UCC Postgraduate courses

Geology - Exploration Field Geology

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Geology - Exploration Field Geology

  • Code

    CKR43 Full-time

  • College

    Science, Engineering and Food Science

  • Duration

    1 year Full-time

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications


  • EU Fees

    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees


  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Non-EU Closing Date

    Extended until 31 July 2021

  • Start Date

    Not on offer in 2021/2022

Course Outline

If you are a geology graduate, this course will provide you with the essential knowledge, techniques and experience required by the exploration geology sector for employment in the metal, coal or hydrocarbon industries.

Our course recognises the exceptional demand for exploration geologists driven by the unprecedented rise in commodity prices for metals, coal and petroleum resources.

Bucking the global recessionary trend, significant employment opportunities exist for skilled geologists both within Europeand further afield, with Australiaand Canadarecognised as major markets. 

Exploration companies require skilled field geologists. However, in many courses, geology graduates gain advanced knowledge in research-driven specialisms but lack industrially relevant skills and practical training in core areas. This course bridges that gap. We take note of employer feedback, and recognise and place emphasis on the field-based skills and competence required by industry.

Our course, therefore, provides an excellent foundation for a successful career in exploration geology.

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate advanced competence in field methods as applied to the exploration industry in sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic and deformed terrains
  • demonstrate advanced understanding of the principles and practice of coal exploration
  • demonstrate advanced understanding of the principles and practice of basin analysis as relevant to the hydrocarbon exploration industry
  • demonstrate advanced understanding of the principles and practice of offshore geological exploration
  • apply Geographical Information Systems for geological mapping and exploration geology purposes
  • test the geotechnical properties of rock and unconsolidated sediment with particular application to mining and quarrying
  • demonstrate advanced understanding of the principles and practice of field exploration geology methodologies, e.g. regional sampling and core utilisation, to the level where you will be able to plan and direct an exploration course
  • initiate independent research on a field geology topic.

Part I

You will take taught modules to the value of 60 credits involving field study, lectures, practicals, seminars, workshops, and self-directed learning.

Part II

You will undertake a substantial Research Project (GL6018) to the value of 30 credits in an area of geology field study. This project must be submitted by 1 September in the academic year of registration for the course.

Core Modules
You will take 90 credits as follows:

Part I (60 credits)

  • GL6002 Igneous and Metamorphic Terrain Mapping (10 credits) 
  • GL6003 Coal Exploration (5 credits) 
  • GL6005 Basin Analysis and Sedimentary Facies Analysis (10 credits)
  • GL6006 Geotechnical Investigations of Soils and Rocks (5 credits)
  • GL6007 Practical Offshore Geological Exploration (5 credits)
  • GL6008 Geological Application of Geographical Information Systems (5 credits)
  • GL6010 Field Exploration Methods and Professional Development (5 credits)
  • GL6011 Structural Geology for Hydrocarbon Exploration (5 credits)
  • GL6012 Structural Geology for Mineral Exploration (5 credits)
  • GL6013 Geology of Ore Deposits (5 credits)

Part II (30 credits)

  • GL6018 Field Geology Dissertation (30 credits)

Further Information can be found on our postgraduate calendar


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.

Course Practicalities

The MSc in Exploration Field Geology is a full-time 12-month course split into two parts.

Part I consists of taught modules running from September to April. The course includes ship time experience aboard the Irish State Research Vessel Celtic Voyager. It also includes residential field trips to Co. Donegal, Co. Clare and Co. Kerry in Ireland, and to South Wales in the UK.You must pass Part I in order to progress to Part II.

Part II consists of a five-month research project.

The taught modules in the course are assessed by a combination of written examinations and continuous assessment elements. These include essays, seminars, assessed presentations, practical reports, technical reports, offshore and field survey reports.

The five-month research project is assessed by a dissertation and a project seminar.

This course is taught by world leaders in the field of exploration geology. These currently include:

Garth Earls –  Premier Gold and former director of the Geological Survey of Northern Irleand.

Dr Mark Cooper, Sherwood Geoconsulting Inc. – petroleum structural geology

Larry Thomas, author of the foremost coal exploration text book and consultant ­– coal exploration

Prof Donny Hutton (former Chair of Geology, University of Birmingham) – igneous and metamorphic terrain mapping.

Eileen McCarthy - QMEC Environmental

Most instructors manage their own exploration companies/consultancies or have direct industrial research and training  links.

Why Choose This Course

When you graduate from this master’s course you will be equipped with both academic and practical skills in a range of subjects relevant to employers’ requirements.

Because the course is taught by world leaders in exploration geology who have considerable industrial knowledge, you will be well-prepared for employment in industry. The research dissertation also provides you with an opportunity to work directly with industry. On conclusion of the course you will have an excellent knowledge of the hydrocarbon, minerals and offshore surveying industries.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Opportunities exist for students to undertake their Part II research project as part of a placement within an exploration company in Ireland or abroad.

Skills and Careers Information

You will acquire practical skills in:

  • field mapping for minerals and metals
  • coal and basin analysis
  • geotechnical site appraisals
  • appraising structural reservoir traps and seals
  • interpreting geophysical data
  • designing and implementing surveys, both on- and off-shore
  • evaluating a resource and implementing an extraction strategy
  • manipulating geological data in GIS
  • executing a research project.

Many transferable skills are also fostered through different learning approaches, including critical thinking, problem-solving, report writing, oral presentations, independent research and time management.


To be eligible, candidates for the MSc in Exploration Field Geology must either:

  1. hold at least a Second Class Honours, Grade II degree or equivalent in a Geological/Earth Sciences area or a related relevant degree or 
  2. have reached an equivalent standard through completion of a relevant postgraduate qualification

The number of places is limited and selection will be made on the candidate's performance in his/her primary degree and relevant experience. 

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure 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.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.

English Language Requirements

Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Please visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

The EU fee for this course is €6,750.

The Non-EU fee for this course is €18,130.


If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment 

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment 

International Students can pay in two equal instalments once they have paid the appropriate deposit. The initial payment is due on registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

You can pay by Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.


If you have any questions on fee payment email our Fees Office at fees@ucc.ie.

How Do I Apply

1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

  • For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
  • Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Additional Requirements

Please note that you will be asked to fill in a supplementary information form as part of the applications process for this programme and you are also asked to provide an academic reference indicating your potential for postgraduate study. The supplementary form is available to view ‌‌CKR43 Supplementary Questions‎‌‎.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Extended until 31 July 2021

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact