Faculty of Arts & Science
A place to learn, discover, think and do.
Geology Science at Queen's University


Miller Hall
Room number: 
Bruce Wing, Room 240
Department Head: 

The Miller Museum of Geology: Curator, Mark Badham
Undergraduate Coordinator: Ron Peterson
Graduate Coordinator: Noel James

Discovery, development and sustainability of water, mineral and energy resources as well as coping with climate change, human impact and natural hazards facing increasing global populations, all depend on a deep understanding of natural processes.

Our students study the Earth in this context, with high-demand careers in diverse fields such as mineral and oil exploration, mining and hydrocarbon extraction, surface and underground construction, environmental assessment, protection and rehabilitation, groundwater investigation and resource management.

As a Geological Science student, you will learn in a variety of ways. Many courses involve laboratory and field work in a small group setting. Second and upper year courses include several extended field trips to Quebec, Sudbury and Bermuda.

Degree Options

Bachelor of Science (Honours) - BScH

Specialization in Geology or Environmental Geology
An intensive course of study with approximately two-thirds of your courses within the discipline.

Major in Geology
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Minor in Geology
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

Bachelor of Science - BSc or Bachelor of Arts - BA

General in Geology
A less intense course of study leading to a 3-year degree.

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Geology - PhD
Geology - MSc

Courses Available to First-Year Students 2015-16

GEOL104: The Dynamic Earth (Fall term and Winter term)

Introduction to the internal structure of the Earth and the processes that have shaped its surface. Global tectonics and continental movement, rock genesis, mountain building, glaciations and geological time. Laboratories include rock and mineral identification, and problem solving in historical geology, earthquakes, groundwater flow and coastal erosion.

GEOL107: History of Life (Fall term)

The history of life, from its inception four billion years ago to the present day, focusing on the inter-relationship between organic evolution and global change. Coevolution of early life and the atmosphere; development of marine animals and their ecosystems; invasion of the land; dinosaurs and their world; mass extinctions; the Age of Mammals; and hominid evolution. Lectures plus three three-hour laboratories.

The Following courses are used primarily as electives and do not lead to honours degree plans:

Gemstones: Their Art, History and Science (Fall term)
Gemstones have played an important role in society throughout history. The role of gemstones and other precious materials will be illustrated through the study of works of art and popular literature. The physical properties that make gems attractive are explained. Gemstone marketing and ethical considerations of mining methods will be explored.

GEOL106: Environmental Geology and Natural Hazards (Fall term & Winter term)
The relationship between human-kind and our ever-changing planet, with a focus on natural geologic hazards (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, mass movement, floods, extraterrestrial impacts, etc.), and environmental impacts which result from population and land-use expansion and our increased use of water, energy and mineral resources. A study of the sources and impact of pollution and global climate change. Public perception of and response to geological risk.

Field School in Geology

As part of a rigorous curriculum, the Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering believes that direct exposure to rocks in the field is essential if students are to bridge the gap between lecture-hall theory and real-world practice. The field program begins with trips in first-year and continues with an intense field-based lab course in the fall term of second-year. This course is designed to familiarize students with basic geological field methods and prepare them for the Geological Field School held at the end of the second year, in folded metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks near Sutton, Quebec. 

Third- and fourth-year courses include numerous field trips in the Kingston area, Quebec, and adjacent parts of the United States. In addition to the many day trips, several week long field schools are available to 3rd and 4th year students in the program, including 3rd year sedimentary geology field trips to the US;  a 4th year structures/sedimentary trip to Quebec; and a 4th year GeoEng trip to Timmins, Sudbury. In addition a one-week carbonates field trip travels to Bermuda each year.

Job and Career Opportunities for Geology Grads

Our science graduates study the Earth, with careers in diverse fields including, but not limited to, research, mineral and oil exploration, mining and hydrocarbon extraction, policy analysis, surface and underground construction, environment assessment, protection and rehabilitation, as well as all facets of resource management. The programs offered by this department focus on the whole planet and global processes as a dynamic and integrated system.

Some of our Geology grads work in the following fields:

  • Agricultural Sciences & Research
  • Architecture
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Construction
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Conservation & Management
  • Forestry
  • Geomatics
  • Geophysics
  • International Development
  • Landscape
  • Architecture
  • Law
  • Meteorology
  • Mineral Industry
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Oceanography
  • Paleontology
  • Petroleum and Gas Industry
  • Photography
  • Public Service
  • Renewable Energy
  • Surveying and Cartography
  • Toxicology
  • Waste management
  • Water conservation

Career paths for Geology grads handout from Career Services >

Geology Electives Open to Non-Geology Students

GEOL 102/3.0 Gemstones:  Their Art, History and Science
GEOL 102/3.0 is a course suitable for any Arts or Science student.  This course covers a wide variety of subjects that include the poetry of the Yukon gold rush, the marketing of diamonds and why ivory jewelry endangers the elephants in Africa.  Other topics include how pearls are cultured and what gems are thought to be cursed and why.  No science or mathematics background is required.

GEOL 104/3.0 The Dynamic Earth
GEOL 104/3.0 introduces you to the study of Geology at the University level.  It may be taken by all students, regardless of their high school background, though some experience in science and mathematics courses at the Grade 11 and Grade 12 level would be recommended. GEOL 104/3.0 focuses on the Earth’s internal structure and those processes which have shaped the Earth’s surface.  This course should be taken by all students who wish to pursue a Plan in Geology or in Environmental Science.  While Environmental Studies students must take at least one of the first year Geology courses listed here, it is recommended that they pursue this course, as it allows the greatest flexibility in course selection at upper-years.  This course is also a good elective choice for any Arts or Science student.

GEOL 106/3.0 Environmental Geology and Natural Hazards
GEOL 106/3.0 discusses environmental geology and natural hazards including volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides.  While Environmental Studies students may take this course, if you choose to pursue only one Geology course in first year, GEOL 104/3.0 would be a better choice as it allows greater flexibility in course selection at upper-year. 

GEOL 107/3.0 History of Life
GEOL 107/3.0 recounts the history of live on Earth, from its origins to the present day.  It may be taken by all students, regardless of their high school background, though some experience in science and mathematics courses at the Grade 11 and Grade 12 level would be recommended.  This course should be taken by all students who wish to pursue a Plan in Geology or Environmental Geology.  It would also be a good choice (in addition to GEOL 104/3.0) for students in other Environmental Science disciplines.  Environmental Studies students may also consider this course as an alternative to GEOL 104/3.0, bearing in mind that it offers less flexibility in course choices in upper years.  This course is also a good elective choice for any Arts or Science student.

Graduate Studies in Geology

Continue your research at one of North America's premier Earth Science Departments.  Queen's is one of Canada's oldest and highest-ranked universities where you can work with world-renowned scientists and engineers.  Our graduate programs offer extensive fieldwork programs on six continents, generous student stipends, world class research facilities, and in many cases, industry collaboration.

“What has struck me most about my time as a graduate student in Geology is the quality of the academic environment. The faculty and staff here really want you to succeed and are prepared to drop everything to help you do it. The labs I work in are second-to-none and my supervisor is always eager to discuss my research with me and provide guidance and support when I need it. I’ve also had opportunities to take my work into the field; I’ve visited tunnels all across Europe to help get an understanding of what role my research can play in industry. On top of all that, the other students in my research group are some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. Having these resources and opportunities at my fingertips has made my experience at Queen’s that much more interesting and exciting.”  Connor Langford, Ph.D. candidate Geological Science @ Queen's.

Basic Funding Package includes Teaching Assistantships.

  • M.Sc. Students: $21,000 minimum
    Ph.D. Students: $23,000 minimum

Additional funding is also available through external awards (NSERC, OGS, industry and private scholarships), internal awards (QGA and departmental scholarships), departmental teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Queen’s automatically issues a $5,000 (Masters) or $7,500 (PhD) top-up award to federal government Tri-Council Award winners. All new international Doctoral students, admitted to full time study, are eligible to receive an International Tuition Award (ITA), to be held during all funding eligible years and is applied as a tuition credit.

Kelly McCaugherty
Graduate Assistant
Phone: (613) 533-2597
E-mail: geolgradassistant@queensu.ca
Website: http://queensu.ca/geol/graduate


Earth and Energy Resources Leadership, Masters (Professional)

The unique curriculum design places the progression of the resource life cycle, with its fundamental earth science and engineering aspects, as the center of the program.  This life cycle moves from resource exploration, through  development, production and use, to stages of remediation, recycling and disposal, and on to a final stage of closure and maintenance.  Each phase of this life cycle will be evaluated successively through one of four lenses, or perspectives.  These are: the economic and business lens, the operating framework of legal, policy, regulatory, and ethical lens, the strategic leadership and management lens (including decision-making, and risk analysis), and the stakeholder engagement, partnership development, and communication lens.

The curriculum comprises seven core courses focused on the resource life cycle and each of these lenses, along with a seminar-based course focused on state-of-the-art technology and innovation.  Students may then select electives that permit more detailed work in either energy, or minerals, or both, along with a field-based synthesis course and the opportunity to do a sector-focused project, potentially derived from their workplace.  This approach will provide the student with the most rigorous training for leadership competencies in analyzing options and risk, understanding interconnections in both natural and commercial systems, and optimizing trade-offs when developing natural resources.

Leaders and experts from the energy and minerals/mining sectors will serve as guest lecturers, advisors/mentors for student and team projects, and Adjunct Faculty to bring real-life case examples to the students for dissection, discussion, analysis and decision recommendations.  Students will receive feedback on their recommendations and presentations which are to be delivered in a business format.  This engagements with industry practitioners will be done by a pioneering combination of both in person (face-to-face) and online interaction.

The Master of Earth and Energy Resources Leadership is delivered in a technology-enriched online/residential instructional format.  Full lectures (audio and video) plus other course materials are available on-demand, and faculty and students routinely communicate via contemporary electronic media.  Live sessions are periodically conducted via web conferencing, allowing faculty, guest speakers, and students to communicate directly.  Students receive the same instruction and complete the same kinds of assignments as they would in a traditional graduate classroom setting using communication facilities and technologies.

Students also participate in three executive-style week seminars conducted over the course of the program on Queen’s University campus or at other centers of energy and mineral activity.

Students enter the program in September.  Typical enrollment is two courses per term (fall, winter, summer) year-round, with completion in 20 months.

Degrees Offered

MEERL  – 20 months, 20% residential and 80% online, can be completed while students remain employed.

Method of Completion

There are 7 core courses and 4 elective courses (need to choose 3 electives only)


Marilyn Redmond
Program Coordinator
Queen's Master of Earth and Energy Resources Leadership
Miller Hall-Bruce Wing, Office 341

Research in Geology at Queen's

With high-tech geochemistry and geophysics labs, geomechanics computing tools, and Queen’s Facility for Isotope Research lab to work in, our students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge geoscience and geoengineering research. As well, students are able to work in first-rate facilities with world-renowned scientists and research engineers, and have opportunities to collaborate with industrial leaders and engage in extensive fieldwork on six continents, making our program truly a world-class experience. Students can also collaborate with other departments at Queen’s, including Mining, Environmental Studies, Chemistry and Biology as well as other institutions like RMC.

Areas of Geological Research @ Queen's include:

  • Economic Geology & Mineral Exploration
  • Petrology & Structural Geology
  • Sedimentology, Sedimentary Geochemistry & Paleobiology
  • Geophysics and Geochronology
  • Applied Geoenvironmental Sciences & Geotechnique

Student Story - Kyle Larson, Conducting Research from a Rooftop

Growing up in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Kyle Larson was utterly captivated by the mountains that rose almost literally from his backyard. Little did he know that this childhood passion would one day take him to the rooftop of the world.

Kyle Larson a Geological Scientist from Queen's University Grad SchoolA PhD student in Geological Science, Kyle's research has sent him far from our Kingston campus to the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, where he can study the growth of these immense and awe-inspiring geological formations, up close and personal.

Kyle's research in Tibet focuses on the ongoing growth of the Himalayas - how they continue to form and evolve, every day. These actively growing mountains offer Kyle and his team an excellent natural laboratory, allowing him to investigate geological processes in action unlike anything possible in the classroom.

His research is part of a modern paradigm shift in the understanding of how mountains actually grow, studying the involvement and distribution of viscous molten magma as tectonic plates collide and react with each another. The dynamics of this fiery material is now believed to play a fundamental role in the formation of mountains. Kyle's research is helping to literally rewrite the books on how geologists believe our planet was formed, and how it continues to grow.

Queen's international reputation and the quality of the faculty were the deciding factors in Kyle' s decision to choose Queen's to pursue his graduate studies. "They are always pushing you to excel," he says. With that kind of motivation behind him, there's no limit to the heights Kyle's exploration will take him.

Alumni Profile

Astronaut Dr. Drew Feustel (Ph.D., 1995) proudly took a tri-colour banner on the Hubble Telescope repair mission in 2011. The banner traveled 5.3 million miles and orbited the earth 197 times. As a Queen’s student, he was the recipient of the Thesis Bursary Award, Deans Award, Graduate Award, McLaughlin Fellowship, and the Reinhardt Fellowship. After leaving Queen’s and a small company in Kingston, Drew worked for Exxon Mobil as an Exploration Geophysicist before joining NASA in 2000.

Have Questions?

Call us at 613-533-2470 or email us.

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