Earth Sciences (Geology)
Why study Earth Sciences at St Edmund Hall?
Thanks to the breadth of expertise from a wide range of tutors and Fellows, 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 (six each year) to read Earth Sciences. Our Earth Scientists form a very close-knit group and support each other academically as much as possible. With six members of academic staff associated with the College, there is a wide range of expertise on offer as well as a great deal of support.
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.
I love the breadth of study. The course isn’t just about the geology here, it’s about the Earth as a whole which has allowed me to discover interests in topics that I may not have otherwise developed.
Amber, Earth Sciences
The Earth Sciences are the focus of scientific understanding about this and other planets, embracing a vast 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 course draws upon many aspects of the physical sciences and places an inherent focus on practical and field work throughout the course.
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.
There are several excursions and research opportunities throughout the Earth Sciences degree, the travel and accommodation costs of which are covered by the department. Additionally, students at St Edmund Hall automatically receive funds to assist with the cost of their mapping project in the second year. The College also holds further funds for scientific travel and internships for which we invite proposals from students during their degree. Past students at the College have undertaken excursions ranging from museum internships to geological expeditions in the Tien Shan.
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.
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.
Find out more about our tutors below, and watch our short ‘Teddy Talks’ in which Roger Benson and Richard Walker each explain an aspect of their research (to a non-specialist audience).
Tutor for Admissions
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.
Professor of Tectonics, Vladimir Potanin Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow in Earth Sciences
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.
College Lecturer in Earth Sciences
Brooke Johnson is a College Lecturer in petrography. He researches the co-evolution of early eukaryotic life and Earth surface environments. Brooke’s work combines classical field geology and petrographic observation, with high resolution geochemical analysis in order to understand the role of the environment in shaping the evolution of early complex life.
College Lecturer in Earth Sciences and Materials Science
Dr Rebecca Nicholls is a College Lecturer who specialises in energy applications. She uses both electron microscopy and quantum mechanical simulations to predict and study the structure of materials at the nanoscale.