Comprehensive training in the theory and practice of environmental geoscience that equips graduates for careers in scientific, engineering and environmental consultancies, natural resources and mining industries, regulatory agencies and research in Ireland and further afield.
The vocational programme was established in 2017 in consultation with industry and government agencies in order to address a skills shortage identified in the environmental geoscience sector in Ireland. The MSc in Applied Environmental Geoscience combines a core focus of hydrogeology/contaminated land and engineering geology (30 credits) with advanced modules in applied geophysics, geoinformatics, environmental monitoring and assessment, environmental law and offshore environmental geology. This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars which are supported by field courses and laboratory practical sessions. A strong emphasis is placed on obtaining 'hands-on' practical experience following international standards in best practice using real-world industry examples. 30 of the 90 credits involve an independent research project completed with an industry collaborator or as part of ongoing research projects within the School of BEES. The course offers a unique opportunity for international students to gain EU based work experience whilst studying for their Masters. There is currently a global high demand for graduates with applied environmental geoscience skills and this demand is projected to grow in the coming years. The 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.
Students in Part I take taught modules to the value of 60 credits involving field study, lectures, practical classes, seminars and workshops.
Students in Part II will undertake a substantial Research Project to the value of 30 credits in an area of environmental geoscience. 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. Students will complete a research project during a five-month placement in industry or a research group within the School of BEES.
Why Choose This Course
Students of the MSc programme will have the opportunity to use a range of geotechnical techniques in Semester 1 in the Soil Mechanics Laboratory based in the School of Civil Engineering. The Laboratory houses equipment to carry out soil classification tests, compaction tests, permeability tests, oedometer tests, direct shear tests, triaxial tests, unconfined compression tests, vane shear tests and drop cone shear tests on soil samples. Students of the programme will have access to industry standard hydrogeological field equipment in the School of BEES including submersible pumps, sampling pumps, water level meters, pressure transducers, multi-parameter water quality sondes and flow gauging equipment. This equipment will be used extensively in Semester 2 to carry out aquifer tests, undertake hydrochemical sampling and develop conceptual site models using borehole networks installed on UCC campus. Students will also get hands-on experience using near-surface 2D geophysical techniques such as electrical resistivity tomography and seismic refraction. As part 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 will also have access to the School of Chemistry analytical facilities such as IC, ICP-OES, ICP-MS, GC-MS and LC-qTOF-MS. MSc Students will have access to dedicated office space and computing facilities including geoscience software packages such as ArcGIS and AQTESOLV.
In addition, 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)
A distinctive feature of the MSc in Applied Environmental Geology programme is the delivery of a range of lectures, workshops, field courses and practicals by industry practitioners with expertise in specialist areas of the course. The focus is on real-world challenges and solutions. Industry collaborators who have contributed to the programme to date have included the following individuals and organisations:
• Dr. Michael Lehane, Dr. Jonathan Derham and selected staff (Environmental Protection Agency, Wexford)
• Dr. Jim Hodgson (Geological Survey Ireland, Dublin)
• Ms. Marie Fleming (Arup, Dublin)
• Ms. Yvonne O'Connell (Apex Geoservices)
• Mr. Paul Quigley and selected staff (Irish Geotechnical Services Ltd)
• Dr. Kevin Ryan (Cork City Council)
• Dr. Mike Long (University College Dublin)
• Mr. Kevin Forde (Aecom, Cork)
• Mr. Gerry Baker (Arup, Dublin)
• Mr. Jim Wragg (Geosyntec, Delph)
• Mr. Kevin Cleary (Verde Environmental)
• Mr. David Norbury
• Mr. James Dunne and Mr. Stephen McCarthy (Fehily Timoney & Company)
• Mr. Tim McGillycuddy (Priority Geotechnical)
• Mr. Sean Moran (O'Callaghan Moran & Associates)
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. The industry placement and research project allow students to develop their own interests and carry out an independent investigation of an environmental geoscience topic of their choice. Earlier in the year, students will complete certified training courses in construction site health and safety and basic sea survival techniques aboard ship to enable them to carry out any field work 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 in the School of BEES.
Recent industry project examples include the following:
• The role of ground conditions in wind turbine foundation design: a case study from Co. Limerick (Arup, Cork)
• An Investigation into the degradation of concrete blocks by Mica (IGSL Ltd)
• Fossil water in a transboundary aquifer system: the sustainability, quality and future of a non-renewable freshwater resource (GEMS Water, UN Development Centre, UCC)
• The occurrence of heavy metals in soils in Co. Dublin and the implications on human health and contaminated land management (O'Callaghan Moran & Associates)
• Aggregate available for land drainage systems: determination of physical and hydraulic properties and influencing factors (Teagasc, Moore Park)
• Hydrographic surveying, processing and the marine geology of Irish coastal regions (Geological Survey Ireland, Dublin)
• An Investigation of leachate migration in off-site groundwater at a historic municipal landfill (Cork City Council).