Geology and Geophysics

Geology and Geophysics graduates understand the science of the earth, from climate change and natural disasters to the impacts of economic development.

Geology and Geophysics students combine analytical and abstract reasoning and conceptual and critical thinking with scientific methodology and technology to explore the science and structure of the earth. Geology students explore the earth’s history, resources and processes. They also examine related natural hazards and the sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources. Geophysics students combine aspects of Geology with a particular physics and mathematical approach to understand large physical phenomena including weather and land movements such as glaciers, earthquakes and volcanoes. Other scientific subjects that can complement Geology and Geophysics include Statistics, Marine Science, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Data Science.

Roles and career pathways

Geology and Geophysics graduates may work as practising geologists and geophysicists for crown research entities, government departments, universities and private companies involved in environmental, mining, oil, energy and infrastructure projects. They may start in research assistant or associate roles before progressing to more senior roles. Graduates may also work in related roles such technical advisers, science policy analysts, data scientists, environmental management consultants, land advisers, geotechnical engineers or project advisers. Those who complete specialist courses in Geographic Information Systems Science may work as GIS technicians or analysts.

Postgraduate study, such as a Master's degree in Geology or Geophysics is recommended for many science-related, research and policy roles where in-depth analysis is important. A PhD is often required for senior, specialised roles. Geophysicists may specialise in their careers as oceanographers, seismologists and volcanologists, though opportunities in these areas are limited in New Zealand.

Geophysics graduates with strong skills in Maths and Physics can apply for the Meteorologist training programme at MetService NZ. This includes an internship component and completing a sponsored Master of Meteorology.

Geology graduates who combine their studies with Geography, Environmental Studies, Ecology or Anthropology may work as sustainability advisers, resilience advisers, community development officers, procurement advisers, policy advisers, project monitoring and evaluation advisers, research analysts and programme coordinators.

Students who study Geology or Geophysics with a second teachable subject, and complete a secondary school teaching qualification, can work as secondary school Science teachers. It is recommended students should include some Biology or Chemistry courses as part of their degree as well if they intend to teach Science. See Teaching and check with the Wellington Faculty of Education for entry requirements.

Where Geology and Geophysics graduates work

Geology and Geophysics graduates work across the private and public sectors with a focus on earth sciences. Recent graduates have worked in organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experiences

Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. Crown Research Institutes may recruit summer interns depending on funding and Victoria University of Wellington offers a number of Summer Research Scholarships where students assist a Lecturer with a research project. Both are great ways to gain relevant skills and experience. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience. Wellington Plus participants in particular can get involved with sustainability or environmentally focused volunteering through the university or community. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop practical work place experience in local organisations.

Make career connections

Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career and networking opportunities. Victoria University of Wellington Geology Society is a student-run club where Geology students can connect and learn about different networking and career opportunities. The School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences seminar series offers opportunities to learn and connect with staff and students. There are also opportunities to network, learn and get involved with postgraduate research with the three research centres based within the School: The Institute of Geophysics, Antarctic Research Centre (ARC) and the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (CCRI).

Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Wellington Young Professionals offer various events and opportunities for networking. The Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.

Graduate career stories

Clarrie Macklin standing by Haupapa Tasman Glacier

Clarrie Macklin

Studying Geophysics equipped Clarrie with the understanding of earth sciences, maths and physics and the ability to communicate complex and diverse ideas.