The University of Bristol's Department of Earth Sciences is situated at the historic heart of the campus, in the neo-Gothic Wills Memorial Building, which has been refurbished with new research and teaching laboratories, lecture rooms and a workshop.
The Department can trace its origins back to 1876, when Geology was offered as a subject at the original University College. When the University received its charter in 1909, Geology was taught within the Department of Zoology and Geology. It achieved separate status in 1910, under its redoubtable head then, Professor S. H. Reynolds. Its latest evolutionary step happened in 1992 when its name was changed to the Department of Earth Sciences, to reflect the fact that we had broadened our research and teaching activities to encompass environmental geosciences and Earth system science.
The Department encompasses six research groups covering the spread of Earth sciences topics, and it teaches 12 undergraduate degree programmes, four of them jointly with the Departments of Biological Sciences and Archaeology respectively. We also offer three MSc programmes, in Earth System Science, Palaeobiology, and the Science of Natural Hazards, as well as an extensive PhD programme.
Currently, we hold some £12M in funding from NERC, in the form of grants, research fellowships, and studentships, as well as £4.5M from the EU and other sources. This funding pays for research personnel, equipment maintenance and renewal, as well as field and laboratory running costs. Each year, members of the Department publish some 100 papers in the international scientific literature. Further, staff also publish four or five books each year, both textbooks and professional and conference volumes.
In recognition of the revolutionary changes which have occurred in Geology in recent years, the Department has expanded by making many of its appointments in relatively new areas such as environmental geochemistry, mineral physics, isotope geochemistry, geological fluid mechanics, seismology and computing.