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Comparative Look at Physical Sciences: Geology vs. Environmental Science vs. Astronomy


Did the news of the Chandrayaan and Mars rover excite you? Are you excited to watch David Attenborough unravel the mysteries of the natural world around us? Are you an outdoor person who’d love a job that would take you overseas, to the skies and worldwide? A job that presents a plethora of opportunities to discover and explore the world around us? Geology studies the Earth’s physical structure and substance and astronomy studies space, celestial objects, and the physical universe. Environmental science covers a wider area with the study of biodiversity and issues that surround it such as climate change, soil and groundwater contamination, water management, pollution, conservation, and biodiversity among others. All three areas of physical sciences study the physical, chemical, and biological conditions and their effects.

Graduates in any of these fields can work with environment studies organisations, companies, universities, schools, and governments among others. If you have an interest in any one of these fields or interdisciplinary interests, there are many suitable courses to explore. 

Course Duration and Eligibility: Geology vs. Environmental Science vs. Astronomy

If you are pursuing a B.Sc., the course duration for all three branches, that is, Geology, Environmental Science and Astronomy is 3 years, or if you join the Honours programme, it is 4 years. To be eligible for the programme, the student must complete their 12th grade in the Science stream with Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry as core subjects. They must score a minimum aggregate mark of 50% in the 12th board exams. Some colleges may have an entrance exam whose scores will also be considered for admission.

Courses and Curriculum: Geology vs. Environmental Science vs. Astronomy

Geology studies the earth’s physical structure through the different rocks, substances, and processes to find economical ways to use natural resources and gauge natural occurrences such as weather changes, natural disasters, and overall planetary health. The B.Sc. in Geology covers -

  • Geography
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics

Students can select specialisation courses in the final year such as -

  • Palaeontology
  • Mining
  • Petrology
  • Environmental Education among others in the final year of B.Sc

Astronomy is a branch of physics that studies the objects outside Earth’s atmosphere and graduates of the course are astronomers who study how the universe works. You can pursue a B.Sc. in Physics or Astronomy, and opt for subjects such as -

  • Astrobiology
  • Cosmology
  • Evolution of the solar system
  • Stellar astrophysics
  • Oscillation and waves
  • Modern physics
  • Geology of the solar systems

Environment science teaches about sustainability, resource planning, causes of pollution and how to mitigate the harms caused by pollutants. The B.Sc. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary programme that covers subjects such as - 

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Earth and marine sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Data Science
  • Mathematics for research and reporting

Career Opportunities: Geology vs. Environmental Science vs. Astronomy

After B.Sc., the students can choose to do an M.Sc. and PhD to become super-specialists.

Geologists pursue careers such as -

  • Meteorologists - study weather conditions
  • Oceanographers - study the ocean and marine life
  • Geologists - study geographic conditions
  • Seismologists - study earthquakes and similar phenomena
  • Geography teachers - teach Geography

The demand for geology graduates is in the -

  • Petroleum industry
  • Environment protection organisations
  • Museums
  • Research centres
  • Government departments such as the Weather Bureau
  • News Agencies
  • Universities, and schools

Astronomers apply principles of physics and mathematics for research and career opportunities with space probe organisations, universities, and governments.

Environmental scientists play an important role in forming green policies, protecting natural habitats, creating environment-friendly solutions and practices, and studying the environmental impact of activities. They have careers as -

  • Environment activists - work with NGOs for environmental protection
  • Researchers - various issues related to the environment
  • Policy-makers - work with governments and international environment protection organisations
  • Environment consultants - work with companies and organisations for best practices.
  • Teachers - teach the subject of environmental science

They work with businesses, environmental organisations, government, universities, schools and eco-friendly businesses.

Whether you are a researcher, consultant, government policy-maker, or teacher, an interdisciplinary background helps in viewing the bigger picture. Research teams often comprise specialists who are undisputed leaders in their fields and their recommendation is important. One also has the option to combine their background in the Sciences with a management or administrative studies background. This could lead to a career in -

  • Social Entrepreneur - build eco-friendly products and business consulting services
  • CSR management - part of corporate social responsibility
  • Government administration - work as an IAS or similar position officer with Forest, animal husbandry, agriculture, and education departments

Many businesspersons are scientists who are creating sustainable solutions and products for utilising natural resources for green alternatives. When deciding which science subject to pursue, make plans for two years to understand where your inclinations lie and the industry you want to join. With all three branches, you have the opportunity to make a positive contribution towards conservation and protection. You can make a positive impact by helping the world find actionable solutions and practices to utilise our limited resources smartly and preserve what we have.