Institution / Open University In Ireland
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Earth Science

This course explores current aspects of Earth science, investigating how interactions between the Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are dependent upon each other and interact across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. You will consider the complexity of interacting systems, investigate how to quantify fluxes within the Earth system, and develop your understanding of the climatic consequences of changing the balance between different components. You will also learn how to communicate scientific information to specialists and non-specialists. The MSc includes taught modules and a compulsory project module, which gives you the opportunity to explore a topic in further depth and to undertake a substantial piece of independent research.

Key features of the course
• Extends and updates your knowledge of Earth science
• Develops a strong basis of postgraduate science skills and transferable skills relevant to career development
• Provides an excellent foundation for further studies at doctoral level.

Entry requirements

To successfully undertake this course you will need to have studied Earth science at degree level. If you do not have a degree in Earth science (or similar) then you are likely to need to undertake additional study before starting this MSc. If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of that study or experience. For further advice please contact the Science Postgraduate Team.

You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level. The following should give you some indication of the basic IT and language skills we expect students to have before enrolling on our postgraduate qualifications in science. Please refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

Proficiency in the use of English: All of our taught modules are in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.


2 - 10 years.

In order to complete within the minimum time of two years you will need to already have an Earth Science/ Geology degree, and be eligible for credit transfer. You will also need to study for up to 30 hours a week during the three months where the first two modules overlap. Due to the demands that studying this degree will make on you, we recommend that you take no more than 90 credits a year.

To study a 30-credit module requires 8-10 hours per week and a 60-credit module requires 16-20 hours per week of study, over a 32 week period. As S825 runs for 28 weeks, this will require 10-11 hours per week.

The minimum time to complete will be two years, but most students study this qualification over three years. The maximum time to complete is ten years.

Number of credits

180 credits

Careers or further progression

Career relevance
Completing this qualification will equip you with key transferable skills, which will be relevant to Earth science, as well as providing you with a basis of postgraduate level science skills and skills relevant to developing your career. You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in your field of study as well as evaluating research methodologies. You will discover how to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex situations.

You will also learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences including professional audiences, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a postgraduate level.

The qualification will develop your independent learning skills, enhance your skills in locating information and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

You can find more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Further enquiries

Tel: (01) 678 5399
Fax: (01) 678 5442

Subjects taught

We recommend that you study the modules in the order listed below. You must have successfully completed Earth science: a systems approach (S808) before studying the project module, which we expect you to take as the project module as the final module for this qualification.

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

30 credits from:

Optional modules

Credits Next start
Environmental monitoring and protection (T868) 30 01 Nov 2017
Making environmental decisions (T891) 30 01 May 2017

or from credit transfer, or from one of the discontinued modules S330, S339, S369


150 credits from:

Compulsory modules

Credits Next start
Developing research skills in science (S825) 30 07 Oct 2017 FINAL
Earth science: a systems approach (S808) 60 27 Jan 2018
MSc project module (S810) 60 04 Nov 2017

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


On completion
On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Master of Science in Earth Science entitling you to use the letters MSc Earth Sci (Open) after your name. The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

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