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The Department of Earth Sciences offers separate degree programmes in Applied Geology and Environmental and Water Science.

First year teaching in fundamental geology and Earth systems science is shared across both programmes, and while students specialise in either Applied Geology or Environmental and Water Science from second year, there are a number of shared elective modules that build a broad understanding across the Earth and environmental sciences.

Discipline-specific training is provided from third year, preparing students for careers in petroleum geosciences and exploration, mining and mine-impact remediation, water resources management in urban and agricultural landscapes, environmental impact assessment, and environmental and ecological remediation and restoration.

Water, one of the world’s most important resources, is also widely studied at UWC. This involves aquifer geochemistry and recharge, surface water rivers, streams and runoff. Our environmental component prepares graduates to work either for government, mining houses or independent consultants with regards to environmental remediation, mine waste and effluent or water resource planning.

The Applied Geology section of the Earth Sciences department aims to prepare young graduates for careers in either industry or academia, with a strong emphasis on developing a practical, hands-on foundation to geology.

The first year focuses on a wide introduction to earth sciences with topics intended to impart basic field skills, terminology, report writing, geochemistry and rock & mineral identification.
This is built on in the second year of study through more advanced field skills delivered in the Hottentots Holland Mountains reserve over multiple days, introduction to mineral optics, polarized light and thin sections, practical geochemistry, structural geology and mapping skills. A geographic information system (GIS) is also introduced through ArcGIS, one of the key software packages used throughout industry.

The third year of study, as an exit level course, is designed to produce well-rounded graduates through extensive practicals in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary petrology that involve both hand samples, thin sections and theory components. Also involved in the third year is advanced structural geology, geochemistry, field skills, report writing and more detailed practicals and introductions to software packages like ArcGIS, Leapfrog (deposit and data modeling) and downhole explorer (core logging and interpretation).

First year teaching in environmental & water science provides an introduction to Earth systems theory, and covers fundamental processes of the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.

Second year covers physical hydrology and soil science, an introduction to groundwater systems, and core water science field and laboratory skills.

At third year, we develop an advanced understanding of surface and groundwater processes and hydrochemistry, and environmental and water resources management, and provide training in environmental and water science applications of geospatial analysis and remote sensing technology.

From here, students can progress to postgraduate study through our Honours degree or postgraduate diploma in Integrated Water Resources Management, or leave university to gain skills through numerous environmental and water science internship opportunities, or junior positions at environmental and engineering consultancies, government water or environmental departments, or non-governmental organisations.