Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Switching to A Geoscience MSc From An Arts Degree

Switching degrees cover image
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Switching degrees cover image

By Kylie, Msc Environment, Culture and Society


If you’re considering to do a Masters in Geoscience, but come from a different academic or professional background, I got you.

PE Workshop brunch

Out-of-class workshop over brunch


As a BA (Hons) in English Literature graduate, I’d never imagined myself to be pursuing a Masters of Science, much less with the School of Geoscience. Especially since I spent one year working as a marketing executive for a food-tech start-up.

But what compelled me to apply for my MSc in Environment, Culture and Society is my passion to be an advocate for the environment and the interdisciplinary aspect of the course. So, I took a leap of faith and applied, and now I am here!

If you’re thinking of applying to one of University of Edinburgh’s many Geoscience Masters and you’re coming from a completely different background (e.g. an Arts degree), here are 3 things to consider before making the switch:


1. Learning Curve

The jump from your Bachelor’s degree to a Geoscience Masters really depends on the subject of your current major and what you wish to apply to. For me, I knew I wanted to study something related to the environment, but I also did not want to do anything too heavy on science. The Environment, Culture and Society MSc provides a nice balance of modules which comprises of human geography and Humanities. While the style of writing is different from a literary essay, it is still something that I could adapt from my Bachelor’s experience and repurpose in my Geoscience papers.

Pro tip: Don’t toss all your undergrad experience away just yet! Look for ways you can carry forward transferable skills into your Masters degree.

Creating comics

Drawing comics in class


2. Look at the Programme Structure

I can’t stress enough how much the modules will determine your learning experience. Get a sense of how each programme is like by looking at the available modules and programme structure. For me, I knew Environment, Culture and Society was the one I wanted to apply to when I got really exciting reading all the module descriptions. But it’s not only about what interests you, it’s also about knowing what types of modules are within your capability to comprehend. For example, Environmental Geochemistry may sound interesting, but if I know nothing about science and chemistry, I won’t be choosing my Masters course based on this one module.


3. Life After Masters

If you’re like me, this may be the last thing you want to think about—but you have to consider where you want your Masters degree to take you. Personally, after one year in marketing, I knew commercial marketing was not for me. So, knowing that I am passionate about environment and sustainability, my goal is to switch careers to be more involved in environmental work. Thinking about your future career  trajectory doesn’t need to be a grand plan detailing every decision right to a T, but a general idea is a good starting point.

COP with Friends

Marching alongside my course mates during COP26


Bonus Tip!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who are in the same shoes! I know speaking to people who have transitioned into Geoscience or who are already in the environment field helped me feel more confident in making my application. Feel free to hit us up on our socials here, drop us a comment in the comments section below, or read more about our student life here.







If you’d like to find out more about what UoE School of Geosciences offer, check out the useful links below:

School of GeoSciences Website:

Postgraduate Taught Study at The University of Edinburgh:

Open House:  



2 replies to “Switching to A Geoscience MSc From An Arts Degree”

  1. Sheila says:

    Hi, Kylie! Thank you so much for this post. I am an offer holder for MSc Environment, Culture and Society with a background (Bachelor’s degree) in Communication/Media Studies, and reading your blogpost has made me a little less nervous about this switch to an MSc programme (thanks a lot once again!). A question: did you experience any difficulties learning in class when you first start the semester and do you have any tips/suggestions on what to prepare before the semester (really) starts? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Kylie says:

      Hey Sheila, congrats! You’re going to have so much fun. I’m so envious of you right now because I’d repeat the classes in a heartbeat. ECS is quite a social science course so as long as you are able to write essays and think critically, you’ll be okay. I didn’t do much pre-sem preparations apart from watching videos that are about environmental issues (Our Changing Climate on YouTube is really good). If you enjoy podcasts, you can check out this playlist on our spotify which gives you a taster of what Political Ecology (an area we cover) is.

      Have fun!

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.