Faquarl
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Can anyone help me to decide between Earth Science and Geophysics?
I'm just starting A2 year soon so I need to write a personal statement pretty soon.
If I apply for Earth Sciences I could apply to some unis I really like the look of and would love to apply for (st Andrews, Durham, maybe Oxford) but if I apply for Geophysics then I'm not such a fan of the unis that offer the course (although there is the added bonus of a year abroad offered).
However, I would prefer to study geophys even though the two courses are pretty similar.
So any advice? A course I slightly prefer but a uni I don't like as much? Or a uni I really like with a course I don't like quite as much? Help!
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by Faquarl)
Can anyone help me to decide between Earth Science and Geophysics?
I'm just starting A2 year soon so I need to write a personal statement pretty soon.
If I apply for Earth Sciences I could apply to some unis I really like the look of and would love to apply for (st Andrews, Durham, maybe Oxford) but if I apply for Geophysics then I'm not such a fan of the unis that offer the course (although there is the added bonus of a year abroad offered).
However, I would prefer to study geophys even though the two courses are pretty similar.
So any advice? A course I slightly prefer but a uni I don't like as much? Or a uni I really like with a course I don't like quite as much? Help!
I was in the exact same position as you, actually. I ended up applying for Geophysics at most places (UCL, Imperial, Southampton) and Earth Sciences at two of them (Oxford and Bristol). Geophysics is a more focused degree than Earth Sciences. You will do a lot more Maths and Physics (obviously) and it'll be theoretical and there will probably be less field work. It's probably quite important to mention that Geophysics courses seem to have quite a big emphasis on solid earth stuff. I wanted to do Geophysics because I was interested in environmental physics but this doesn't really seem to be covered in very much detail at all in Geophysics courses so I'm very glad that I've ended up doing Earth Sciences after all, but then again if you're not bothered by that then it's not a problem.

As for whether the course or university is more important for you, you're the only one who can really make that decision because I don't know what your priorities are. Personally, I liked the look of Earth Sciences courses more simply because I've never studied it before in school so I wanted the opportunity to have a taster of all the areas of Earth Sciences (including areas I'd never touched on before like paleobiology) to allow me to make an informed decision. I enjoyed Maths and Physics at school but I didn't know how they'd be like at Uni so I thought Geophysics was more of a risk. On the other hand, I was also told by tutors at UCL and Imperial that it's easier to switch from Geophysics to Geology than from Geology to Geophysics...
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Faquarl
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
I was in the exact same position as you, actually. I ended up applying for Geophysics at most places (UCL, Imperial, Southampton) and Earth Sciences at two of them (Oxford and Bristol). Geophysics is a more focused degree than Earth Sciences. You will do a lot more Maths and Physics (obviously) and it'll be theoretical and there will probably be less field work. It's probably quite important to mention that Geophysics courses seem to have quite a big emphasis on solid earth stuff. I wanted to do Geophysics because I was interested in environmental physics but this doesn't really seem to be covered in very much detail at all in Geophysics courses so I'm very glad that I've ended up doing Earth Sciences after all, but then again if you're not bothered by that then it's not a problem.

As for whether the course or university is more important for you, you're the only one who can really make that decision because I don't know what your priorities are. Personally, I liked the look of Earth Sciences courses more simply because I've never studied it before in school so I wanted the opportunity to have a taster of all the areas of Earth Sciences (including areas I'd never touched on before like paleobiology) to allow me to make an informed decision. I enjoyed Maths and Physics at school but I didn't know how they'd be like at Uni so I thought Geophysics was more of a risk. On the other hand, I was also told by tutors at UCL and Imperial that it's easier to switch from Geophysics to Geology than from Geology to Geophysics...
Thank you, that's really helpful.
How was it that you managed to write a personal statement to apply for some geophys courses and some earth science? Surely you'd end up writing something along the lines of "I want to study earth science because..." and then the unis where you applied for geophysics would think it was odd you didn't say the word geophysics specifically in reference to the course?
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JD1lla
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I study Geophysics at the moment, I'm going into Third year.

My university offers three courses, one with an emphasis on geology, one with an emphasis on physics, and a year abroad component.

At my university, there is a large emphasis on (if you go down the geology route) exploration/environmental/sub-surface geophysics. There have been 3 major fieldwork trips, one every year. Each lasted about two weeks, and are hard work. Early starts, late finishes. I'm not a massive fan of the fieldwork to be honest.

If you like maths/physics, go for geophysics, it's not covered in enough depth in Earth Sciences in my opinion.
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SciLife
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(Original post by JD1lla)
I study Geophysics at the moment, I'm going into Third year.

My university offers three courses, one with an emphasis on geology, one with an emphasis on physics, and a year abroad component.

At my university, there is a large emphasis on (if you go down the geology route) exploration/environmental/sub-surface geophysics. There have been 3 major fieldwork trips, one every year. Each lasted about two weeks, and are hard work. Early starts, late finishes. I'm not a massive fan of the fieldwork to be honest.

If you like maths/physics, go for geophysics, it's not covered in enough depth in Earth Sciences in my opinion.
What university do you go to because I'm interested in the exploration and subsurface geophysics side but am finding it quite difficult to fill up all my five options
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JD1lla
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(Original post by SciLife)
What university do you go to because I'm interested in the exploration and subsurface geophysics side but am finding it quite difficult to fill up all my five options
Liverpool. Ask away if you need any questions answered.
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SciLife
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(Original post by JD1lla)
Liverpool. Ask away if you need any questions answered.
Thank you I haven't looked into Liverpool yet I'm thinking of applying to Birmingham, Durham and Manchester but still have two options available.

Are there many opportunities/prospects for you as a Geology/Geophysics student as that is one of my concerns? Also, I don't do maths at A level so do you think I should stay aware from unis that are maths intense or is it quite reasonable? I take Chemistry As/A2 and I am fine with the maths content in that but it is obviously different to applied maths
Sorry about all the questions haha
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JD1lla
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(Original post by SciLife)
Thank you I haven't looked into Liverpool yet I'm thinking of applying to Birmingham, Durham and Manchester but still have two options available.

Are there many opportunities/prospects for you as a Geology/Geophysics student as that is one of my concerns? Also, I don't do maths at A level so do you think I should stay aware from unis that are maths intense or is it quite reasonable? I take Chemistry As/A2 and I am fine with the maths content in that but it is obviously different to applied maths
Sorry about all the questions haha
Yes, absolutely. Fantastic job opportunities. We have regular visits from companies and former students who are now in industry. Look at Southampton and Imperial.

Do you study Physics? Not having Maths will certainly be a disadvantage. But you will be taught everything you need to know. Maths is usually a requirement though...

The maths isn't impossible..you could definitely learn. With a Physics A level you should be fine. And unfortunately, every geophysics degree will be pretty mathsy. That's the big difference between a pure geology and geophysics degree: the amount of maths.
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SciLife
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(Original post by JD1lla)
Yes, absolutely. Fantastic job opportunities. We have regular visits from companies and former students who are now in industry. Look at Southampton and Imperial.

Do you study Physics? Not having Maths will certainly be a disadvantage. But you will be taught everything you need to know. Maths is usually a requirement though...

The maths isn't impossible..you could definitely learn. With a Physics A level you should be fine. And unfortunately, every geophysics degree will be pretty mathsy. That's the big difference between a pure geology and geophysics degree: the amount of maths.
Sorry I forgot to say that I'm applying for pure Geology but know that some universities offer offer applied geophysics modules. That's good to hear about the job opportunities. Would you recommend going to to more prestigious university like Imperial over somewhere less because i was considering it however wasn't sure if that made a huge difference or not in terms of job prospects.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by Faquarl)
Thank you, that's really helpful.
How was it that you managed to write a personal statement to apply for some geophys courses and some earth science? Surely you'd end up writing something along the lines of "I want to study earth science because..." and then the unis where you applied for geophysics would think it was odd you didn't say the word geophysics specifically in reference to the course?
I can send you my personal statement as an example if you want since my offer is now unconditional anyway. My personal statement was unashamedly targeted at Oxford but I honestly described my interests in the Earth Sciences which mainly involves the physics side, so I addressed all the courses. I don't think it's difficult to apply to Earth Sciences and Geophysics courses since the latter is simply a part of the former (it's not like trying to write a PS for Medicine and Chemistry, or Biology and Chemistry). As long as it's clear that your main interests are with the physical sciences whilst you appreciate the holistic nature of the Earth Sciences, you'll be fine. I had two interviews for straight-Geophysics and both were very happy with what I said.
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JD1lla
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(Original post by SciLife)
Sorry I forgot to say that I'm applying for pure Geology but know that some universities offer offer applied geophysics modules. That's good to hear about the job opportunities. Would you recommend going to to more prestigious university like Imperial over somewhere less because i was considering it however wasn't sure if that made a huge difference or not in terms of job prospects.
The applied geophysics will most likely be 'Environmental Geophysics' or something similar, so not mathsy. Here, you use methods and equipment to determine the nature of the sub-surface you are looking at. This is a very employable and essential skill to have.

Most graduate jobs will be in the environmental side of things, for example, working for a local council to determine if there is pollution or contamination of an area underground for example, and if so, how to map it to see if it is spreading etc.

Most of your higher paid jobs will be in exploration geophysics; looking for that juicy oil!
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JD1lla
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
I can send you my personal statement as an example if you want since my offer is now unconditional anyway. My personal statement was unashamedly targeted at Oxford but I honestly described my interests in the Earth Sciences which mainly involves the physics side, so I addressed all the courses. I don't think it's difficult to apply to Earth Sciences and Geophysics courses since the latter is simply a part of the former (it's not like trying to write a PS for Medicine and Chemistry, or Biology and Chemistry). As long as it's clear that your main interests are with the physical sciences whilst you appreciate the holistic nature of the Earth Sciences, you'll be fine. I had two interviews for straight-Geophysics and both were very happy with what I said.
Are you at university yet?

If you aren't, you'll be damn sick of plagioclase and every other damn feldspar by the time you are done
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by JD1lla)
Are you at university yet?

If you aren't, you'll be damn sick of plagioclase by the time you are done
Nope, and I'm sure I will be! I kept seeing Plagioclase in the books I've been reading so I figured it's probably important and went with it...
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JD1lla
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
Nope, and I'm sure I will be! I kept seeing Plagioclase in the books I've been reading so I figured it's probably important and went with it...
Yeah it's important. It's used as a diagnostic tool in determining the nature of igneous rocks. It's also found in very large quanities in the earth's crust.
Although your avatar doesn't look like any plagioclase i've seen....looks more like labradorite (a kind of plagioclase to put it simply, but I haven't looked at it with a microscope)
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by JD1lla)
Yeah it's important. It's used as a diagnostic tool in determining the nature of igneous rocks. It's also found in very large quanities in the earth's crust.
Although your avatar doesn't look like any plagioclase i've seen....
No, it's Labradorite. Consistency isn't one of my strengths :P

Edit: According to wikipedia it is part of the plagioclase group. I don't know, I just think it looks pretty.
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JD1lla
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
No, it's Labradorite. Consistency isn't one of my strengths :P

Edit: According to wikipedia it is part of the plagioclase group. I don't know, I just think it looks pretty.
Ah, thought so (See my edit). You probably won't look at that in thin section. You will be sick of plagioclase and feldspars and pyroxenes and the like, but the good thing about plagioclase is that it's really easy to identify under a microscope (apart from labradorite)
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by JD1lla)
Ah, thought so (See my edit). You probably won't look at that in thin section. You will be sick of plagioclase and feldspars and pyroxenes and the like, but the good thing about plagioclase is that it's really easy to identify under a microscope (apart from labradorite)
Honestly I know absolutely nothing about mineralogy at the moment! I've been introduced to the Earth Sciences through climate science and most of the reading I've done so far is on paleoclimate but I am really looking forward to doing things I have never done before, like mineralogy and paleobiology. I did use thin sections under cross polars at a short session last Summer but I don't remember much, the only thing I remember is that there's something containing sulfur that's always black no matter how much you rotate the section.
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JD1lla
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
Honestly I know absolutely nothing about mineralogy at the moment! I've been introduced to the Earth Sciences through climate science and most of the reading I've done so far is on paleoclimate but I am really looking forward to doing things I have never done before, like mineralogy and paleobiology. I did use thin sections under cross polars at a short session last Summer but I don't remember much, the only thing I remember is that there's something containing sulfur that's always black no matter how much you rotate the section.
I only did one module in paleobiology, which was analysing fossils and trying to understand the biomechanics/biology behind the animal it once was. You also look at methods of fossilization. This is important in the umbrella of Sedimentology, fossils provide evidence of age periods/type of rock and can be useful in determining the type of environment the rocks you have found are in.

Minerology is interesting, and very important, but I found it quite difficult. The rotation of a mineral is to determine something called extinction (angle). Extinction is when, at certain angles, the mineral appears black. Minerals that are always black are known as isotropic, ie, let no light through. They inform you of the type of mineral it is. It could be opaque or metallic or whatnot.
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It depends what you want to do with your degree.
A survey was once done by the AAPG across the UK, America and Canada, showing that oil companies vastly preferred graduates with "Geoscience" degrees rather than Geophysics or Geology. I am assuming that Earth Sciences is just a different name for Geoscience, and thus in terms of undergrad prospects, a broader Earth Sciences qualification would trump a Geology or Geophysics qualification.
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JD1lla
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(Original post by Shane Webb)
It depends what you want to do with your degree.
A survey was once done by the AAPG across the UK, America and Canada, showing that oil companies vastly preferred graduates with "Geoscience" degrees rather than Geophysics or Geology. I am assuming that Earth Sciences is just a different name for Geoscience, and thus in terms of undergrad prospects, a broader Earth Sciences qualification would trump a Geology or Geophysics qualification.
Could you please post this study? I'd be interested to read it. We have small - large companies come directly to our university to give talks on prospective careers. We often exchange CVs/contacts and a lot of our top graduates get jobs with these companies.
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