The University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences 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.
After nearly a century of very modest growth, the department moved to its current location in the neo-Gothic Wills Memorial Building in 1985. Since the 1987 Oxburgh Review of Earth Sciences, the department has seen dramatic growth, investment and improvements in infrastructure, personnel, research output and rankings. In 1992 the school’s name was broadened to Earth Sciences, to reflects the breadth of our research and teaching activities. Further expansion occurred in 2003 when state-of-the-art laboratories and teaching space were added to the Inner Court building. Bristol has been ranked in the top four UK Earth Science departments since 2001. The number of academic core staff members has risen from 13 in 1995 to 35 in 2017.