Fieldwork adds a unique dimension that no other study can provide; there is nothing like being out in the open air, chasing contacts and exposures up streams and across mountain sides.
Over the four-year course there are at least six different taught residential field courses covering a range of destinations in the UK and abroad. Most of the field trips, including the first year trip to Arran are guided tours interspersed with problem-solving exercises, allowing you to learn and practise field techniques of observation and interpretation. You will also find fieldwork an excellent way of understanding more general geological principles.
Field trips are also a very important social part of being a geologist. Strong friendships are built on beaches in Skye on warm summer evenings over a gin and tonic, or when staying inside a windmill and cooking curry for fourteen. You will also get to know your lecturers well - there's not much distinction between lecturer and sudent when both are caught in a freak Greek blizzard!
The links in the sidebar provide a brief overview and pictures of the six main taught field courses. Between your second and third years you can also expect to organise an independent piece of fieldwork as part of a group - the Part II mapping project, in which you will go to any area of the world and be able to work out its billion-year history.
What if I'm not the "outdoors type"?
You'll stay in B&Bs, apartments, cottages and even a windmill on one trip; the idea of the course is to learn geology, not "outdoor skills", and for this good rest and good food is a priority. We don't stay in tents, and you absolutely won't be expected to huddle round a primus stove for your dinner! That said, there is ample opportunity for running up mountains, trekking through bracken and swimming in the sea should you so desire.
Try it! The first year course to Arran offers a good overview of what fieldwork is like.
Do I need lots of gear?
You will need a rucksack, some walking boots and (unfortunately, sometimes) a waterproof. Over the years if you decide to stay in the Earth Sciences department you may decide to invest in other things, such as lightweight trousers, a thermos flask and fieldwork-pens.
Do they cost lots?
Field trips are an integral part of learning and costs are heavily subsidised by the department. Nobody is excluded from fieldwork on financial grounds.