5 prominent schools in Earth and Ocean Sciences

Perhaps the most important area of study in the world today, Earth and Ocean studies help us make sense of the planet we are living on. Understanding the planet paves the way for supporting life and resources in a sustainable manner, as well as helping to predict and monitor climate changes and geological hazards.

Using research and state-of-the-art technologies, Earth scientists support and develop our understanding of the planet’s processes and resources – which in turn inevitably leads to a better quality of life for humans and our environment.

Governmental agencies, research organisations and institutes, global organisations and broadcast firms are among the potential suitors for Earth and Ocean Science graduates, whose degrees are capable of taking them anywhere on the globe.

Below are five UK universities driving innovation in the Earth and Ocean Sciences space…


Studying at Keele University’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment opens the door to a wide range of careers and disciplines applicable to every organisation and industry. Two undergraduate environmental programmes run within the school; one in Environment and Sustainability, and one in Environmental Science, both of which are accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.  Both programme teachers build close working relationships for top results.

The  Environment and Sustainability course crosses the traditional divide between the natural and social sciences, providing students with the necessary range of perspectives needed to understand environmental and sustainability issues, as well as to develop new ideas and strategies to build a sustainable future. The programme is a leader in its field, offering students the unique chance to explore a subject of major relevance in today’s society and apply it to diverse global contexts.

The Environmental Science programme draws on the expertise of scientists across the university – including life sciences, chemical sciences and geosciences – to explore the understanding, analysis and management of environmental problems. Students here develop a broad range of practical, laboratory and field-based expertise they take into future employment.

As one of the world’s leading sustainable universities, Keele provides an abundance of opportunities. Students can get involved with sustainability developments on the campus, as well as in work placements through Keele’s wide range of connections in the environmental industry. On top of this, research projects with staff present the perfect stepping stone for student success post-study.


Established in 1891, the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University fosters world-class research and a faculty of more than 55 academics, including two Fellows of the Royal Society. Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s civic centre, the school neighbours the National Museum of Wales, which features an impressive geological collection.

Cardiff boasts an array of partnerships and ties with industry sponsors. From geotechnical and marine surveying firms to oil and gas companies; industry sponsors help support the school’s research, undergraduate placement offerings, and taught postgraduate programmes. Partners include Total, Titan, BR Petrobras, First Quantum, and the Government of Western Australia, among many more.

There are three broad research groups at the school, each responsible for addressing key research themes across Earth and Ocean sciences:

  • Solid: Deals with the composition and dynamic evolution of the Earth’s mantle and crust
  • Living: Focuses on the Earth’s surface, including in and under its oceans
  • Changing: Investigates the causes and consequences of changes in the Earth’s systems.

State-of-the-art facilities and equipment underpin the specialist research conducted in all branches of Earth and Ocean Sciences. The school utilises the latest analytical techniques and facilities, including a 3D seismic laboratory, which utilises high-resolution, industry-sourced seismic data and cutting-edge analytical and interpretive techniques to address a range of research questions.


Initially established to design and implement an interdisciplinary programme of research and training in environmental economics and environmental management, the Environment Department at the University of York subsequently expanded to incorporate environmental science and geography.

Faculty combines methods and insights from across the social sciences and beyond to understand the social, spatial, political, economic and cultural of key contemporary environmental challenges.

The Department is a leading centre for teaching and research, providing sustainable solutions to some of the most challenging issues faced by our world today. In 2015, the school ranked as a QS World Top 100 department, with staff members being experts in a wide range of environment and geographical disciplines. The department develops cutting-edge tools, techniques and management strategies to inform policy, with a goal of facilitating a move towards sustainable living in the 21st century and beyond.

Topics of global environmental importance form the basis of York’s world-leading research. Staff and students use a combination of physical, biological, chemical, social and economic science approaches, used to understand the causes of change and implications for the sustainability of human life and the planet.


Formed of a diverse and eclectic collection of academic staff who share a mutual interest in the Earth, the School of Geosciences at Aberdeen is at the forefront of research around three core academic disciplines: Archaeology, Geography and the Environment, Geology & Petroleum Geology.

Research and teaching here takes students from the origins of life to the future of transport; from the deepest ocean to the crest of the Himalayas, from Stone Age villages to the canyons of New York City.

Research ranges across the entirety of geosciences in both the social and natural sciences, addressing topics as diverse as mitigation of E. coli risk, to development of the topography of Sakhalin. The school also recognises topics that every department can help advance, such as: future energy options, development of digital societies, catastrophic natural processes, hydrology and drainage evolution, and human impacts on the natural environment.

Staff at the School of Geosciences also recognise a duty to its local area and community; maintaining the technology base which underpins the economy of the city and the region, to assist articulation and debate of policy options, and to help local people gain an awareness of the history and environment of their region.


The four main research themes at QMUL’s School of Geography are: Culture, Space and Power; Economy, Development and Social Justice; Health Biosciences and Security; and Earth Surface Science.

Students who wish to explore the Earth Surface Science topic will investigate how landscapes respond to interacting chemical, physical and biological processes; while Culture, Space and Power students will explore the geographies of cultural practices, forms and knowledges and the cultural dimensions of historic geographical processes.

The Economy, Development and Social Justice course challenges conventional geographical and sub-disciplinary boundaries, bringing together insights of political economy and social geography. Research in Health, Biosciences and Security has a significant and continuing impact on policy and practice both inside and out of the discipline.

The Laboratory and Field Suite at the School of Geography supports research carried out by staff and students concerned with environmental systems, their processes, and their interactions in the past, present and future. Students are provided with the opportunity to explore diverse research topics in a hands-on and thorough manner, deploying observational, experimental and computational techniques.

Research here is built upon strong industry collaborations, both on a national and international in scope. The QMUL education also serves as a teaching platform for the next generation of ecosystem and earth system scientists, ensuring students can independently analyse and research their own unique topics.

*Some of the institutions mentioned in this article are commercial partners of Study International

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

5 global universities to study the Environment and Agriculture

5 US leaders of agriculture, environment, and sustainability education