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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Climate change and humanity’s response to it will define life on the planet for billions of people but despite this there are few undergraduate degrees that focus on the broader climate problem. 

This BSc in Climate Science uniquely offers a big-picture approach encompassing both recent and past climate change and its impact on Earth and human systems. It provides a holistic overview of climate science and equips you with the knowledge and skills to lead society towards the mitigation of this emergency.

Our flexible degree puts you in control. It gives you both the fundamentals and increased specialisation as you progress through the course, allowing you to choose a pathway of most interest to you. The degree acknowledges the breadth of the field of climate science and provides you with a solid background in diverse aspects of climate science that span geological time. 

In the first year, you will learn about climate change and develop your understanding of Earth processes and resources.

In Year 2, you will learn about isotopes and can opt to study glaciers, the carbon cycle, how the Earth’s climate has varied in the past and how scientists reconstruct past climate change.

In your final year, you will study Earth Systems and can choose to learn about how climate change impacts coastal and alpine environments, atmospheric circulation, how it affected ancient civilisations, or explore the geochemistry of the environment. You will also undertake a dissertation and conduct fundamental research into an advanced topic of your choice related to climate science.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Environmental Earth Science covers the Earth’s water cycle in terms of both quantity and quality. You will learn about the composition and materials of the Earth, the mode of formation, distribution and extraction of the Earth's resources and energy.

Introduction to Climate Change introduces you to contemporary climate change, incorporating the physical science underpinning our understanding of past, present and future climate change. It also explores some of the most serious impacts and competing perspectives around major climate change controversies

Introductory Data Science introduces the fundamentals of data acquisition and analysis in a geoscientific context. You will learn how to apply computational tools to manipulate and visualise a range of scientific and geospatial data.

Sustainability introduces global issues and concepts around sustainability, with an emphasis on aspects most relevant to Earth Sciences such as water, climate, energy and mineral resources, food resources, and natural hazards, and is thematically taught around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Field Studies
  • Mathematical Methods in Geosciences 
  • Further Mathematics for Geoscientists
  • Understanding Earth Sciences 
  • Planet under Pressure. 

Year 2

Core modules:

Isotopes and Climate covers how isotopes can be used in understanding the environment and climate systems as well as identifying major events in the Earth's climate evolution. The module covers the human impact on the global climate and how to understand and analyse future climate change predictions.

Earth System and Climate: The Quaternary enhances your understanding of the interconnectivity between different components of the Earth System and their relevance to climate, with a focus on modern and Pleistocene climate change and its causes.

Earth System and Climate: Long Term Processes provides an understanding of the interconnectivity between different components of the Earth System and their relevance to climate, with a focus on long-term climate change and its causes.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Sedimentary Environments
  • Fieldwork
  • Modelling Earth Processes 
  • Ancient Life and its Environments
  • Frontiers in Palaeontology
  • Carbon and Biogeochemical Cycles 
  • Climate Change: Geographical Perspectives 
  • Glaciers and Glaciation 
  • Reconstructing Environmental Change. 

Year 3

Core modules:

Worth one-third of your final-year marks, you will produce an independent research Dissertation based on a computing, field or laboratory project chosen to suit your interests. 

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Earth Sciences into Schools
  • Atmospheric Circulation and Dynamics 
  • Monitoring the Oceans: Geohazards & Climate Change
  • Groundwater Hydrology
  • Polar Quaternary Environmental Processes
  • Geochemistry of the Earth
  • Environmental Management
  • Sea Level Change and Coastal Evolution
  • Oceans Past and Present
  • Ice Age Environments
  • Antarctic Environments
  • Archaeology and Global Sustainable Developments .


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


The course is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, tutorials and optional fieldwork. The balance of these activities changes over the degree, as you develop your knowledge and your ability as an independent learner in preparation for professional life or postgraduate study. 

In Year 1, lectures and practicals dominate the timetable. You are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge.

The balance starts to shift in the second year, with greater emphasis on self-directed learning and an opportunity to practice research methods.

In the final year, you will carry out a dissertation, producing a significant piece of independent research.


You will be assessed through a combination of coursework, class tests and end-of-year examinations. A significant proportion of your final assessment will be through your research dissertation in the final year. The dissertation is worth one-third of your final-year marks.

The range of assessment methods is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of climate-specific knowledge, alongside transferable skills in mathematics, scientific writing, informatics, policy, critical analysis and project management.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAB including two sciences from Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Further Mathematics, Geography, Geology, Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Physics or Psychology.

Contextual offer – BBB/ABC including two sciences from Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Further Mathematics, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics or Psychology.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD

IB Diploma score 36 with 665 in higher level subjects, including two science subjects from list above.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Earth Sciences

Our flexible courses have been developed to meet the needs of industry and provide you with the skills you need to succeed. You will graduate with the scientific foundations and transferable skills to move directly into the workplace or to progress to a more specialised postgraduate qualification.

Career prospects for Durham graduates are excellent. Geology and Earth Sciences graduates are highly valued by employers and go on to a wide range of highly successful careers in the sector and beyond, working in industry and research, including environmental management, water management, energy and engineering geology. Some of the high-profile employers our graduates have gone on to work for include ATKINS, ARUP, Centrica and the Environment Agency.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 91% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 100% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £26,825

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Earth Sciences

Our lives on Earth are at a turning point. Studying Earth Sciences provides knowledge and insight into the implications of this and explores society’s options to secure a sustainable future for the Earth, its environment and its inhabitants.

Earth Sciences is the holistic study of the planet from the core to the surface, its water and the surrounding atmosphere.

Durham is one of the UK’s leading providers of Earth Sciences education. We offer six undergraduate courses, four of which are accredited by The Geological Society of London. Our courses explore the full geological spectrum including climate change, oceans, mass extinctions, rocks and minerals, volcanoes, and the structure and chemistry of the Earth. Our multidisciplinary approach applies physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physical geography to real world scenarios to make sense of today's major geoscience concerns.

Course structures are flexible with a balance of formal teaching, fieldwork and active learning to put your theoretical knowledge into practice. You can tailor your degree to your interests through the wide range of optional modules and you may also be able to spend a year studying abroad, extending your degree by a year. All our degree courses are informed by the latest pure and applied research, and you can be sure your education is in sync with the latest thinking and will help you on your journey to a profession in the Earth Sciences sector and beyond.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in QS World University Subject Rankings 2023

  • 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2024

  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 7th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Earth Sciences Department web pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Top 10 in the UK for research outputs (REF 2021)


Situated on the main Lower Mountjoy Campus, our teaching takes place in the modern, purpose-built Arthur Holmes Building equipped with brand-new optical microscopes and a large teaching collection of rocks, fossils, geological maps, and thin sections.

We use industry-standard and research-level software (e.g., ESRI ArcGIS Pro, Python and Matlab). If your dissertation or research project involves laboratory study, you can access our world-class geochemistry and rock mechanics labs.

Throughout your course, you will have the opportunity to develop observation and analytical skills on residential field trips to study mountains, deserts, caves, volcanoes, rift valleys, faults and fossils.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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