MSc Subsurface Characterisation and Geomodelling logo banner

MSc Subsurface Characterisation and Geomodelling

For a geoscience career in a changing world


Now accepting applicants for a September 2021 start


Geoscientists with digital skills able to manage and critically evaluate subsurface data are required in a range of applied industries and research areas. This one-year taught MSc course is designed to equip you with the training to understand, model and visualise the subsurface using a range of datasets and to make expert interpretations and predictions. This industry-facing programme is tailored to provide geoscientists with the expertise needed for the transition to a low carbon sustainable society. Graduates will acquire modern skills in applied geoscience that are applicable across a range of sectors, including mineral resources, energy, geothermal, groundwater, carbon sequestration, geotechnical services, national geological surveys and waste management. Training will be provided in the principles and methods of the acquisition, analysis and digital modelling of data from the shallow and deep subsurface. Modules will cover aspects of 3D mapping; stratigraphic prediction; ‘hard rock’ characterization; Quaternary geology; applied structural geology; data processing; geophysical methods; remote sensing; geostatistics; fractured rock characterisation; geofluids; geomechanics and geomodelling. As part of the course you will also receive training in state of the art industry software (e.g., Petrel and Leapfrog, GIS) and develop a range of soft skills (e.g. presenting, reporting and programming) required by industry. The wide range of sought-after transferable skills will provide flexibility in your future career choices in either industry or regulatory and applied research organisations requiring digital subsurface characterisation and modelling.

Based in the School of Earth Sciences on UCD’s modern parkland campus on the south side of Dublin, the course draws on extensive applied geoscience expertise within the school and a dedicated teaching space including workstations and the latest interpretation and modelling software. The programme combines classroom-based instruction, extensive practical workstation experience with industry-standard software, team-based exercises and field visits.

Entry to the programme requires an Honours undergraduate degree at 2.1 or higher (or equivalent) level in Earth Science or Geoscience. Consideration will be given to applicants with similar qualifications in cognate areas (e.g. Geophysics/Physical Geography), and to those with significant and relevant work experience but who do not meet this criterion. Full details of the fees and application process are available on

For more details contact Course Director Prof Peter Haughton at


Vision and values

This programme provides graduates and company staff seeking career advancement with the key knowledge, skills and tools required to be successful geoscientists across the range of industries and applied research organisations working with subsurface data. We value ambition and passion to be expert problem-solvers through the application of sound geological reasoning, models and quantitative techniques. We provide a learning environment that develops students’ ability to solve complex subsurface problems in a creative but pragmatic manner, to present results effectively to management and clients, and to work both individually and in teams as required in a business context. A strong emphasis is placed on learning and assessment through individual and team-based practical exercises in both the classroom and field. Students work with a wide range of industry datasets and workflows, using state-of-the-art techniques and software. The curriculum facilitates direct engagement with industry personnel via tailored short courses, site visits, joint fieldwork and business-style technical presentations.


Programme Learning Outcomes

On completion of the programme students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a broad technical grounding and strong competence in characterising subsurface resources critical to modern society.
  • Appreciate the main subsurface challenges in each industry sector, the controls on resource volumes and how they are constrained, and the value and business drivers that govern activity in various geoscience-based industry sectors.
  • Show an advanced level of 3D and 4D understanding of the subsurface as well as critical reasoning skills developed through a wide range of practical exercises and a broad field-based curriculum.
  • Assess and balance the requirement for resource development against the inevitable environmental impacts.
  • Work with limited data and multiple hypotheses, balancing and assessing the merits and implications of competing models and designing work programmes to limit uncertainty.
  • Manage, QC, analyse and integrate large subsurface geophysical and borehole datasets with an awareness of data limitations and interpretation pitfalls.
  • Work with a range of digital subsurface and georeferenced data across different application areas including geophysical and borehole data and be able to load, visualise, manipulate and interpret these data using industry-standard software.
  • Create deterministic and nondeterministic geological models of the subsurface to help visualise, manage and develop resources and convey concepts to management and the public.
  • Work in mixed ability and multidisciplinary teams and engage in effective dialogue with cognate disciplines (drilling, engineering, environmental, energy).
  • Display a high level of professional and ethical integrity particularly in relation to data confidentiality, intellectual property and social licence to operate.
  • Operate to industry-standard Health and Safety requirements, particularly with regard to field work in remote areas and working on industrial sites.
  • Clearly communicate ideas and results to management, regulatory bodies and to public forums.
  • Develop skills in technical report writing and presentations as required for industry and research positons.
  • Formulate, drive and execute a piece of independent research addressing an applied subsurface geoscience question.
  • Build on an early network of contacts in the geoscience community.


Course Overview

An outline of each module within the course can be found here.