skip to content

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, and interact with the many other researchers.  The key to great research is often to formulate the right 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 14 (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.  This means not only being able recall factually accurate material, but also being able to synthesise material from your lectures, reading and seminars. The best means of achieving this level of understanding, and the ability to communicate it, is to engage fully with the suggested reading for your course options, to always ask questions to your lecturers and supervisors when needed (there is no such thing as a silly question, apart from the question never asked).  It is also essential to arrange regular supervisions to allow you to practice writing essays, obtain essay feedback, and clarify your understanding.  

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 and Bullard Seminars are particularly recommended.  A short seminar series at the beginning of Easter Term will address issues and research broadly inspired by the Easter field trip.  The field trip to South East Spain – is in some sense a revision of the MASt course – and one of its highlights usually takes place in the Easter vacation. 


Luke Skinner and Sanne Cottaar (Part III course-coordinators) or

Useful 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 can help.