decide to undertake a placement year, this will extend your period of study by 12 months and, on successful completion, you'll be awarded the ‘industrial’ variant in your degree title to demonstrate your added experience to future employers.

With the help and support of our dedicated Employability Team, you can find the right placement to suit you and your future career goals.

During your industrial placement, you'll have an industrial supervisor from within the company, plus an academic supervisor who will keep in touch throughout your placement.

Find out more about Industrial placements.