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Earth Sciences

How did the Earth come about? Why do earthquakes occur when and where they do? What shapes the landscape? Why did dinosaurs become extinct? If you are intrigued by the Earth’s structure, composition and development over time, studying Earth Sciences with the OU will feed your interest and imagination.

Can I study Earth Sciences with the OU?

Studying Earth Sciences with the Open University can:

•  introduce you to the fascinating study of rocks, fossils, and landforms 

•  develop your understanding of how our planet evolved and the forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, the Earth that we live on

•  develop your skills in thinking, analysis and problem solving applied to Earth Science issues and debates 

•  give you the opportunity to carry out Earth Science projects

Whether your aim is to gain a degree for your future career, to develop the understanding and skills needed to underpin your work, or whether you simply want to explore a long-standing interest in geology, the Earth and its dynamic processes – you will find there are appropriate modules and qualifications that you can study with the Open University.

You can begin your studies of science with our introductory modules. Further modules then help you build your skills and understanding, letting you progress and specialise as you wish.

You can sample some of our modules at OpenLearn: Geology.



BSc degree in Natural Science: Earth Sciences pathway

We live in a society that depends on science, but how many of us really understand the science behind the important issues that feature in the news? If you are fascinated by science but not yet sure whether your interest lies in – say – Earth sciences, environmental or planetary sciences, then this degree is for you. It starts with a fascinating, wide-ranging introduction to highly topical areas of modern science, and then offers the chance to specialise as you develop your interests.

You can choose to take an Earth Science pathway through the Natural Sciences degree which focuses on exploring the processes that shape the Earth, its atmosphere and similar planetary bodies.

You may also be interested in other pathways through the Natural Sciences degree, such as Environmental Science, Astronomy and Planetary Sciences or Physics.

By the time you graduate, you’ll be an adaptable scientist with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the labour market – such as analytical, numerical and communication skills, teamworking, problem solving and proficiency in using computers. You’ll also have a good understanding of where your strengths and interests lie, and be well prepared for your next step – whether it’s further study or employment.

See BSc Natural Sciences for further details.


Other degree options

The OU also provides an honours degree in the related field of Environmental Science.

Open qualifications may also be an appropriate degree choice if your interests span a wider range of subjects.


It is likely that you will begin your studies with Exploring Science (S104).

More advanced modules in this topic area explore the geology of the Earth, its origin, structure, processes and composition; the dynamic nature of our planet including the movement of the continents and the rise and fall of mountain ranges.

There are also a wide range of further advanced modules covering topics such as oceanography, the geological record of environmental change, the origins of the solar system and Earth science project work.

Please note that from time to time, modules may be replaced or withdrawn.

More information

More information about planning a qualification is available at the Courses website.
We recommend that you explore our 'Are you ready for science?' questions before registering for a qualification.

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