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Earth sciences

B.A.; 4 years full-time; 19 places; 475

What is Earth Sciences?

Earth Sciences combines the study of geography, geology, environmental science, chemistry and physics, to provide a complete understanding of how the Earth works. It is centred on the concept of Earth System Science which views the planet as a complex system of interconnected parts and considers the flows of matter and energy operating within and between these components. The changes occurring within and among elements of the Earth system, along with the role that humans play as part of this process, are key topics of study.

Is this the right course for you?

Are you concerned about climate and environmental change? Are you interested in getting to the heart of the science behind the media ‘spin’? Do you want to know how the Earth works, from the top of its atmosphere to the centre of its core? Are you seeking a qualification that will give you access to a broad range of careers? If the answer to these questions is yes, then Earth Sciences may well be for you.

The Earth Sciences degree at Trinity provides the scientific basis for understanding many of the major challenges that society faces in the 21st century. The spectacular success of our species has been fuelled by our ability to harness Earth’s natural resources and manipulate them for our own purposes. With the number of people on the planet set to top 10 billion before the century is out, it is critical that we learn how to manage the Earth in a sustainable manner, whilst dealing with the legacy of our planetary tinkering. Rather than simply teaching about subjects such as global warming, sea level rise, extreme weather, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and extinction, this course explores the underlying processes at work and provides the context necessary to identify and evaluate the effects of human activities.

Why study Earth Sciences at Trinity?

At Trinity you will learn from internationally renowned earth scientists whose current research is integrated into the course. Traditional lectures are complemented by practical training in laboratory classes, which provide hands-on experience, employing a range of techniques and equipment. Fieldwork, including two overseas field courses, is an integral part of the programme, with further opportunities to work outside the classroom as part of your independent research project. This project will introduce you to the exciting world of scientific research and the process by which new knowledge is developed.

Our final year students research topics that are drawn from across the full spectrum of Earth Science and have included: reconstructing environmental and climate change by analysing ancient vegetation, land surfaces and ocean temperatures around Ireland; probing African lakes to understand the frequency of volcanic eruptions and causes of vegetation change; analysing images from Martian landers and satellites to understand the physical process operating on another planet; hunting for economic trace metal deposits in discarded mine waste; and analysing the geochemistry of individual mineral grains to understand the plumbing of an active volcano.

What will you study?

The first two years of this course cover the foundation modules, while students may tailor the degree to their own preferences in the final two years. The Freshman (first two) years provide a grounding in the physical and geosciences with particular emphasis on physical geography, geology and human-environment interactions. In the third year, you will begin to deepen your knowledge in particular subject areas, whilst developing a range of practical and technical skills. This year culminates with your selection of a specialist area of research that will form the focus of your final year project, and your participation in an overseas field course. In the fourth year, you will complete a significant piece of independent research on your chosen specialism (dissertation) as well as broadening your field experience during the final overseas field course. You will complete your studies by building your own programme, comprising advanced, research-led modules taught by staff in geography and geology.


Introduction to Geography I: Physical; Introduction to Geography Ii: Human – Environment; Junior Freshman Geology; Foundation Physics for Life and Earth Sciences; General and Physical Chemistry; Mathematical Methods.


Dynamic Earth 1: Rocks and Evolution; Dynamic Earth 2: Structure and Microscopy; Earth Sciences Field Course; Geochemistry for Earth Scientists; Physical Geography: Changing Environments; Human Geography: Changing Worlds; Physics for Earth Scientists; Broad Curriculum Module (see Broad Curriculum).


Advanced Research Methods in Earth Science; Geological Field Skills 2; Practical Physical Geography; Deserts of our Solar System; Sedimentology; Glacial Geomorphology; Periglacial Geomorphology; Microscopy and Crystalline Rocks; Human Origins; Reconstructing Ocean and Coastal Change.


Earth Sciences Research Project; Earth Sciences Sophister Field Course; Understanding Environmental Change; Glacial Geomorphology; Periglacial Geomorphology; Human Origins; Reconstructing Ocean and Coastal Change; Global Igneous Petrology; Analysis in Geological, Earth and Environmental Research; Micropalaeontology and Evolution; Organic Petrology, Palynology and Palaeobotany; Hydrology and Water Quality; Planet Formation and the Early Earth; Climate Change.

If you would like more detailed information on all the modules offered, see:


There is currently a global shortage of geoscientists. Careers leading directly from Earth Sciences include work in: environmental, engineering and geological consultancies; mineral exploration companies; the oil industry; environmental planning; government geological surveys; teaching and research. Many of our graduates have gone on to work in research in Ireland and abroad. Others have chosen to further develop their skills in particular specialist areas such as petroleum exploration, hydrology, GIS and Earth Observation and have been admitted to a range of postgraduate taught programmes. Further information on life after an Earth Sciences degree is available on our Facebook page (see below).

Further information


Email: | Tel: +353 (0)1 896 1074

Student Profile

Clare Stead

The small class size made us a close-knit group from the start which made for a friendly atmosphere. The strong practical element of the course was great, both for reinforcing what we learnt during lectures and bringing the class together as a group. The final year fieldtrip to Sicily was a highlight for me – we got to see the beautiful Turkish Steps, stand inside an old lava tube, and even watch glowing lava flows at night as they erupted from Mount Etna!

Course Options




4 years full-time

Points Required


Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is


Minimum entry points required are 475
More information on minimum entry points


Combinations of subjects not permitted:
Physics/chemistry with physics or chemistry
Agricultural science with biology
Applied mathematics with mathematics

See also:

TR001: TSM
TR071: Science

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

Leaving Certificate HD3 or OC3 Mathematics HC3 In two of: physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics/chemistry, geology, geography, applied mathematics or agricultural science
GCSE criteriaGrade B Mathematics
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C In two of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, geology, geography or applied mathematics
Combinations of subjects not permitted: Physics/chemistry with physics or chemistry Agricultural science with biology Applied mathematics with mathematics


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Earth Sciences, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2016

Non-EU Applicants

  • Earth Sciences, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2016
  • CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



    Combinations of subjects not permitted:
    Physics/chemistry with physics or chemistry
    Agricultural science with biology
    Applied mathematics with mathematics

    See also:

    TR001: TSM
    TR071: Science