Geology - Applied Environmental Geoscience

Course Outline
Our MSc Applied Environmental Geoscience programme will provide you with comprehensive training in the theory and practice of environmental geoscience. Established in 2017, in consultation with industry and government agencies, our Geology programme was established by the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) in order to address a skills shortage identified in the environmental geoscience sector in Ireland.

There is global demand for graduates with applied environmental geoscience skills and this demand is projected to grow in the coming years. This multidisciplinary vocational programme equips graduates for careers in scientific, engineering, and environmental consultancies, natural resources and mining industries, regulatory agencies, and research in Ireland and further afield. Our course content is regularly reviewed by a panel of industry advisors from a range of local and international geoscience practice areas in order to meet the ongoing needs of the geoscience sector.

Our course also offers a unique opportunity for international students to gain EU-based work experience whilst studying for their Masters.

The course is delivered in two parts.

Part I comprises modules to the value of 60 credits involving field study, lectures, practical classes, seminars, and workshops.

Part II consists of a research dissertation based on independent research to the value of 30 credits (GL6019) which is completed between April and September.

Why Choose This Course
During Semester 1, Students of this MSc programme will have the opportunity to use a range of geotechnical techniques in the Soil Mechanics Laboratory based in the School of Civil Engineering. They also have access to industry-standard hydrogeological field equipment in the School of BEES research facilities. This equipment will be used extensively in Semester 2 to undertake various on-site samplings and to develop conceptual site models using borehole networks installed on UCC campus.

As part of the offshore geology module in Semester 2, students will have the opportunity to participate in seabed mapping and surveying on board the RV Celtic Explorer, one of two dedicated research vessels operated by the Irish Marine Institute.

Course participants also have access to the School of Chemistry analytical facilities as well as to dedicated office space and computing facilities including geoscience software packages.

The School of BEES and programme delivery team enjoys excellent links with world-class Irish research centres and participating institutions including:

- Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG)
- Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI)
- Insight Centre for Data Analytics (INSIGHT)

Industry collaborators
A distinctive feature of our Applied Environmental Geoscience programme is the delivery of content by industry practitioners with expertise in specialist areas of the course and with a focus on real-world challenges and solutions.

Industry collaborators who have contributed to the programme to date have included the following individuals and organisations:

David Norbury
Gerry Baker (Arup, Dublin)
James Dunne and Stephen McCarthy (Fehily Timoney & Company)
Jim Hodgson (Geological Survey Ireland, Dublin)
Jim Wragg (Geosyntec, Delph)
Kevin Cleary (Verde Environmental)
Kevin Forde (Aecom, Cork)
Kevin Ryan (Cork City Council)
Marie Fleming (Arup, Dublin)
Michael Lehane, Jonathan Derham, and selected staff (EPA, Wexford)
Mike Long (University College Dublin)
Paul Quigley and selected staff (Irish Geotechnical Services Ltd)
Sean Moran (O'Callaghan Moran & Associates)
Tim McGillycuddy (Priority Geotechnical)
Yvonne O'Connell (Apex Geoservices)

Industry placement and research project
Students spend from April to September working with an industry partner in Part II of the MSc programme where a dissertation and seminar are completed by the end of September.

This industry placement and research project allows students to develop their own interests and carry out an independent investigation on an environmental geoscience topic of their choice. Students also complete certified training courses in construction site health and safety and basic sea survival techniques aboard ships to enable them to carry out any fieldwork as part of their placement.

Projects are chosen from a list of topics circulated earlier in the year and may be any combination of field, laboratory, or data analysis. Students interested in research may opt for projects linked to national research centres such as iCRAG and MaREI. All projects are supervised by one or more academic staff members from the School of BEES.

Examples of recent industry projects include:

Aggregate available for land drainage systems: determination of physical and hydraulic properties and influencing factors (Teagasc, Moore Park)

An Investigation into the degradation of concrete blocks by Mica (IGSL Ltd)

An Investigation of leachate migration in off-site groundwater at a historic municipal landfill (Cork City Council)

Fossil water in a transboundary aquifer system: the sustainability, quality and future of a non-renewable freshwater resource (GEMS Water, UN Development Centre, UCC)

Hydrographic surveying, processing, and the marine geology of Irish coastal regions (Geological Survey Ireland, Dublin)

The occurrence of heavy metals in soils in Co. Dublin and the implications on human health and contaminated land management (O'Callaghan Moran & Associates)

The role of ground conditions in wind turbine foundation design: a case study from Co. Limerick (Arup, Cork)

Connected Curriculum
Our connected learning approach reflects our commitment to the Connected Curriculum where we emphasise the connection between students, learning, research and leadership through our vision for a Connected University. Our staff are at the forefront of this integrative approach to learning and will support you in making meaningful connections within and between disciplines such as geology, marine science, engineering, and the environment.

Available Scholarships
We support our postgraduate community by offering scholarships and bursaries to prospective and current students. Please see the SEFS Scholarships and Funding PG page for more information.

Subjects taught

Part 1 Module
• EV6011
Principles of Environmental Assessment and Monitoring (10 credits)

Aim of Module
To introduce the principles and step by step procedures for designing a water quality monitoring programme for freshwater bodies.

• GL6020
Hydrogeology, Contaminated Land and Assessment (10 credits)

Aim of Module
To teach the principles and applications of hydrogeology, contaminant hydrogeology and contaminated land risk assessment and remediation.

• GL6021
Engineering Geology (10 credits)

Aim of Module
The development of an understanding of the basic principles of soil and rock mechanics with specific reference to civil engineering design.

• GL6022
Environmental Planning and Regulation (5 credits)

Aim of Module
To equip the students with the core principles, concepts and rules of Irish and EU environmental and planning regulation and how this applies to their career as an environmental geoscientist.

• GL6023
Offshore Environmental Geology (5 credits)

Aim of Module
To give students experience in seabed mapping techniques and practice; seabed sampling techniques and practice; sub-seabed imaging techniques and practice; seabed monitoring techniques and practice; offshore survey planning; offshore geological data collection, evaluation and assessment.

• GL6024
Applied Geophysics (5 credits)

Aim of Module
To teach the principles, applications and provide hands-on experience in a variety of commonly used geophysical techniques to study the shallow subsurface for environmental geology.

• GL6025
Geoinformatics for Environmental Geology (5 credits)

Aim of Module
To give students a solid grounding on the key concepts, principles and theory of GIS, Remote Sensing, global satellite positioning systems, and related geoinformatics technologies, their use in the Environmental Sciences, and practical techniques of spatial data analysis.

• GL6028
Applied Hydrogeology Skills (5 credits)

Aim of Module
To develop key field and numeracy skills required to undertake hydrogeological investigations.

• GL6029
Applied Geotechnical Skills (5 credits)

Aim of Module
Develop field, laboratory and data analysis skills to meet entry-level industry requirements in engineering geology.

Part II
• GL6019
Applied Environmental Geology research project (30 credits)

Aim of Module
To carry out an independent research project on a topic within the field of Environmental Geology. This project will be carried out either in an industry setting or as part of a research group within the School of BEES.

You can find more information in our University Calendar (MSc Applied Environmental Geoscience).

Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our book of modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar
You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Entry requirements

Candidates must hold at least a Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours degree (NFQ Level 8) or equivalent in a Geological/Earth Sciences/Civil Engineering/Environmental Sciences area or a related relevant degree or have reached an equivalent standard through completion of a relevant postgraduate qualification.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland:
Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements, please find our grades comparison by country here.

International/non-EU applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Application dates

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course
Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to two courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online
Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the online application portal. Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a non-refundable €50 application fee for all courses apart from the Education - Professional Master of Education - (Secondary School/Post-Primary Teacher Training) which has a €100 application fee.

Applicants for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Nursing must apply on the PAC website when the programme opens for applications.

3. Gather Supporting Documents
Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to the online application portal in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

- Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC

- Any supplementary items requested for your course.

Please log into the online application portal for more details.

4. Application processing timeline
Our online application portal opens for applications for most courses in early November of each year. Check specific course details.

5. Rounds
For courses that are in the rounds system (Irish and EU applicants), please check the rounds closing dates.

Questions on how to apply?
Please use our web enquiry form to contact us.

The closing date for non-EU applications is 15 June.


1 year Full-time, 2 Years Part-time.

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
Our MSc-qualified environmental geoscience graduates are in high demand for technical roles in both the public and private sectors at home and abroad.

In the first year of the programme, over 90% of our participants were in full-time employment or research related to their MSc studies within three months of completing Part II. In many cases, students were offered employment by their industry placement company.

Environmental geoscientists presenting a range of specialist and transferable skills are readily employed by civil engineering and environmental consultancies as well as geoscience service providers, natural resource exploration and management companies, local authorities, regulatory and government bodies. Day-to-day project work might include but is not limited to some of the following:

- Aggregate mapping and wind resource development on the continental shelf

- Assessing and managing environmental risks posed by contaminated land

- Assessing the suitability of foundation design in hazardous geological environments

- Environmental impact assessment and reporting

- Supervision of geotechnical site investigations for major infrastructure projects

- Water quality monitoring and remediation at licensed industrial facilities

Some students may wish to use the MSc programme to acquire additional practical skills prior to embarking on a research career leading to a PhD. For students interested in research, the programme offers comprehensive training in a broad set of transferable skills required for independent geoscience field research.

More details
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  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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