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Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London

Welcome to Birkbeck

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

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Extensive fieldwork opportunities

We provide opportunities for students to participate in fieldwork at locations around the globe.

At postgraduate and MPhil/PhD level we support your independent fieldwork projects.

Planetary geology is a key part of our research

Our researchers are investigating the potential for mining the Moon, landing sites for the ExoMars 2018 mission and astrobiology, the search for life in the universe.

Study with us through distance learning

The option to study through distance learning for our undergraduate and selected postgraduate courses, helps students to combine study with their work and family commitments.

REF2014 research excellence

REF 2014 results ranked the department (in a joint submission with UCL) 6th in the UK. Research impact was considered outstanding and 90% of the department's research output was described as of high international standing.

Department ranked in top ten in Complete University Guide

The Department was awarded sixth place for the study of Geology in the 2014 university and subject league tables from the Complete University Guide.

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Distance learning degrees

We offer the only distance learning degrees (BSc Geology, BSc Earth Sciences, BSc Environmental Geology, BSc Planetary Sciences with Astronomy, MSc Geochemistry) and certificates supported by full lecture videos (streamed over the web) and digital lecture notes.
Sample our free online taster course: Structural Geology (module 1)


We have 11 active research grants among our 15 academic staff. (4 NERC grants, 2 Leverhulme grants, 3 STFC grants, 1 UK Space Agency grant, 1 DEFRA grant) Find out more.

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Funding and awards

London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Projects We are one of the research centres for this PhD funding programme.

Emily Paige Short Pioneer Fund Financial assistance for students in their academic activities beyond normal study in the area of petrology and related fields.

Tim Newling Fund Funding for field classes for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Birkbeck-North Korea volcano study offers positive lessons in science diplomacy

Researchers behind pioneering Earth sciences project share findings on best practice

Professor Hilary Downes elected to the Presidency of the Mineralogical Society

Professor Downes plans to raise the profile of this well-established society with its excellent resources during her Presidency.

€2M ERC Consolidator grant awarded to Dr Pogge von Strandmann for carbon cycle research

Studying silicate weathering during past climate change can help us manage the earth’s carbon cycle.

Life exploded on Earth after slow rise of oxygen

Research from the Department for Earth and Planetary Sciences, based at Birkbeck and UCL, sheds new light on what enabled animal life to flourish on Earth.

Online taster course
Structural Geology: Lecture 1, part 1

Online support materials
Using eastings and northings on a compass