Bachelor of Science
Certificate in Science
Graduate Diploma in Science
Bachelor of Science with Honours
Postgraduate Diploma in Science
Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience
Master of Science
Professional Master of Engineering Geology
Doctor of Philosophy

Geology field trip_Castle Hill

© Courtesy of Matt Guiang (Study Abroad student 2014) on a Geology field trip to Castle Hill.


New Zealand, on the active margin of the Pacific with its volcanoes, earthquakes, dramatic geomorphology and 500 million years of geological history, is one of the best places on Earth to study geological processes. Our position in mid-southern latitudes and relative proximity to Antarctica means that New Zealand is a key location for climate change research.

Geologists are directly involved in the monitoring, prediction and assessment of hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis. The geologist has an important role in land planning processes and in assessing environmental impact.

Geologists have developed one of the most exciting new scientific theories of the twentieth century plate tectonics which explains the origin and locations of all the major geological features and Earth building processes of the planet. Geologists also search for the natural resources which sustain our technological society, not least of all, water. The construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams and reservoirs requires geological expertise.

Why study Geology at UC?

The Department of Geological Sciences at UC is one of the top geoscience research departments in the country and not surprisingly, we are leading the world in our studies of earthquakes. First-year students have their own laboratory for practical classes and teaching staff are readily contactable.

Field sciences are a distinctive feature of the subjects offered at UC and are supported through field facilities at Cass and Westport. Field studies are carried out in the locations and environments around these field stations.

UC is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world in Earth and Marine Sciences (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017).

Entry into first-year Geology courses is open to all students who are eligible to enter a New Zealand university. There are no specific requirements for starting first-year studies in Geology and while some knowledge of basic science is preferable, it is not essential. All you need is enthusiasm and an interest in the world around you.


See all Geology courses

100-level courses

You can take one, two or all three of the 100-level courses, depending on preference. However, it is normally necessary to take and pass two in order to gain entry into 200-level Geology courses. To major in this subject, students need to take GEOL 111 and one of the other two courses.

These courses involve lectures and one practical class per week plus one day in the field.

GEOL 113 Environmental Geohazards is an optional first-year course that will be of interest to Science and non-Science students alike and can be credited towards a Bachelor of Arts as well as the Bachelor of Science.

Students should also note that 60 points from the following subjects at 100-level is required for entry into honours in Geology: AstronomyBiological SciencesChemistryComputer ScienceGeographyMathematicsPhysicsStatistics.

200-level and beyond

The six core 200-level Geology courses develop and expand on much of the first-year material. Important geological principles and techniques are taught here, such as the interpretation of sediments, volcanic processes, how rocks deform in the Earth's crust, how ancient geological events are dated and the identification of minerals and rocks using the microscope.

GEOL240 Field Studies A - Mapping and GEOL241 Field Studies B - Field Techniques are field studies courses in which students learn the techniques of geological observation, data collection and field mapping. Excursions are run to several different locations, including to Westport on the West Coast of the South Island where there is a modern, well-equipped field station.

The 300-level courses cover a wide range of topics for the student majoring in Geology.

Career opportunities

A career in Geology offers a very wide spectrum of work environments and employment opportunities. Geology graduates find positions as research scientists, policy analysts, exploration geophysicists, mining and exploration geologists, practitioner engineering geologist with consultancies, natural hazard analysts and consultants, coal and petroleum geologists, teachers, GIS specialists, environmental impact officers and consultants, hydro-geologists, seismic interpreters, resource advisors, research technicians, soil technicians and research assistants, museum curators, and more.

They are employed in the mining and petroleum industries, national and local government, planning and conservation organisations, university teaching and research, secondary teaching, museums and science centres, energy companies, consulting and engineering firms, research institutes and exploration firms.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Geology.

More information

Department of Geological Sciences

Phone +64 3 369 4384

Von Haast building - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand


Gregory Anderson

Gregory Anderson

'I like having the ability to get out and explore in the field one day and be involved in community projects the next...'

Roseanna Gamlen-Greene

Roseanna Gamlen-Greene

'There’s a lot of exciting and innovative research that’s being carried out all the time at UC...'