Students can read for either a three-year degree leading to a BA (Hons) or a four-year degree leading to a M.Earth Sci. (Hons), the first three years being common to both courses. The first year involves study of selected topics in the Earth Sciences and a course in Mathematics, and with an examination at the end of the year. In the second and third years the course covers the whole field of Earth Sciences: petrology, mineral physics, palaeontology, sedimentology, geochemistry, geophysics, stratigraphy, economic geology, geodynamics, tectonics and structural geology.
A practical exam is held at the end of the second year. The third-year examination includes, as well as theory and practical papers, a report based on the results of a geological mapping project carried out by the undergraduate during a vacation (usually the second long vacation) in a personally selected field area and a research essay.
In the fourth year, the student specialises in chosen areas of Earth Sciences and carries out research under the supervision of a faculty adviser, leading to a written research report, as well as written examinations.
Professor Das is a seismologist, specializing in the study of earthquakes worldwide. Dr Mac Niocaill is a field geologist, specializing in tectonics and palaeomagnetism.
After graduation, students take up employment in diverse areas, including petroleum and mining companies, geological surveys and museums, industrial and civil engineering concerns, administration, broadcasting, merchant banking, publishing, etc. Many continue research in Earth Sciences leading to a higher degree.
Earth Science is one of the most suitable subjects for a scientific, but non-vocational higher education. This is because of its wide range, its contact with so many other physical sciences, and its relevance to the environment in which we live.