Cambridge, Imperial or Oxford for Geology?

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hotmom
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I want to do a degree in the future related to Geology and those uni's I've stated on the title are my top options (if I get in though lol).

Anyway they all offer different degrees: Earth Sciences (Ox), Natural Sciences (Cam) and Geology/Geophysics (Imperial). So what I'm wondering is the best/interesting degree? That'll increase the chance of me getting a job? Unfortunately I have to pick between Biology or Physics if I want to do one of those specific degrees since I know I'm definitely doing Geology, Maths and Chemistry.


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StudentXL
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This is like asking in football whether to sign for Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid...

Any of the 3 are fine, you will lucky to even be offered a place after an interview. Obviously the best advice anyone can give you here is research all those courses and look specificly into the details of each and see which one you like the most. Chance of you getting a job going to any of these uni are high as long as you get good enough grades, as for interesting no one can decide that but you, what do you like the most? Good luck!
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by hotmom)
I want to do a degree in the future related to Geology and those uni's I've stated on the title are my top options (if I get in though lol).

Anyway they all offer different degrees: Earth Sciences (Ox), Natural Sciences (Cam) and Geology/Geophysics (Imperial). So what I'm wondering is the best/interesting degree? That'll increase the chance of me getting a job? Unfortunately I have to pick between Biology or Physics if I want to do one of those specific degrees since I know I'm definitely doing Geology, Maths and Chemistry.
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I was basically in the exact same situation as you. As StudentXL said, all three are excellent universities so essentially this decision is going to come down to your preferences for the university and for the course. Here are my thoughts on the three courses:

Oxford: Oxford's Earth Sciences course is the broadest of the three. You will study every major branch of the Earth Sciences (Paleontology, Geophysics, Geochemistry etc.) and this is compulsory. You only get to make choices in the third and fourth years. This is probably the best choice to take if you want to have the most well-rounded education in the Earth Sciences because you will cover topics in this course that you probably wouldn't be able to cover anywhere else, at least not at the same depth. Another distinguishing feature of the Oxford course is the extremely low intake - you are only going to have a maximum of 30-40 people in any of your classes. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what kind of a person you are. The department itself is also quite small. Oxford is probably the best choice if you're certain you want to study Earth Sciences but want to get the broadest geological training possible or are interested in areas of the Earth Sciences that aren't traditional parts of Geology.

Cambridge: Obviously, the big feature of the Cambridge course is the fact that Geology is taught as part of Natural Sciences. This means that in your first year, only 25% of your time will be Earth Sciences related and only 66% of your time in second year. You can only completely specialise in your third year. The Natural Sciences course is definitely the broadest overall course since you will not be studying pure Earth Sciences. This has positives and negatives. On the plus side, you'll be able to make a more informed decision as to whether or not you really want to specialise in the Earth Sciences and Cambridge also argues that their multi-disciplinary methods produce the best scientists. On the negative side, if you're certain that you want to go into the Earth Sciences, it could be very frustrating not being able to specialise immediately. Cambridge claim that you will reach the same depth of understanding as any pure Earth Sciences course but you won't learn as much geology as you would in another course. There will also be the fewest field trips (probably) with Cambridge. Having said that, from what I've read, their course does seem to cover a lot of ground. Their intake is obviously by far the biggest of the three options, although class sizes will get smaller in later years. Cambridge is definitely the best option if you're not 100% certain about going into the Earth Sciences or you want to try out other sciences too.

Imperial: The big feature here is that Imperial offers degrees in Geology, Geophysics and Geology & Geophysics so their degrees are the most specialised. Particularly with Geology, their course is also very fieldwork intensive. Because of this, Imperial is the place to be if you want to go into industry. It's also a very good choice if you want to specialise as early as possible. Both Oxford and Cambridge teach Earth Sciences rather than pure Geology or Geophysics so if you already know which one of these you want to branch into, Imperial is a very good choice. In particular for Geophysics I'd say, because of the very intensive mathematical and computational training they seem to give. Their intake is bigger than Oxford's but smaller than Cambridge. Imperial's the best choice if you definitely want to go into Industry and you're happy with specialising very early on.

The other important thing to bear in mind is that both Oxford and Cambridge are collegiate universities set in towns whereas Imperial is right at the heart of London. Whereas Oxford and Cambridge will provide you with accommodation and food for the entirety of your course (this does depend on the college though), Imperial is completely self-catering and you have to find your own place to live after Year 1 at Imperial. Both Oxford and Cambridge are definitely cheaper options than Imperial, but on the other hand there are advantages with living in a city. Which option you prefer will completely depend on your preference. Intake is also something you may want to consider - if you find the idea of being in massive classes daunting, Imperial or Oxford may be the better choice. Both Oxford and Imperial have very good, pretty much brand new facilities (I'm not sure about Cambridge because I didn't visit their Earth Sciences department). Imperial's Earth Sciences department feels a lot bigger than Oxford, partially because the ES department is only part of the massive RSM building whereas Oxford's department has its own little building and feels less imposing. One other thing you might want to consider is that Imperial does excellently in the student satisfaction rankings, Cambridge does very well and Oxford doesn't do particularly well. However, I'm not entirely sure how reliable that is and it's also worth bearing in mind that Oxford's internal student satisfaction rankings puts the ES department as one of their best subjects.

I hope this is helpful and if there's anything I can help with, please ask. For your information, I applied to Imperial (Geophysics) and Oxford (Earth Sciences), got offers for both and firmed Oxford. The main reasons I chose Oxford over Imperial was because I really didn't want to live in London and have to deal with catering and accommodation and I also really liked Oxford's broad course. The main reasons why I chose Oxford over Cambridge was because I didn't want to have to wait until Year 3 to specialise and I also didn't like the massive Natural Sciences intake.

If you want to find out more information about the details of the three courses, both Oxford and Cambridge have detailed course guides on their website. At least the last time I checked, Imperial had very limited information but they give out a lot more at their open days.
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Novelist
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(Original post by hotmom)
I want to do a degree in the future related to Geology and those uni's I've stated on the title are my top options (if I get in though lol).

Anyway they all offer different degrees: Earth Sciences (Ox), Natural Sciences (Cam) and Geology/Geophysics (Imperial). So what I'm wondering is the best/interesting degree? That'll increase the chance of me getting a job? Unfortunately I have to pick between Biology or Physics if I want to do one of those specific degrees since I know I'm definitely doing Geology, Maths and Chemistry.


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I always wanted to be a Volcanologist. I have heard that Cambridge graduates have made it into this career.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by Novelist)
I always wanted to be a Volcanologist. I have heard that Cambridge graduates have made it into this career.
I'm pretty sure that you can go into Vulcanology from any of those universities! I know that Oxford, for instance, has specialist third and fourth year Vulcanology options (there are also some pretty famous vulcanologists at Oxford such as David Pyle).
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Holmstock
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(Original post by hotmom)
I want to do a degree in the future related to Geology and those uni's I've stated on the title are my top options (if I get in though lol).

Anyway they all offer different degrees: Earth Sciences (Ox), Natural Sciences (Cam) and Geology/Geophysics (Imperial). So what I'm wondering is the best/interesting degree? That'll increase the chance of me getting a job? Unfortunately I have to pick between Biology or Physics if I want to do one of those specific degrees since I know I'm definitely doing Geology, Maths and Chemistry.


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Solely on the point about choosing between Physics or Biology - I presume for AS level? - then Physics is perhaps a better fit with the other three, both to provide the flexibility on choice of degree (for instance to permit engineering choices) and to help with the Geophysics at university level. Biology on the other hand would give you fieldwork experience (unless you will get this from Geology anyway?). Which of these two subjects have you enjoyed more so far? Have a look at the AS syllabus studied at your sixth form to give you a better idea, and talk to people in the year above you who are studying both Physics and Biology at the moment.
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hotmom
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
I was basically in the exact same situation as you. As StudentXL said, all three are excellent universities so essentially this decision is going to come down to your preferences for the university and for the course. Here are my thoughts on the three courses:

Oxford: Oxford's Earth Sciences course is the broadest of the three. You will study every major branch of the Earth Sciences (Paleontology, Geophysics, Geochemistry etc.) and this is compulsory. You only get to make choices in the third and fourth years. This is probably the best choice to take if you want to have the most well-rounded education in the Earth Sciences because you will cover topics in this course that you probably wouldn't be able to cover anywhere else, at least not at the same depth. Another distinguishing feature of the Oxford course is the extremely low intake - you are only going to have a maximum of 30-40 people in any of your classes. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what kind of a person you are. The department itself is also quite small. Oxford is probably the best choice if you're certain you want to study Earth Sciences but want to get the broadest geological training possible or are interested in areas of the Earth Sciences that aren't traditional parts of Geology.

Cambridge: Obviously, the big feature of the Cambridge course is the fact that Geology is taught as part of Natural Sciences. This means that in your first year, only 25% of your time will be Earth Sciences related and only 66% of your time in second year. You can only completely specialise in your third year. The Natural Sciences course is definitely the broadest overall course since you will not be studying pure Earth Sciences. This has positives and negatives. On the plus side, you'll be able to make a more informed decision as to whether or not you really want to specialise in the Earth Sciences and Cambridge also argues that their multi-disciplinary methods produce the best scientists. On the negative side, if you're certain that you want to go into the Earth Sciences, it could be very frustrating not being able to specialise immediately. Cambridge claim that you will reach the same depth of understanding as any pure Earth Sciences course but you won't learn as much geology as you would in another course. There will also be the fewest field trips (probably) with Cambridge. Having said that, from what I've read, their course does seem to cover a lot of ground. Their intake is obviously by far the biggest of the three options, although class sizes will get smaller in later years. Cambridge is definitely the best option if you're not 100% certain about going into the Earth Sciences or you want to try out other sciences too.

Imperial: The big feature here is that Imperial offers degrees in Geology, Geophysics and Geology & Geophysics so their degrees are the most specialised. Particularly with Geology, their course is also very fieldwork intensive. Because of this, Imperial is the place to be if you want to go into industry. It's also a very good choice if you want to specialise as early as possible. Both Oxford and Cambridge teach Earth Sciences rather than pure Geology or Geophysics so if you already know which one of these you want to branch into, Imperial is a very good choice. In particular for Geophysics I'd say, because of the very intensive mathematical and computational training they seem to give. Their intake is bigger than Oxford's but smaller than Cambridge. Imperial's the best choice if you definitely want to go into Industry and you're happy with specialising very early on.

The other important thing to bear in mind is that both Oxford and Cambridge are collegiate universities set in towns whereas Imperial is right at the heart of London. Whereas Oxford and Cambridge will provide you with accommodation and food for the entirety of your course (this does depend on the college though), Imperial is completely self-catering and you have to find your own place to live after Year 1 at Imperial. Both Oxford and Cambridge are definitely cheaper options than Imperial, but on the other hand there are advantages with living in a city. Which option you prefer will completely depend on your preference. Intake is also something you may want to consider - if you find the idea of being in massive classes daunting, Imperial or Oxford may be the better choice. Both Oxford and Imperial have very good, pretty much brand new facilities (I'm not sure about Cambridge because I didn't visit their Earth Sciences department). Imperial's Earth Sciences department feels a lot bigger than Oxford, partially because the ES department is only part of the massive RSM building whereas Oxford's department has its own little building and feels less imposing. One other thing you might want to consider is that Imperial does excellently in the student satisfaction rankings, Cambridge does very well and Oxford doesn't do particularly well. However, I'm not entirely sure how reliable that is and it's also worth bearing in mind that Oxford's internal student satisfaction rankings puts the ES department as one of their best subjects.

I hope this is helpful and if there's anything I can help with, please ask. For your information, I applied to Imperial (Geophysics) and Oxford (Earth Sciences), got offers for both and firmed Oxford. The main reasons I chose Oxford over Imperial was because I really didn't want to live in London and have to deal with catering and accommodation and I also really liked Oxford's broad course. The main reasons why I chose Oxford over Cambridge was because I didn't want to have to wait until Year 3 to specialise and I also didn't like the massive Natural Sciences intake.

If you want to find out more information about the details of the three courses, both Oxford and Cambridge have detailed course guides on their website. At least the last time I checked, Imperial had very limited information but they give out a lot more at their open days.
Wow thanks so much for this! Super informative!! I've read your post on my other thread and yeah I've now chosen Physics, Maths, Chemistry but now I'm really not sure about geology. I mean I'm not the best at Maths and I'm willing to try hard for it but I'm scared that by doing FM it might make my grades look bad lol.
Congrats on getting into Oxford btw! I saw their video for Earth Sciences and it looked really good and people looked like they enjoyed it (it might be staged though lol idk).
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hotmom
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(Original post by Holmstock)
Solely on the point about choosing between Physics or Biology - I presume for AS level? - then Physics is perhaps a better fit with the other three, both to provide the flexibility on choice of degree (for instance to permit engineering choices) and to help with the Geophysics at university level. Biology on the other hand would give you fieldwork experience (unless you will get this from Geology anyway?). Which of these two subjects have you enjoyed more so far? Have a look at the AS syllabus studied at your sixth form to give you a better idea, and talk to people in the year above you who are studying both Physics and Biology at the moment.
Nope for the whole 2 years lol. I'm either gonna do Geology or FM for AS and then drop that. Yeah you're right I think I'm gonna do Physics since Biology was kinda boring during GCSE although I get better grades at it :| It's literally the same for other subjects I really don't enjoy but manage to get better grades at. I enjoy Physics and Maths a lot but I'm definitely better at English and History lol. Oh well... it's what you enjoy at the end right? It's not like I completely suck at those subjects xD

Ha ha, every person I talk to who are taking/have taken Physics says it's hard af and many drop out. With Biology their opinions are quite varied.

Thanks anyway!
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by hotmom)
Wow thanks so much for this! Super informative!! I've read your post on my other thread and yeah I've now chosen Physics, Maths, Chemistry but now I'm really not sure about geology. I mean I'm not the best at Maths and I'm willing to try hard for it but I'm scared that by doing FM it might make my grades look bad lol.
Congrats on getting into Oxford btw! I saw their video for Earth Sciences and it looked really good and people looked like they enjoyed it (it might be staged though lol idk).
Maths, Physics and Chemistry are the three best subjects to take so you've got that. When I've visited Oxford (I spent a week in the Earth Sciences department last summer on a summer school), they made quite a big deal about how maths intensive the course is. I'd imagine the course at Cambridge would be similarly mathematically intense and the same for Imperial, particularly if you're applying for Geophysics. Because of that, Further Maths is probably the most useful fourth A Level to take. At least in my experience, AS Further Maths isn't much more difficult than AS Maths, the real shock comes at A2. So you could always take Further Maths for AS and drop it at A2 if you think it will have a negative impact on your grades. Having said that, having looked at the maths content of the course, there does seem to be quite a lot of overlap with the A2 Further Maths course.

On the other hand, I don't think geology is a 'bad' choice, it's just not the most useful. The reason for this is that none of the universities are assuming you're going to have any existing knowledge of geology so it will all be taught from scratch. Whilst taking A Level geology might make it a bit easier, you're probably going to get a bigger advantage with the mathematical skills you get in Further Maths. If you think you'll enjoy geology more and will do better in it, you might want to go for that.

(Original post by hotmom)
Ha ha, every person I talk to who are taking/have taken Physics says it's hard af and many drop out. With Biology their opinions are quite varied.

Thanks anyway!
Huh, I thought that Physics is one of the easiest subjects I'm taking (particularly in comparison to Chemistry which is very hard!). If you're good at Maths, you'll find Physics quite a lot easier.
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Brubeckian
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(Original post by hotmom)
Nope for the whole 2 years lol. I'm either gonna do Geology or FM for AS and then drop that. Yeah you're right I think I'm gonna do Physics since Biology was kinda boring during GCSE although I get better grades at it :| It's literally the same for other subjects I really don't enjoy but manage to get better grades at. I enjoy Physics and Maths a lot but I'm definitely better at English and History lol. Oh well... it's what you enjoy at the end right? It's not like I completely suck at those subjects xD

Ha ha, every person I talk to who are taking/have taken Physics says it's hard af and many drop out. With Biology their opinions are quite varied.

Thanks anyway!
Can't comment on the uni courses unfortunately but I can only advise you to keep FM to A2...it is the single most valuable A-level for top uni's (and maths, of course)
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Protagoras
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I've always thought geology at Imperial was kinda cool because it's linked historically by the Royal School of Mines with the british empire and imperial explorations such as diamond mining in africa and subsequently oil exploration in the middle east.

Can you not drop maths and do biology and physics to A2?
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Brubeckian
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(Original post by Protagoras)
I've always thought geology at Imperial was kinda cool because it's linked historically by the Royal School of Mines with the british empire and imperial explorations such as diamond mining in africa and subsequently oil exploration in the middle east.

Can you not drop maths and do biology and physics to A2?
Maths is a requirement for the courses OP wants to apply to, drop biology, it's a pseudo-science.
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Protagoras
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UCL has a strong geology department so don't forget them.

The easiest thing is to consider is that you are also interested in studying geophysics so physics is the obvious choice.

This is going off of what I've seen a lot of these forums is people applying for straight subjects that they did at school and then aim for oxford etc., not to say what are trying to do is bad but I would think about something unique like palaeontology at Bristol. Palaeontology has use for specialist consultants to the oil and gas industry. You'd need to choose biology, and those sorts of careers you'd be travelling around the world doing interesting stuff.

Possibly the next David Attenborough?

Dinosaurs and shiz brah.. dinosaurs..
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Protagoras
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Oxford offers a Earth science D.Phil. in the area of 'evolution and the fossil record'.

So specialising early might get you into something more prestigious later on.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by Brubeckian)
Maths is a requirement for the courses OP wants to apply to, drop biology, it's a pseudo-science.
Oxford considers biology "useful" for Earth Sciences because of the paleobiology modules. Calling biology a "pseudo-science" is just stupid.

(Original post by Protagoras)
UCL has a strong geology department so don't forget them.

The easiest thing is to consider is that you are also interested in studying geophysics so physics is the obvious choice.

This is going off of what I've seen a lot of these forums is people applying for straight subjects that they did at school and then aim for oxford etc., not to say what are trying to do is bad but I would think about something unique like palaeontology at Bristol. Palaeontology has use for specialist consultants to the oil and gas industry. You'd need to choose biology, and those sorts of careers you'd be travelling around the world doing interesting stuff.

Possibly the next David Attenborough?

Dinosaurs and shiz brah.. dinosaurs..
UCL's Earth Sciences department is lovely! It's not as new or flashy as Oxford or Imperial but it's very cosy and everyone there seems extremely friendly. And there is lots of very interesting research going on in that department.

I'm not sure I'd recommend going for straight paleontology though, broader degrees are generally better choices. You can specialise in paleontology or paleobiology at any of those universities, anyway.
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Brubeckian
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
Oxford considers biology "useful" for Earth Sciences because of the paleobiology modules. Calling biology a "pseudo-science" is just stupid.



UCL's Earth Sciences department is lovely! It's not as new or flashy as Oxford or Imperial but it's very cosy and everyone there seems extremely friendly. And there is lots of very interesting research going on in that department.

I'm not sure I'd recommend going for straight paleontology though, broader degrees are generally better choices. You can specialise in paleontology or paleobiology at any of those universities, anyway.
I didn't know a whole subject devoted to naming things could be considered a real science
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by Brubeckian)
I didn't know a whole subject devoted to naming things could be considered a real science
Do you think you sound clever by saying that? I'm guessing you're trying to be funny but jokes lose their humour when people repeat them over and over again.
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Gnomes&Knights
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(Original post by hotmom)
I want to do a degree in the future related to Geology and those uni's I've stated on the title are my top options (if I get in though lol).

Anyway they all offer different degrees: Earth Sciences (Ox), Natural Sciences (Cam) and Geology/Geophysics (Imperial). So what I'm wondering is the best/interesting degree? That'll increase the chance of me getting a job? Unfortunately I have to pick between Biology or Physics if I want to do one of those specific degrees since I know I'm definitely doing Geology, Maths and Chemistry.


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You should surely choose Imperial and 1 from Oxford and Cambridge (you can only apply to 1 from the 2) in your UCAS application. If I got offers from both then I would firm Oxford/Cambridge and insure Imperial. I personally would choose Oxbridge over Imperial because of the name.
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Brubeckian
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
Do you think you sound clever by saying that? I'm guessing you're trying to be funny but jokes lose their humour when people repeat them over and over again.
I really don't, I don't even consider myself to be clever.

If anyone can tell me how biology is anything other than naming physical and chemical processes, please educate me.
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hotmom
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(Original post by Protagoras)
UCL has a strong geology department so don't forget them.

The easiest thing is to consider is that you are also interested in studying geophysics so physics is the obvious choice.

This is going off of what I've seen a lot of these forums is people applying for straight subjects that they did at school and then aim for oxford etc., not to say what are trying to do is bad but I would think about something unique like palaeontology at Bristol. Palaeontology has use for specialist consultants to the oil and gas industry. You'd need to choose biology, and those sorts of careers you'd be travelling around the world doing interesting stuff.

Possibly the next David Attenborough?

Dinosaurs and shiz brah.. dinosaurs..
lol yah I've looked into UCL too... It's just Imperial was my no.1 and getting accepted there would b life changing... Oxford too (although it's way too close to home :/).

Awesome Palaeontology sounds cool too(don't know how to pronounce it though lol) but I'm more interested in more planetary formations like rivers, mountains and in the future i'll hopefully get to learn about the natural materials found on other planets hence why i want to lean about the principles about stuff in our own planet first lol.
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