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Department of Earth Sciences


There are three principal components to Part III Earth Sciences:

1) The research project

This is the centrepiece of the course, where you address a particular research question over the course of the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. You will submit a report demonstrating your ability to generate new observations, data and ideas.  Importantly, the success (and grading) of these projects is not measured in absolute results, but the approaches you take in pursuing them.  Your project supervisor will be there for general guidance, but it is up to you to drive the work forward, and in the direction you think it should go.  The key is to do lots of reading, attend lots of seminars, ask lots of questions.

2) Option courses

Specialist option courses offered during the Michaelmas and Lent terms are a further step up from Part II lectures, with an increasing focus on current research issues and debates.  As such, the topics and content will vary from year to year, as will the structure of any particular course.  At least 12 (usually more) four-week option courses are offered each year, from which you will officially take six. Easter Term exams will be individually tailored to a particular option, but they all will be looking for an advanced near-research level of understanding.  The key is to do lots of reading, arrange supervisions, ask lots of questions.

3) Seminars and the Easter field trip

The Department hosts a broad range of seminars and seminar series, and you should make it your business to attend as many as possible.  This is the best way of tracking the very latest research in your areas of interest, and seeing how it gets done (and presented).  The Departmental Seminars (Tuesdays at noon) and Bullard Seminars (Wednesdays at 4pm) are particularly recommended. Due to Covid-19 issues, these will all be online via Zoom. A short Pt III seminar series at the beginning of Easter Term will address issues and research broadly connected to the Easter field trip.  Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the trip itself—to SE Spain—may or may not take place this year. A final judgement about whether it is possible to travel will be made nearer the time.

Changes due to Covid-19

This year, every aspect of teaching and participation in departmental activities will be constrained by newly devised protocols designed to keep us all safe. We hope to provide as rich and fulfilling a range of lectures, practicals and project work as we possibly can. The intention is to have most lectures and practicals in socially distanced face-to-face sessions in the department. Project work will be undertaken in conformity with protocols devised for each of the research groups that you will be joining. It is inevitable that changing circumstances, such as an outbreak among students or staff and revised guidelines from the government/university, will result in changes to details of the safety protocols. The fallback position for anyone who is unable to attend in person or if there is further lockdown will be that, as far as possible, lectures and practicals will be available online. Any adjustments to the conduct of the Easter Term exams will be provided in advance, whatever the style of delivery of teaching that has been possible.

Michael Carpenter (Part III course-coordinator)

Common links

Term dates






All course materials can be found on the Earth Sciences Moodle course pages.

Log on to Moodle


Health & safety

Whether in the lab or out on fieldwork, you need to be aware of your health and safety, and what responsibilities you have to look after yourself and your colleagues. Please refer to the Safety Handbook.

Safety Handbook

Writing Fellow

Do you need help with any aspect of writing from generating ideas, planning and structure, to clarity and editing? Our Writing Fellow, Inbali Iserles, can help.