Imperial College London

Course Introduction

Modern geoscience is moving beyond the confines of Planet Earth to explore the geological and geophysical processes that shaped the Solar System.

The abundance of recent planetary missions together with the development of novel techniques in studying extraterrestrial materials and processes is yielding radical new insights into Solar System evolution. Forthcoming planetary exploration missions offer numerous new opportunities to learn about planetary origins and evolution. Geological and geophysical knowledge and skills underpin modern investigation of solid planetary bodies in the Solar System.

Our new degree in Earth and Planetary Science will focus on geological and geophysical processes in the Solar System, with particular emphasis on the planets, moons and smaller bodies, such as asteroids and comets. It firstly provides you with a strong theoretical and practical foundation in earth science, and then teaches you how to apply that to planetary science. Our goal is to teach you how dust and gas in the early stages of Solar System formation eventually evolved into planets including Earth that is capable of supporting life.

You will focus on understanding Earth and other solid bodies in the solar system. The foundation in earth science will emphasise the fundamentals of geology and geophysics. From this you will learn how Earth’s atmosphere, life, surface, interior and external influences operate, interact and evolve. That foundation is then applied to other solid planetary bodies, to help understand solar system formation and evolution, and the physics, chemistry and geology of the main solid planetary bodies. Key planetary science questions you will examine include for example:

' How have collisions shaped planetary surfaces and affected planetary and biological evolution?

' What does the chemistry of meteorites tell us about planetary body evolution?

' How can we reconstruct the climate history of Mars from analyzing pictures from rovers on the martian surface?

' Where is the best place to search for life in the Solar System?

This highly interdisciplinary degree provides skills in geoscience, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and computing.

All our courses combine a strong traditional emphasis on observational and field skills with modern numerical and analytical techniques required for a deep, quantitative understanding of Earth and Planetary processes and systems. Field skills are important for studying planetary geology because, for example, analysis of Mars rover'derived data focusses on the identification, mapping and interpretation of geological relationships in the search for the best rocks to investigate in the search for possible ancient life.

Our departmental involvement with current and future planetary missions will provide unique insight into mission science and the opportunity to study recently acquired data.

We also emphasise the development of transferable professional skills such as group working, problem'solving, drawing inferences from incomplete data, computational methods and IT, and oral and written communication. You can expect a balance between theory and practice, including a variety of field trips in the UK and abroad.

You follow a pathway of core modules in years one and two, before studying specialised modules in the third and fourth years.

Modules in the first two years are taken alongside students from other Earth Science degrees, and focus on the fundamentals of the subject.

You then specialise in your third year, choosing between physics and geology orientated optional modules. There is also a major project in both years, providing a further opportunity to specialise.

You can also diversify your studies with opportunities to study business, language and humanities modules, if you wish, through the Imperial Horizons programme.

Start Date:


Duration & Attendance Qualification Tuition fees Fee type
3 years
Full Time
Bachelor of Science (with Honours) - BSc (Hons)