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Earth Sciences

MSc by Research

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Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £4,786†

International/EU fees**: £26,300†

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £4,786†

International / EU fees**: £26,300†

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The course

Earth Sciences (MSc by Research)

The MSc by Research in Earth Sciences offers an opportunity to join our thriving research community to refine your research skills and develop advanced scientific and technical knowledge through an original research project supervised by internationally-renowned academic research staff.

You’ll contribute to the research culture in the Earth Sciences department at Royal Holloway, a leading centre for multidisciplinary research, with a wide range of industrial and commercial collaborations and partners within the energy, environmental and extraction sectors. 

The Department of Earth Sciences is one of the leading centres of research and teaching in the UK. 88% of our research is rated world-leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).

Our research is based in three centres: Centre for Energy and Resources (CEREs), Centre of Climate, Ocean and Atmosphere (COCOA), and Centre of Dynamic Earth and Solar System (CEDESS). This framework encourages and promotes multidisciplinary activity and supports researchers.

Graduates are invited to contact individual members of staff in the department in the first instance to discuss potential research projects. Your research topic will be developed into a project proposal through discussion with your chosen supervisor from the full breadth of the themes covered by the three Research Centres within the Department.

You will have access to world-class facilities in high-quality, custom-designed laboratories for conducting research and training activities in air quality monitoring; analogue modelling; aerosol studies; computing; greenhouse gas measurements and analysis, Laser ablation-ICP-MS analysis, light stable isotope analysis; mineral separation; multi-collector-ICP-MS analysis; palaeobiology; rock crushing; scanning electron microscopy; sea-Ice studies; wet geochemical analysis; X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence.

You’ll develop skills in experimental design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and analytical methods, as well as transferable team working and presentation skills. You may also be encouraged to present your work at national and international conferences, and to prepare your work for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The MSc by Research will help you to develop valuable vocational skills and acquire industry insight to prepare for a career in a wide range of research and employment sectors, or to gain experience in original research prior to taking a full PhD programme.

Find out more about staff and their research interests and how to apply here:

Earth Sciences - Postgraduate research

  • Take part in world-class research led by renowned academics using state-of-the-art facilities
  • Join a department with outstanding international links with industry and research partners across earth science, energy and environmental sectors.
  • Equip yourself with valuable vocational skills and experience to pursue your career or progress to further research at PhD level.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

The Earth Sciences MSc by Research degree culminates in a supervised independent research project presented in the form of a thesis, which is assessed by an internal and external examiner, and an oral presentation at the annual Postgraduate Research Student Conference.

During your studies you may attend taught courses if they are relevant to your training needs, from taught masters courses offered by the department, MSc Environmental Diagnosis and Management, and MSc Energy Geosciences, or from specialist 3rd or 4th year undergraduate taught modules if appropriate. You can also attend Earth Sciences research seminars to better understand a wide range of scientific issues beyond your individual research project.

The academic progress and social welfare of our research students is a high priority, and the administration of your project will be overseen by a dedicated postgraduate research student lead in the Earth Sciences department, in conjunction with the College’s Doctoral School.

Your progress will be reviewed at four and eight months by a panel comprised of your supervisor, co-supervisor or advisor, and an independent staff member. At each meeting, you must provide examples of written work and timetabled plans for future work, with a verbal presentation made at the four month meeting.  A progress review form is completed at each meeting, checked by the Earth Sciences Postgraduate Research Student Lead who may also provide feedback.

All students have access to the wide range of other training opportunities available in the college including the Researcher Development Programme (RDP) and support from the Centre for Development of Academic Skills.


Eligible degree subjects include Chemistry, Biological Science, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Geoscience, Marine Science, and Physical Science.

Normally we require at least a UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent. Applicants with other qualifications in related disciplines should discuss these with their potential supervisor(s).

Before making an application, prospective students should contact potential supervisors in the Department of Earth Sciences to discuss possible research projects, and to develop a project proposal in support of the application. Some projects may benefit from external co-supervisors with specialist knowledge or facilities at universities, research institutes, industry or other collaborative partners.

Normally, we require a UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent in one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Ecology, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, Geography, Geology, Marine Science, and Physical Science Vocational and professional experience within the environmental sector is desirable, but not essential.

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
  • TOEFL ib: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.

A Masters in Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is excellent preparation for graduates who want to continue to further PhD study or pursue a career in a variety of sectors.

Upon completion of the course you will have acquired a range of advanced research techniques and experience of research in the earth sciences. You’ll also develop important transferable skills, including teamwork and networking, communication and presenting research findings to an audience in the form of a conference presentation.

Students may be employed as Postgraduate Demonstrators, and those who successfully complete the Skills of Teaching to Inspire Learning course will be awarded accreditation as an Associate of the Higher Education Academy.

You’ll benefit from a close-knit graduate network to draw on, with alumni often visiting Royal Holloway to share their experiences.

Many of our Masters graduates have gone on to secure PhD positions at Royal Holloway, or at other leading university departments. Our graduates have entered careers in the research and employment sectors, with roles in GIS, IT, science editing, climate science, industry and environmental consultancies.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £4,786†

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £26,300†

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis in the academic year 2024/25. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase all postgraduate tuition fees annually, based on the UK’s Retail Price Index (RPI). Please therefore be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration), and that this also means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.

** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more 

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

† Earth Sciences by Research MSc is subject to up to £6,000 in addition to the above fees which are negotiated between the department and student/sponsor at the project setup stage.

We adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the UKRI website.

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