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Geologist surveying river valley

Diploma of Higher Education in Geology

Travel to the deep time of Earth’s past through fossil finds and mineral mysteries. You’ll observe, describe and interpret rocks and landforms, minerals and fossils, to develop your understanding of how our planet works. Try out your new skills by collecting and analysing data in your own geological investigation. Then explore related topics such as planetary, environmental or ecological science to extend your study of geology.

Key features of the course

  • Observe, describe and analyse rocks, fossils, minerals and landforms.
  • Explore our award-winning OpenSTEM Labs and online databases for current research data.
  • Gain key science skills in critical thinking, communication and problem-solving.
  • Opportunities to gain fieldwork experience, both outdoors and within virtual environments.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course



  • Widely recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Enhance your professional and technical skills or extend your knowledge and understanding of a subject.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Top up to a full honours degree in just two years.
Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Part time – 4 years
Full time – 2 years
Time limit – 12 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This diploma has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with either a 60-credit introductory science module or a choice of two out of three 30-credit mathematics modules, followed by another 60-credit science module.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit Earth science module and choose a further 60 credits from a range of science and technology modules.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 starts with either a 60-credit broad introductory science module or a choice of two out of three 30-credit mathematics modules. You’ll also study a second 60-credit broad science module.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2, you’ll study your first 60-credit Earth sciences module. You’ll also choose 60 credits from a range of science and technology modules.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 18 March 2022.


We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • working in a group with other students
  • conducting fieldwork or virtual practical investigations
  • undertaking practical work online through our OpenSTEM Labs
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • using specialist software
  • finding external/third party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding.
  • Cognitive skills.
  • Practical and professional skills.
  • Key skills.

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some university-level study somewhere else, you may be able to count it towards this qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. For more details and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Geology.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success

  • Stage 1 includes an option module, Questions in science (S111) – check you’re ready to study this module.
  • Stage 1 also includes optional mathematics modules – check you’re ready to study these modules.
  • How much time do I need?

    • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
    • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

    Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

    Preparing for study with an Access module

    Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

    You’ll also benefit from:

    • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
    • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
    • detailed written feedback on your work.
    The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

    Science, technology and maths Access module

    What you will study

    This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It’ll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

    View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

    How much will it cost in England?

    We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread the cost.

    • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
    • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
    • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
    • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,228*.
    • Our current fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,456*.
    • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £12,912*.
    • .

    *The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

    Field schools/lab schools

    This qualification has modules with optional field schools/lab schools. For each school, you must pay an additional charge. You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue.

    Due to the ongoing pandemic, we may replace face-to-face events with online alternatives.

    Skills for career development

    You’ll develop skills valued in a range of careers within and beyond geoscience, such as numeracy, interpretation of partial datasets, spatial visualisation, working across different scales and project planning. You’ll also gain a broad understanding of scientific concepts and the scientific method. You’ll be an independent learner with tested capabilities, equipped to make decisions about your future.

    You’ll gain some important transferable skills that boost your employability, including:

    • digital literacy
    • communication
    • self-motivation
    • practical skills
    • problem solving
    • collaboration

    Career relevance

    The Government has identified a shortage of skilled geoscientists to fill professional geoscience roles. This diploma will help you move towards that goal.

    This diploma will also equip you with a broad skillset that you can turn to a variety of jobs in government, the private sector, consultancies and environmental charities. Examples include the following career areas:

    • science communication and public engagement
    • data analysis and processing
    • environmental monitoring and conservation
    • teaching
    • energy management
    • resources

    Exploring your options

    Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

    In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

    • Data analyst
    • Engineering geologist
    • Environmental consultant
    • Exploration geologist
    • Geochemist
    • Geological technician
    • Geoscientist
    • Geospatial consultant
    • Hydrogeologist
    • Industrial researcher
    • Minerals surveyor
    • Mud logger
    • Museum curator
    • Science writer
    • Teacher

    Register for this course

    Start dates
    Credit transfer: apply by 11/08/2022
    Credit transfer: apply by 08/12/2022

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