​​Postgraduate programme

M.Sc. and Ph.D.

Prospective external students should apply directly to the Department of Earth Sciences for admission to the postgraduate (MSc and PhD) programmes, through personal contact with the academic member of staff who is the prospective supervisor. Search the list of academic staff and their research interests to find the right person to contact.

Students must meet the primary Faculty requirements for admission to the particular degree and must abide by Faculty deadlines for admission. For this information students should refer to the Science Faculty website or contact the Faculty Officer, Mr Bevin Abels, email or +27 21 808 9111.

Prior to initial registration the supervisor and student should seek Departmental permission to register by submitting a project proposal to the Research Student Committee (RSC). Find more information in the "Prospective Students" Section.



B.Sc. Honours

A B.Sc. Honours is a requirement to obtain professional registration ​to work as an independent geologist (Professional Natural Scientist, SACNASP). Consult the Earth Sciences Honours Handbook 2018 for more detailed information.

Introduction to the honours course slides ​from this mornings introduction. The honours handbook is the official source nr 1 to use though.​

 If you would like to apply for the Honours course find further details on the prospective postgraduate page.



Programme Structure
The honours programme in Earth Sciences is composed of three compulsory modules,
a research project and two further modules from one of two streams.

The streams are:
(1) Applied Geology and (2) Environmental Geochemistry

The content of each of these modules is further divided into sections at the departmental level and may vary from year to year. The Department reserves the right to not offer a given module or stream depending on staff availability and student numbers. The specific content of streams and modules for each year is provided prior to commencement of the honours year. It is possible for students to take elements of different modules in consultation with their supervisor and the honours co-ordinator.


For more information on the postgraduate programmes the Faculty of Science has to offer, consult the Postgraduate Programmes section of the Faculty of Science website.  For detailed information on the postgraduate programmes in Earth Science, click through to Department of Earth Sciences in the menue on the right hand side.



Selection of Module Contents

Geology of Southern Africa
Plate tectonic scenarios in the evolution of Southern Africa; geological settings, structural and lithological inventories; interpretation of geological maps and sections; practical application of geological concepts to field-based problems; advanced field techniques; field-based sedimentological and stratigraphic concepts and relationship to tectonic models. Includes two weeks' fieldwork.

Research Methods in Earth Sciences
Theoretical and practical techniques in Earth Sciences, including sample selection and characterisation, sample preparation and analytical techniques, geostatistical analysis of datasets, data presentation, report writing, spatial analysis and modelling with GIS; application of GIS to understanding geological problems.

Concepts in Crustal Evolution
Advanced petrological concepts in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks; modelling of whole-rock and mineral-geochemical datasets in the interpretation of rock suites and physicochemical conditions of formation; techniques in geochronology and application to solving geological problems, applied structural geology, analysis of complexly deformed terrains.

Economic Geology
Mineral markets and commodities, ore reserve calculations, ore microscopy, genetic implications of ore textures and paragenesis, geophysical exploration for ore deposits, introduction to geological modelling software, mine data-management systems.

Hazardous Waste Site Assessment
Geological, geophysical and engineering techniques for reconnaissance, sampling and assessment of hazardous waste sites, analytical techniques relevant to hazardous environmental systems, construction and monitoring of hazardous waste sites.

Environmental Systems
Application of geochemical proxies for environmental processes; environmental sampling, analysis and interpretation of environmental datasets, hydrogeological concepts, use of isotope tracers to understand element movement in the regolith and water systems.