Why study Earth sciences?

07 June 2021
Students studying in a laboratory

Earth science explores land surface and natural resources (ground, water, metals, soil and stones) as well as their husbandry. On your earth science degree, you’ll study the structure, processes, and properties of the planet, along with nearly 5 billion years of biological evolution. The term “earth sciences” includes the study of the atmosphere (meteorology), water flowing on or beneath continental surfaces (hydrology), and the oceans and seas (oceanography).

Ongoing developments in earth sciences provide an understanding of changing environments, the natural distribution of energy resources, and provide various methodologies for mitigating and predicting the effects of geological disasters such as earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.

An earth science degree involves study of all the sciences. There are many benefits to a degree in this field, including varied and exciting earth science careers, the opportunity to work anywhere around the globe, and the unique chance to make a positive difference in the world.

6 benefits of studying earth sciences

1. Work all over the world

A major benefit of earth science careers is that you can work anywhere in the world. Earth scientists are needed in all countries and all climates. Once you graduate from your earth sciences degree, you could be based on an exploration rig in the mountains of Alaska or in the Persian Gulf, in the Himalayas, Antarctica, or even on the ocean floor. You might spend your days locating groundwater in arid environments or studying volcanic areas of the world.

2. Fieldwork and research

Whichever specialism you choose as an earth scientist, you’re like to spend time in the office, field and laboratory. You’ll gather samples, take measurements, apply analytics, interpretation of results, 2D and 3D modelling, and presentation of reports. These findings and reports contribute to environmental policies around the world. This combination of fieldwork and research makes for an interesting and varied earth science career.

3. Transferable skills

During your earth science degree, you’ll develop specialised knowledge of the subject, but you’ll also gain plenty of skills that can transfer to other career paths and areas of life. Some of these transferable skills include:

  • Data collection
  • Observation
  • Analysis
  • Presenting information
  • Understanding and processing textual, oral, numerical, and graphical data

4. Study all the sciences

If you enjoy many different sciences, a degree in earth science could be perfect for you. You’ll develop your knowledge in chemistry, biology, physics, and maths, while also learning about mineralogy and geology.

5. Career opportunities

Whichever specialisation you choose, you’ll find plenty of job and career development opportunities. You might work in industries that manage oil and gas or groundwater, or work for a consultancy, or in civil construction. Alternatively, some earth science graduates find alternative employment in local museums, authorities, and government organisations.

There are a whole host of sub specialisms that you may choose. Mineralogy, soil science, palaeontology, geophysics and hydrology are just a few of the many exciting earth science career options.

6. Make a difference to the world

Earth Scientists make a real difference in the world; they make many valuable contributions to civilisation. Some examples of this include:

  • environmental sustainability planning, such as carbon capture and storage
  • finding and managing natural resources, such as hydrocarbons and minerals.
  • increasing awareness about climate change and its effects
  • observing geohazards and forecasting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
  • dealing with groundwater and finding solutions to pollution-free water
  • studying the strength of bedrock and working to support dams, tunnels, roads, and power stations

Study earth sciences in the UK

The International Study Centre at Durham University runs programmes especially for international students like you.

At the International Study Centre, you can expect support from experienced staff in all areas of your UK studies and life. Our programmes prepare you for the challenges of degree-level study and upon completion, you can progress to full-time study at Durham University.

International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering

The International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering is a three-term programme. Upon successful completion of the programme, you can go onto study for your earth sciences degree at a Top 100 university. On the programme, you will gain a foundation in science and engineering concepts, as well as studying core mathematics and chemistry modules to improve your theoretical and practical skills. You will also learn study skills and enhance your English language skills, so you’re ready for degree study at Durham University.