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Earth Sciences (Geology)

The Earth Sciences are the focus of scientific understanding about this and other planets, embracing an enormous range of topics, including the evolution of the solar system, the Earth and life, the nature of planetary interiors, the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, earth-surface processes and the origin and behaviour of oceans and atmosphere.

The emphasis of both our teaching and research is on understanding the fundamental principles of geological processes. Theory, measurements, experiments, and observation of natural processes are all essential elements in the Earth Sciences, and students with a strong background in all aspects of the physical sciences are encouraged to join the Department. 

Earth Sciences at St Edmund Hall

St Edmund Hall is a great place to study Earth Sciences. The College has a long tradition of Geology as a major subject, and has a large intake (6 each year) to read Earth Sciences. Our Earth Scientists form a very close-knit group and support each other academically as much as possible. The informal Earth Scientist’s society, Geologists of the Hall (GOTHs), hosts regular social events for students.

St Edmund Hall is home to excellent facilities for Earth Scientists, with an exceptionally strong selection of texts for the course held in our library, housed in the medieval church of St-Peter-in-the-East. Our High Street location means that the Earth Sciences faculty is just a few minutes away from College, on foot or by bike. 

The Tutors

Professor Richard Walker is an Earth Scientist interested in the study of earthquakes and the building of mountains within the continents. His work focuses on the interior of Asia, where there are long records of large and sometimes extremely destructive earthquakes. His research combines the analysis of satellite imagery of the Earth with intensive field investigation. Richard lectures on methods in structural geology and geological remote sensing, and teaches on undergraduate field classes in the UK and in Greece. You can find out more about his work by watching a short talk, 'Past and Future Earthquake Hazard in Asia', that he gave at the 2015 St Edmund Hall Research Expo below.

Professor Roger Benson is a palaeobiologist. His research focuses on understanding the origins of biodiversity by quantifying evolutionary processes on long timescales, especially in groups such as dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and the early ancestors of mammals. He teaches palaeobiology and evolution papers and basic geology. Learn more by watching his short introductory talk, ‘What can dinosaurs tell us about evolution?’, from the College's 2015 Research Expo below.

Rosalie Tostevin is an Earth Scientist interested in interactions between life and the environment on the early Earth. Her research includes experiments, field work, and chemical analysis of ancient sediments. She is a lecturer at St Edmund Hall, teaching sedimentology and geochemistry across all year groups. You can follow her on Twitter at @RosalieTostevin.



Around 40% of Oxford’s Earth Sciences graduates go on to further study, such as a PhD or Masters course to further their interests. Typical destinations for Earth Sciences graduates include the energy industry, the environmental sector, and engineering/ technical consultancies. Others move into areas that are not directly related to the field, but that their degree gives them transferable skills to excel in, such as the finance sector. 

Course Requirements

Entrance requirements for Earth Sciences at St Edmund Hall match those listed in the Oxford University Prospectus. Mathematics is a required subject, and should be accompanied by either Chemistry or Physics. Further Mathematics, Biology, Geology and Geography are all considered useful, but not essential, for the course.