School of Earth and Environment

Structural Geology with Geophysics MSc

(Full time) 2017 start

Masters in Structural Geology with Geophysics


Key facts

  • Duration/Mode:
    12 months full time
  • UK/EU fees: £9,500 (total)
    International fees: £23,250 (total)
  • Entry requirements:
    A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a related subject
  • Language requirements:
    IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
  • Course terms and conditions

The only applied structural geology Masters in the UK. Providing you with advanced training in the practical application of structural geology, preparing you either for employment in the hydrocarbon or mining industries or for postgraduate study (PhD).

You’ll gain a skillset combining advanced structural techniques and interpreting seismic data, an understanding of structural systems in time and space, and an appreciation of both the geological and geophysical constraints of seismic interpretation and model building.

This will enable you to use a combination of structural and geophysical techniques to solve geological problems. As a capable seismic interpreter you’ll be able to contribute in an industry role from day one.

Our teaching is research led, with direct links to active applied research. You’ll be taught by a range of research and industry experts, as well as through industry-led workshops. Strong industry links are a feature of this course.

Alumni Profile

"I have been fortunate enough to travel the world attending and presenting at conferences, working on overseas assignments and undertaking field work – all thanks to the masters course!"

Phil Jones, Specialist Structural Geologist, Statoil, Norway

Read More

Course highlights:

  • The only applied structural geology Masters in the UK, offering you a route to both industry or a PhD.
  • Unlike other petroleum/ ore geoscience courses in the UK, which only provide you with broad training in all aspects of petroleum and ore geology. At Leeds, apply your skills, tools, and knowledge in structural geology and tectonics to exploration settings, datasets, and problems.
  • A key focus of this Masters is on understanding structural evolution in various settings and the use of 3D and 4D thinking in geological contexts. Skills that are essential for your employment in industry.
  • Gain an international standard of Masters qualification in 12 months rather than 24. We deliver focused, advanced teaching linked to a research project (in contrast to the more research-oriented US Masters).
  • Undertake free fieldwork in the UK and EU that is directly linked to your classroom learning.
  • Choose from hydrocarbon and mining module options, depending on your interests.
  • Access high-spec computing facilities and industry-standard software.
  • Produce an industry or research focused dissertation in your final year.


The following fieldwork to the UK and overseas is free, and forms an integral part of the course. It is directly linked to learning outcomes in the classroom.

  • An introductory field day to Ingleton, North Yorkshire.
  • A 6-day trip to the South West of England. Consider both extensional and compressional tectonics, basin-scale to fault to reservoir scale deformation, fault seal analysis, kinematic and geometric fault evolution, restorations, and 3D fault analysis.
  • A 12-day trip to the Central Spanish Pyrenees. This trip serves as a summary trip where you will pull together elements from the entire course. Consider regional scale orogenic deformation through to basin scale to fracture scale. And the influence of sediment-structure interaction in basin evolution, and tie outcrop scale observations with seismic examples.

Programme Team

You will be taught by a number of staff from within the School of Earth and Environment. The profiles of the following teaching staff give you a flavour of what we bring to the course in both industry and research expertise.

In addition to modules listed, all staff are also involved in running dissertation projects aligned to their research interests.

Dr Taija Torvela (Prog Leader) Dr Richard Collier
Dr Douglas PatonDr Geoff Lloyd
Dr Emma BramhamDr Steve Freeman
Professor Paul GloverDr Doug Angus
Dr Tim NeedhamDr Rob Chapman
Professor Graham StuartDr Andew McCaig

Course content

Develop personal skills and a professionalism that will make you employable, as well as increasing your knowledge and technical ability.

You will take 9 months of taught classes, followed by approximately 3 months of independent research and dissertation writing in association with industry or research collaborators.

Carry-out free fieldwork, which forms an integral part of the course, and is directly linked to learning outcomes in the classroom. Besides local visits, there is a 6-day trip to South West England and a 12-day visit to the Spanish Pyrenees.

Some of the modules you will study are spread over 2 semesters, while most are short and intensive. They are devised to develop your advanced understanding of key topics (including large scale tectonics, basin evolution and reservoir scale deformation) and your technical ability through the use of industry-leading software.

Begin, by reviewing the fundamentals of structural geology, maps, and mathematics before moving onto the more advanced modules.

You’ll receive advanced training in structural geology and tectonics, in geological model construction, and the practical application of structural geology. And gain training in interpreting seismic data and the principals underlying data acquisition and processing.

You’ll also undertake professional and research level training in structural geology and basin evolution from regional, to basin, to reservoir/deposit scale.

In semester 2, you can choose from hydrocarbon or mining modules.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Structural Geology Independent Project 60 credits
  • Applied Geophysical Methods 15 credits
  • Integrated Sub Surface Analysis 30 credits
  • Applied Structural Models 20 credits
  • Geomechanics 10 credits
  • Applied Geodynamics and Basin Evolution 15 credits
  • 3D Structure: Techniques and Visualisation 15 credits

Learning and teaching

Teaching is varied, with some of your modules being very practical based e.g. fieldwork, presentations, learning new software. While other methods are tutorial or lecture based. You will also have the opportunity to work individually or as a group. Regardless of method, you will be supported by substantial online learning material.


The School of Earth and Environment’s £23m building gives you access to world-class research, teaching and laboratory facilities. As a Masters student, you will have access to a 3D visualisation suite, and to your own dedicated computer facilities, which runs industry standard software.

Industry standard software:

  • 2D and 3D seismic interpretation is done via Kingdom Suite software.
  • Geocellular modelling is delivered on the Petrel platform.
  • Structural modelling and restoration is learnt using Midland Valley's 2DMove software.
  • PCs run a range of structural modelling, GIS and 3D visualisation programmes.
  • If you choose the optional Ore Deposits module, train in Leapfrog 3D deposit modeller.


Given the variety of learning outcomes and teaching methods, you will be assessed differently between modules but generally assessed on a combination of presentations, practicals and/or formal examinations.

Alumni Profile

"My MSc in Structural Geology with Geophysics has given me knowledge and skills that I can apply directly to my work on a daily basis."

Sian Bright, Structural Consultant, Australia

Read More

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a geological, geophysical, environmental geology, mining or related subject. Mathematics to A-level is also preferred, although GSCE level is accepted.

If you have a lower qualification and a non-standard geology degree, you may be considered on an ad-hoc basis, supported by relevant experience. You may also have to take an entrance exam.

International qualifications

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the School of Earth and Environment admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Science and Engineering B (6 weeks) and Language for Science and Engineering A (10 weeks).

How to apply

Read School of Earth and Environment advice on how to apply.

Application deadline

This course is very competitive. We advise you to submit your application for 2017 entry as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Visas and Immigration

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU fees: £9,500 (total)
International fees: £23,250 (total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

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 about additional costs

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 may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Industry scholarships

We appreciate that funding to undertake a postgraduate degree is a significant issue for individual students.

Based on the course's long history of turning out well qualified graduates, we have strong company links which typically offer a number of studentships available for UK/EU students (full and partial awards).

Find out more about our Industry scholarships.

Petroleum Leeds scholarships

You cannot apply directly for this scholarship but you will be automatically considered if you have applied for an Industry scholarship, and are not in receipt of any other source of funding. Scholarships are worth £5,000.

Other funding sources:

Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB)

For information about full and partial scholarship awards, visit PESGB. Applications should be made directly to PESGB.

Society of Exploration Geophysicist (SEG)

For information about full and partial scholarship awards, visit SEG. Applications should be made directly to SEG.

Career Development Loan

Past students have secured funding through a career development loan, for details visit UK Government website.

***If you are thinking of funding the course yourself you should consider that graduates have a high success rate in gaining (generally well paid) employment.***

Career opportunities

More than 80% of 2014-15 graduates secured relevant employment or a PhD project within 6 months of finishing the course, despite the current industry downturn.

In previous years, nearly 100% of students have successfully secured employment in the petroleum or mining industries or have chosen to undertake a postgraduate research degree (PhD).

Starting salaries are usually around £30-35,000 per year.

We have excellent links with industry and professional bodies.

Throughout the year, we hold weekly recruitment visits where you will meet a range of geoscience employers including BG Group, BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Fugro Robertson, Maersk Oil, Nexen, Shell, and many others.

We also run company-led training workshops to develop your industry software skills in Petrel, Leapfrog, and MOVE.

The workshops also provide you with further opportunities for training, conference attendance and involvement with Student Chapters such as The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), The European Association of Geoscientist and Engineers (EAGE), The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), The Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) and The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB).


Careers support

We offer extra support and activities to help you stand out in your chosen field and achieve your career goals. In particular, you will have further opportunities for training, conference attendance and involvement with Student Chapters (AAPG, EAGE, SPE, SEG, PESGB).

You will develop transferable skills, ranging from personal abilities such as 4D thinking, time management, and critical and analytical thinking. To more generic work-related skills such as teamwork, presentation skills and report writing, and CV writing skills.

The School of Earth and Environment has a strong commitment to enhancing student employability and has its own dedicated Employability Officer. Read more about our careers and employability.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Alumni Profile

"The course was really enjoyable and made me realise what aspects of geology I am interested in and the direction in which I wanted to take my career."

Alan Wood, PhD student, University of Leeds

Read More

Alumni Profile

"The course allowed me to meet and work with people from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities, forging great contacts in companies and PhD programmes around the world."

Xavier Moonan, Petrotin, Trinidad and Tobago

Read More

Industry links

We have very strong links with industry, which you’ll benefit from throughout the year. This includes the provision of scholarships, data for dissertation projects, teaching of short courses and free licenses for industry standard software.

We’re continually developing new relationships with industry; below is a summary of some of the links that we have.

Short courses and software training courses

An increasing number of companies provide short courses to complement the course, including Shell, BP, Midland Valley and Badleys. Although not a formal component of the degree, they provide an excellent opportunity to interact with industry experts and work on currently active exploration/production data.

Courses range from exploration/development team games, application of fault seal analysis concepts to exploration data though to specific software training provided by software companies.

Industrial recruitment visits

We have weekly presentations from companies encompassing the industry spectrum, including the largest multinationals, specialised consultancies and service companies.

This gives you a unique opportunity to hear technical presentations and information about graduate recruitment schemes and employment opportunities. A number of companies also arrange first round interviews when they visit.


We have established close links with a number of companies to ensure that your dissertation is relevant and directly linked with industry through placements, projects, data and project supervision.

Open day presentations

The culmination of the Masters year is the final presentation and open day in September, where you will be expected to present the outcomes of your dissertation to an invited audience of industrial and academic contacts.

Other opportunities

You can participate in a number of student chapters within the School (AAPG, EAGE, SPE, SEG, PESGB) who organise regular lectures and events. There is also an opportunity for you to attend conferences and industry events.

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