Geophysics Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Geophysics?

Geophysics is the study of the physical processes of the Earth through the use of physics and mathematics – and applying this to our understanding of the Earth.

Geophysics is the study of Earth’s physical characteristics, including the solid planet, the atmosphere, and bodies of water. Geophysical investigations often draw upon information and techniques developed in scientific disciplines such as physics, geology, and astronomy.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Geophysics courses in the following subject areas:

  • Science Project Course: Geosciences – Learn to Investigate and produce an in-depth project about geohazards within a range of defined topics: atmospheric and hydrologic hazards; earthquakes; landslides; meteorite impacts; volcanoes; and tsunami. 
  • Earth and Ocean Sciences – A broad introduction to the study of the Earth’s solid geology and its coastal ocean, with hands-on, practical experience of the techniques employed within the fields of geology, oceanography, and Earth observation.
  • CK 404 Environmental and Earth System Sciences – The study of the various components of our earth systems and the management and protection of essential resources.
  • Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences – The study of the Earth, biological and environmental sciences.
  • Diploma in Geo Economics – An overview of geopolitics, the discipline of geopolitics, fundamentals of geo-economics, and how to apply geo-economics concerning the evolution theory.
  • Geography – Geographers examine the cultures, economies, societies, physical landscape, and environments of the Earth using a unique combination of the humanities, social and natural sciences.
  • Geology – Introduces the fundamentals of the scientific study of the Earth and the practical skills required to understand and interpret geological features and processes.

Studying Geophysics in college

Many Geophysics courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or Fieldwork experience which can be helpful, both in securing a job and working out what career you want.

Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favorably by employers. Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Geophysics you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of the Earth, the atmosphere, and the processes of the Earth.

Job descriptions and job titles vary according to your area of employment. Some geophysicists may be involved in providing environmental consultancy, for example, the investigation of landfill sites using geophysical techniques, or may work within a research institute to investigate seismological structures and provide seismological information to the public and government.

Popular roles include exploration and production, water supply, environmental engineering, and geological surveying. Other areas include environmental planning, geo-conservation, hydrogeology, teaching, and communication.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. In an office or laboratory, you can expect safe, comfortable working conditions and 40-hour working weeks. If you’re involved in exploration, you can expect very different working conditions, which may involve time abroad or at sea.

The role can involve lots of travel, working abroad or at sea depending on whether you work in exploration or laboratories and academia.

Related jobs include:

  • Geologist
  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Geochemist
  • Geophysicist
  • Geoscientist
  • Geotechnical engineer
  • Paleontologist
  • Seismologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Volcanologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Hydrographic surveyor
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Oceanographer
  • Mudlogger
  • Wellsite geologist
  • Drilling engineer
  • Energy engineer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Minerals surveyor
  • Quarry manager
  • Sustainability consultant

Further study

After completing a course in Geophysics you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as Earth Sciences, Hydrogeology, Nuclear Decommissioning, Petroleum Engineering, Petroleum Geophysics or Waste Management.


What is the difference between Geophysics and Geology?

Geologists focus on the materials that make up the surface of the Earth and their evolution. Geophysicists study the physical processes of the Earth, such as its internal composition and the planet’s atmosphere.

What is the importance of Geophysics?

Geophysics plays a vital role in meeting the needs of society, such as mitigating natural disasters, protecting the environment, and determining where to find mineral resources.

Geophysics is essential for exploring energy, water, and mineral resources, monitoring environmental impact and change, and assessing natural and manmade hazards.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Geophysics?

· Interpretation skills with keen observation, data collection, and analysis are needed. You should be able to develop processes and present the data in the best way possible.

· Critical thinking skills are highly essential through the use of reasoning and logic for identifying alternating solutions and approaches to the present problems.

· You should be capable of efficiently handling numerical, graphical, textual, and oral data. For this, strong verbal and written communication skills are of prime importance.

· Problem-solving skills are an important quality that Geophysics aspirants must-have. You should be detail-oriented, work in an organized manner, and should be systematic in your approach to research work and sample evaluation.

· You will also typically need to be physically sound with enough stamina to be capable of carrying out fieldwork when necessary.

Where can I study Geophysics?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) performed some of the first known geophysical investigations and published his findings in a work entitled Meteorologica. That work addressed such modern topics as weather, earthquakes, the oceans, tides, the stars, and meteors.

· By the first century B.C., Chinese investigators had developed a simple device for recording earthquakes and their points of origin.

· The first magnetic compasses were made in the fourth century BC and the first seismoscope was built in 132 BC.

· There are 18 volcanoes in the US with the potential to erupt again, all of them in Alaska, Hawaii, and the West Coast states.

· The Great Lakes, combined, contain more than 20% of the world’s available freshwater not counting underground aquifers or polar ice.


Mariza Halliday

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