Human activity has borne some major consequences on our planet’s health. NASA predicts that without major action to lower emissions, global temperatures could rise up to 4.5 degrees Celsius — a point of no return which could have disastrous effects. The world needs capable, skilled and decisive professionals to pave the way towards mitigating these effects — now more than ever.
Enter Imperial College London. As the University of the Year in 2022 and one of the top universities in the world, Imperial is widely known for its expertise in science, engineering, business and medicine. Its Department of Earth Science and Engineering is a leading centre with over 160 years of experience, ranking second in the UK for Geology in The Times and Sunday Times World University Rankings 2022.
This reputation has caught the attention of major industry figures. Companies and governments alike continue to fund students to pursue their postgraduate studies here: British, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Colombian students, for instance, have attended these courses on full scholarships.
Much of this has to do with Imperial’s strong links to industry. The department itself often collaborates with most major energy companies and data-science start-ups, service companies and consultancies in the UK and beyond. Companies that have offered scholarships or internships include Aker, TotalEnergies, Schlumberger, Octopus Energy and Earth Science Analytics. These relationships ensure that programmes are regularly updated according to what the industry needs.
Here, postgraduate programmes stand out for their unique combination of academic excellence, technical support, and first-class facilities. Take the MSc Environmental Data Science and Machine Learning. The programme trains students in foundational computational and data science skills to be applied across the environmental sciences. Environmental big data is a central focus, alongside established modules in machine learning, computational science and modern programming skills.
Student Raluca Gaina says the programme is distinct in how versatile it is. She herself has a background in economics and statistics, and was looking to expand her knowledge in environmental science.
“The beautiful aspect of this programme is we all develop our technical skills together, regardless of background,” she shares. “You might have done your undergraduate degree in Geology and want to enhance your coding and computational skills, or you might have done Computer Science and want to apply your knowledge to environmental-related topics. This programme will prepare you for a career that focuses on climate science, data science or machine learning!”
The MSc Applied Computational Science and Engineering is just as impactful. Focused on educating future domain-specialists in computational science, this programme delves into numerical methods, computational science, applying novel science and engineering approaches to large-scale problems.
Similarly, the MSc Geo-energy with Machine Learning and Data Science looks into subsurface geoscience and engineering in the context of data science and machine learning. Students gain skills that can be applied to carbon dioxide storage, water management, hydrocarbon recovery, geothermal energy and other subsurface processes.
Every programme is designed to prepare students for future employment and education. For example, students have the chance to work in industry for their summer individual research projects. They are guided by both an industrial supervisor and a mentor at Imperial, allowing them to work in a technical capacity. Many students have been granted offers for permanent employment because of this opportunity.
In classes, students get scenario-driven prompts so that they can apply and explore theoretical concepts through a real-world lens. This was the case in Gaina’s Environmental Data module, where students analysed climate projections and developed strategies for hypothetical clients concerned with various climate phenomena. The impact of increased flood risks or rising temperatures were some scenarios students were asked to comment on.
Along the way, students pick up a range of other skills that boost their employability. Communication is one of them — and students practise this daily through presentations or mini-projects. “I think that no matter the job or position, being an effective communicator will help with meetings, pitches, presentations and overall relationship-building with colleagues,” says Gaina.
This only ensures that by the time students are ready to graduate, they enter the job market with full confidence in their abilities. In short, Imperial equips students with the tools, knowledge and capabilities that pave the way to career success — not only in their individual futures, but in their contribution to creating a greener, more sustainable world.