Exploration Geophysics, M.Sc.

University rank #133 ,
This Exploration Geophysics course from the University of Leeds prepares you to embark on a career in resource exploration, environmental and engineering geophysics. Running for over 50 years it is well-established and has strong links to industry. It provides you with a broad range of practical skills, underpinned by a theoretical understanding that equips you to become a professional in your chosen field.


Geophysics is the remote study of the Earth through physical techniques – principally analysing seismic data, but also applying gravity, magnetic, electromagnetic, and electrical methods. It is a key element of geological analysis for oil, gas and mineral exploration or for environmental and engineering assessment.

You will also undertake a four-month individual project, mostly in association with an external company or institute and often in their offices.

Demand for geophysicists continues to be high and this well-established programme has an exceptionally good record of job placement for both UK/EU and overseas students.

Course highlights:
  • Network with energy, geophysical acquisition, processing and software companies, who visit regularly to engage and recruit our students.
  • Undertake a four-month individual project, mostly in association with an external company or institute and often in their offices.
  • Access our state-of-the-art computer suite that runs a comprehensive range of industry-standard software on hi-spec twin-screen workstations.
  • Develop your field skills with our sector-leading portfolio of field geophysical equipment.
  • Apply for a scholarship – we have a large number of School and dedicated external (industry) scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Career opportunities

Demand for geophysicists has always been high. A Masters is generally considered an appropriate level to embark on a career in resource exploration and the course at Leeds has an exceptionally good record of job placement for both UK/EU and overseas students.

Many energy, and service-sector companies target the course directly for recruitment with numerous company visits through the year. Other opportunities arise from project placements, the EAGE, or the September Open Day of project seminars and presentations, with which the programme closes.

Most students join energy or minerals companies, or geophysical acquisition, processing, interpretation or software companies.

This Exploration Geophysics course is offered by the University of Leeds.


This programme is accredited by The Geological Society, the UK’s professional body for Earth science and the oldest geological society in the world.

Programme Structure

Course content

You will study 8 taught modules and an individual project.

Taught modules cover a broad range of geophysical disciplines as applied to resource, environmental and engineering industries.

The individual project is the most challenging and exciting part of the course. It runs from May to September and tests your skills in applying the experiences acquired over the year to a specific problem.

Most projects have an association with an exploration company or other external organisation and you could work alongside geoscience professionals in the offices of industrial partners.

Projects typically include investigations of specific geological prospects, comparisons of novel seismic processing algorithms and integrated geophysical investigations from basin to quarry scale.

Compulsory modules
  • Exploration Geophysics: Project and Dissertation
  • Computational Inverse Theory
  • Petrophysics and Petroleum Geology
  • Seismic Reservoir Evaluation and Recent Developments
  • Geophysical and Geological Field Methods and Geological Interpretation
  • Gravity and Magnetic Methods
  • Seismic Fundamentals and Acquisition
  • Seismic Data Processing
  • Seismic Reflection Interpretation and Sequence Stratigraphy
For more information, please visit the programme website.

Detailed Programme Facts

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score: 6.5

    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

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  • Minimum required score (Grade B2): 176

    The CAE test – or the Cambridge Advanced English – is an exam for applicants who wish to get a Certificate in Advanced English. To receive the Advanced certificate, test-takers must score between 142 and 210 on the Cambridge English: Advanced test. Read more about CAE.

    Note: degree programmes and applications may require a more specific minimum score for admission.

  • Minimum required score: 92

    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

Entry requirements
  • A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in geosciences (eg geology or geophysics) or a numerate discipline, such as physics or mathematics, although relevant and extensive industry experience can also be taken into account.
  • Applicants should have mathematics to a good A-level grade (or equivalent) as a minimum. Mathematical competence will be assessed prior to joining and additional training may be required.
  • The course is computer-intensive and basic computer literacy including Windows and MS Office are assumed. EDCL/ICDL qualifications are not formally required, but represent the level expected. Familiarity with Linux would also be advantageous as it forms the platform for much of the workstation based training.



ITS, the University of Leeds and other organisations administer a number of scholarships each year for UK, EU and international students. These range from partial course fee payment to full maintenance grants of up to £10000 tax-free plus course fees. Key annual competitions are listed below, but for full details of those currently available, please see the Scholarships Office.

ITS scholarships

For the September intake, ITS is offering up to five fees scholarships for Masters study. These scholarships are designed to provide exceptional opportunities to UK, EU and international students of outstanding ability, achievement and potential.

Other scholarship competitions

UK/EU applicants

  • Brian Large Bursary
  • Rees Jeffreys Road Fund
  • University of Leeds Full-Fee Scholarships
  • Economic & Social Research Council ‘1+3’ (Masters + PhD)
  • Widening Access

International applicants

  • British Chevening Scholarships
  • British Council Awards
  • Commonwealth Scholarship Plan
  • Commonwealth Shared
  • Scholarship Scheme (DfID)
  • Ford Foundation Fellowships
  • Shell Centenary Scholarships
  • Tetley and Lupton Scholarships
  • Techno Scholarships

There is strong competition for scholarships and early application is essential. For certain scholarship competitions, the procedure is for ITS to nominate which applicants it wishes to put forward for consideration to the awarding body.

Our nomination in these cases is based primarily on academic merit (degree result and references), but relevant previous experience and other factors may also be taken into account.

Other funding sources

Given the competitive nature of scholarships, it makes sense to also explore other possibilities, such as:

  • Sponsorship – some organisations provide funding for their current/future employees.
  • Part-time study over two or more years - this spreads the cost and can be alongside paid employment.
  • Career Development Loans.
  • Charitable trusts, professional bodies and other grant-making organisations.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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