Undergraduate qualifications and courses


Geologically, New Zealand is one of the most active regions of the world as our volcanoes, earthquakes and breathtaking scenery testify. The enormous variety of geological features in New Zealand provides us with the ultimate living laboratory, enabling us to expose our students to a learning experience recognised internationally for its quality.

Earth is the only planet we have and sustains all life, we believe understanding its history and how it works should be part of everyone's education!

Undergraduate courses in Geology are designed both for students majoring in Geology and for students taking a few courses in Geology while majoring in other subjects.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements for starting first-year studies in Geology. Some knowledge of basic science is preferable but not essential.

Students intending to proceed to more advanced courses in Geology must take other supporting science subjects. Although these are a matter of personal choice, our staff are always happy to give advice based on a student’s interests, proposed post-graduate courses and/or career pathway.  

Compulsory Geology courses

Starting a BSc with a major in Geology is straightforward. Most students begin by taking the compulsory Geology courses (GEOL111GEOL113 and GEOL115) during their first year, but students who discover an interest in Geology later can also take the core courses during their second year.

Course requirements

Students intending to major in Geology need a minimum of 135 points in Geology of which at least 60 points should be at 300 level.

Students who have not taken Maths (with Calculus) to Year 13 or Scholarship level should strongly consider taking 15 points of MATH (eg MATH101) before enrolling in 200-level courses. All students are encouraged to include 15 points of Statistics or Mathematics, which will count as a Science course.

Postgraduate study options are available in Geology, Engineering Geology, Disaster Risk and Resilience, and Environmental Science.

Students wishing to go on to postgraduate study should check the degree options and requirements on the postgraduate information page, and make sure they seek advice about entry requirements early.

Study in the field (outdoors) is a vital component of any first degree in Geology and students are required to participate in field work in several courses.

For information on current field trip and/or equipment costs for courses within our undergraduate programme please select from the following:

There are numerous scholarships and prizes available to UC students at all levels. Use the Scholarships database to search for possible funding.

A degree in Geology offers you a very wide range of work environments and a variety of employment matched by few other disciplines.

Keep your options open

The multi-disciplinary aspect of Geology means that you may wish to combine studies in geology with other subjects such as chemistry, biology, physics, geography, mathematics or computer sciences.

A world of opportunities

Such combinations may lead you into the rapidly expanding areas of engineering geology, geophysics, geochemistry, hazards management or environmental science. Other powerful combinations are geology with commerce or law - this could lead you into management in the minerals industry or development of environmental legislation. International travel is a high expectation for a geologist. Advanced study on topics such as volcanic eruptions or earthquake activity may take you to several countries. You may do research in Antarctic geology which has many links to the geology of New Zealand.

Internationally active staff

Many of the staff in Geological Sciences are actively involved in exciting, international research projects. Geology is truly multidisciplinary. As such research interests cover a huge range of topics and reflect the diverse range of expertise in the department. Our staff are enthusiastic about their research and want undergraduate students to be aware of their work and its implications; at the postgraduate level, opportunities for students to become actively involved in these projects are emphasised.

Research in action

"Lava chasers" featuring University of Canterbury volcanologist Dr Ben Kennedy.  Ben was on Hawaii testing a new theory about how bubbles collapse in lava, and the weather channel filmed the process.

Need more information?

Talk to the College of Science Student Advisor