Geology, earth science, geoscience - what is the difference?

(37 Posts)
purplegreen99 Fri 16-Feb-18 14:32:20

Are these different names for the same thing or different/wider/narrower subjects than one another? And, if different, would they all be as useful/highly regarded for future study or careers?

I am trying to get some ideas for talking through options with my nephew. He is interested in doing a degree in geology or similar, doesn't want to work in the oil industry (which seems to be a big employer of geologists), but interested in maybe going on to PG study and working in an environmental area like floods or erosion.

And if any geologists/earth scientists have any ideas for relevant work experience, volunteering, reading, etc, that would be much appreciated too.

OP’s posts: |
Leeds2 Fri 16-Feb-18 16:51:05

Would the National Trust offer anything suitable? I know they offer lots of volunteering opportunities, but not sure if in that particular field.

antshouse Fri 16-Feb-18 19:55:38

Maybe he could join a local branch of the natural history society . Ours has geology section.

ttlshiwwya Fri 16-Feb-18 20:46:21

I asked DS2 who is studying Earth Science and he says all the same thing. Difference is in the modules offered. Where he is studying there is a common earth science course for 2 years before a choice between a traditional geology degree for those aiming for mining/hydrocarbon type job and an environmental geoscience degree for those aiming for environmental consultancy or environmental research. Your nephew should have a look at the module catalogue for the courses he's interested in.

For work experience he could try for a Nuffield research placement or some unis do a summer school for applicants. There are also volunteering opportunities near us in the national park. My DS2 says just getting out and about in the hills, mountains, coasts is useful.

purplegreen99 Fri 16-Feb-18 20:47:17

Thanks Leeds2 and antshouse. Not sure about National Trust as local NT places to him are (I think) all historic houses rather than land or coastline, but will check. I will suggest a natural history society - I didn't think of this covering geology too, so thanks for the idea.

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Shadowboy Fri 16-Feb-18 20:49:33

My husband environmental earth science and is a water resources consultant.

I did environmental law and currently teaching geology/geography in school. I am technically trained to practice law but I didn’t enjoy it. Hence the teaching frog/geol.

One of my students did hazard management at university and is currently working in chile with the government looking at fault zones etc

Shadowboy Fri 16-Feb-18 20:50:03

That should say my husband studied environmental earth science!


StarDanced Fri 16-Feb-18 20:55:45

Hi. I have a PhD in Geology and they are all the same thing. When i first got onto my degree it was geoscience and then the department changed its name to Earth Science a couple of years later. The course composition did not change at all.
Career options are really diverse and he absolutely does not have to go into the oil industry. There are lots of career opportunities in environmental hazards etc. With regard to work experience it is not essential to getting onto a geology degree program (speaking as both geologist and teacher). He could look at museums nearby. Reading a lot around the subject is good. Also if you are anywhere near the south coast there might be volunteering opportunities around Lyme Regis . Going to places of geological interest is a good plan- Scotland and Lake District have an excellent range of rock types. If you have any further questions please ask and I'll do my best to answer them

purplegreen99 Fri 16-Feb-18 21:20:04

Thanks Stardanced and Shadowboy - just showed your answers to my nephew (staying with us for half term but thinks I am more clued up on HE than his parents confused). It's good to get an idea of where this degree could lead and also thanks for the clarification about the course title - he said he thought one of the courses he was looking at had changed its name, so that now makes sense!

He's not near the coast but I think there's a local history museum near him so he's going to look there. Will talk to my brother about holiday destinations too. We often go on walking weekends as a family so will look at choosing locations that would be of geological interest. I live in London so he has also been looking for Geology Society talks that he could go to on days when he could stay over with us.

OP’s posts: |
spababe Sat 17-Feb-18 16:50:35

Check out the environment agency and your local water board as they can offer relevant work experience. Also there are lots of environmental consultants so googling one near you is worth a try. I think it's a great career choice to do enviro/geo as so many companies need this expertise eg cleaning up brownfield sites before building.

If you live in London I have a leaflet that might be of interest showing all the different rock types in important buildings eg Houses of Parliament and if you google you will find UCL have self guided urban geology walks.

UnimaginativeUsername Sat 17-Feb-18 16:53:56

To make things more complicated, he could also look at physical geography degrees.

AgnesSkinner Sun 18-Feb-18 20:10:51

I did undergrad Geological Sciences and post grad Engineering Geology and worked on the foundation design aspects of major civil engineering projects. If your DN is interested in flood or coastal management then a Masters in something like Geoenvironmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Engineering Geology, Environmental Science would be advantageous.

user1483644229 Sun 18-Feb-18 20:19:39

Essentially they are the same thing. Worth noting that they will fairly scientific being a physical science subject and so make sure he is ready for that. The alternative is to Geography with papers focusing on social aspects for example he could consider city planning. I think look at his strong subjects now to work out if he is strong on science or if he is stronger in the ‘arts’.

AgnesSkinner Sun 18-Feb-18 22:00:49

My undergrad degree was quite maths / physics / chemistry heavy, and a full timetable with morning lectures and afternoon labs. Masters was pretty mathematical. DH did Geophysics which is very maths heavy (and turned out to be much more lucrative).

Largebucket Sun 18-Feb-18 22:03:06

At the uni I’m at geology and earth science are part of the overall School of Geosciences

TefalTester123 Sun 18-Feb-18 22:15:01

National Trust do working holidays, including some targetted at 15-18yo. Also I think peak district national park have some too. They are targetted at people doing Gold DofE, but might be of some use?

purplegreen99 Mon 19-Feb-18 13:27:07

Thanks for all the replies & so much useful information. My nephew's gone home now (was staying with us for half term) but I've sent him a link to this thread so he can see all of the answers and suggestions & will also get my brother (his dad) to take a look as well.

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dreamingofsun Wed 21-Feb-18 10:39:48

purple - how old is your nephew? has he chosen his A levels yet? Most of the uni's my son applied to wanted at least 2 sciences - geography and geology counted.

purplegreen99 Thu 22-Feb-18 16:08:01

He's in Y12 dreaming. His A levels are chemistry, economics and geography. I think he would have chosen maths instead of history if he'd decided on geology sooner but, as you say, most universities seem to ask for 2 sciences and geography counts.

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dreamingofsun Fri 23-Feb-18 10:04:46

there's quite a lot of chemistry in my son's geology degree so thats good along with maths which our nehphew sounds good at. we found that all uni's wanted ABB, except for bristol which wanted slightly higher and portsmouth/plymouth which wanted slightly lower. it seemed to be one the slightly less competitive degrees to get onto. there was a survey a while back that said geology grads earnt the most in the ST at least, even above bankers

purplegreen99 Fri 23-Feb-18 20:17:55

Thanks dreaming. That's good to know the chemistry will be helpful. He was surprised (and I think quite relieved) when he looked up the entry requirements. Hopefully this means there is a shortage of good geologists!

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purplegreen99 Sat 03-Mar-18 09:59:41

Hope someone can help with another question from my nephew as he's found all the info so far really helpful: how important is it to choose a course that is accredited by the Geology Society? Apparently the Geoscience course at Nottingham looks amazing but isn't accredited. Is it better for future study or career to choose an accredited one?

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dreamingofsun Sat 03-Mar-18 10:24:02

posting partly because i'm interested in answers too. i would have thought its very important as surely for a lot of jobs they would expect them to be members of the geology the same way you need to be for a lot of other professions. It also raises the question of why it isnt an acreddited one?

dreamingofsun Sat 03-Mar-18 10:26:47

just had a quick look on my son's 2 final choices and they both have the fact that its accredited to geological society prominently on front page

Frankiestein401 Sat 03-Mar-18 10:47:37

I'm talking a decade back but three was a lot of competition for geologists actually working in geology - you have the big corps, shell, Exxon, whoever owns Schlumberger now, lots of consultancies, the mining corps, with some roles in building/transport - the big corps used to shed when oil prices dropped and recruit when it rose.
historically geology was Rocks and minerals, earth science brought in water, oil, gas and geoscience brought in the scientific techniques supporting exploration - geomagnetic measurement, neutron/gamma logging, masses of geochemistry - at the university course level I'd expect everything to be covered as others have said.

being an exploration geologist will often entail global mobility to some extreme sites and you can always spot a geologist because they'll be carrying a hammer and show an inordinate interest in quarries.

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