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Geophysics: the physics of Earth and planets

 The UBC calendar page for the Geophysics specialization has formal degree specialization details.


Do quantitative, computational and physical sciences appeal to you? Are you keen to apply math, physics and computing skills to scientific and societal problems involving Earth’s systems, processes and properties?

The scope of “geophysics” encompasses any application of physics, mathematics and computing to understand the structure, dynamic behaviour and materials of Earth and its environment, or the planets. At UBC, students select most of their science electives from Geophysics, Geology, Astronomy, Oceanography, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry courses.

The scope of geophysical sciences can be explored via Wikipedia’s Geophysics Portal, Outline or Feature pages.

Opportunities open to geophysics graduates are summarized on our Career Pathways page.

Degrees Offered

The department offers a Major and Honours degree in Geophysics and a Combined Honours degree in Geophysics and another subject. If you have maintained 68% GPA and have not failed a course you may enroll in honours. Normally this happens before the beginning of the third year. See formal details via links here:

Guidelines for current students

Faculty and Teaching

Over 10 of our professors have research interests spanning nearly all geophysical subfields. We have strong connections with resource industries, planetary and space agencies, hazard mitigation organizations and others. Teaching and research about the following subdisciplines are conducted in our department:

  • earthquake seismology and earthquake phenomena
  • lithospheric geophysics, subduction zones and tectonics
  • glacier and ice sheet physics, dynamics, hydrology, mathematical modelling and field instrumentation
  • geophysical imaging, computational geoscience and machine learning
  • inversion and interpretation of magnetic, gravity, electrical and electromagentic field measurements
  • physical volcanology, geodynamics, planetary science, Earth systems science, geological fluid mechanics
  • planetary interiors, planetary magnetism, space physics

Our department is also a leader at reshaping undergraduate science education in UBC. Most courses have been restructured with progressive, student-focused pedagogical practices that ensure you get the most out of your education.

Student Experiences

Students gain quantitative, computing and scientific skills and perspectives in the context of geophysical topics that are applicable in wide range of occupations or studies. Students will benefit particularly from our …

  • Interdisciplinary courses, faculty, and research
  • A balance of industry, public sector and academic perspectives
  • Attention to students, including small classes and a vibrant student community
  • Strong relationships with geoscience, resource sector, and government organizations
  • A departmental commitment to ongoing support of course-development


Courses involve hands-on labs, equipment and computing facilities related to geology, geochemistry and isotope studies, field studies and many more. Examples of the many facilities at EOAS include:

  • A new, modern field station in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley for housing researchers and students and supporting their studies and research
  • Significant cloud computing and parallel computing facilities for research and student project work
  • Several active student clubs with dedicated space for undergraduates
  • The Pacific Museum of Earth with a large collection of minerals, fossils and rocks
  • Extensive computing capacity for numerical modeling and inversion work.