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Unit information: Global Geophysics in 2021/22

Unit name Global Geophysics
Unit code EASC30064
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Tim Elliott
Open unit status Not open


School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The Earth is a dynamic system that is driven by heat escaping from the planet. The objective of this unit is to learn how the process works and its relationship to the Earth's physical and chemical structure.

The course will address the initial development of the Earth and its evolution to the present mode of heat transport: convection in the mantle and core. This convection drives phenomena such as the geomagnetic field and plate tectonics. The structure and motion of the plates will be analysed and put into a regional context through exploration of various key tectonic settings.

The unit will consider how tectonic setting influences the constitution of metamorphic and igneous rocks, and this topic will be explored through the concepts of chemical equilibrium, the phase rule, and crystallization from liquids. Through this framework, students will be introduced to some of the fundamental discussion and debates in tectonic and geodynamic research today.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, you will be able to:

  • understand the structure and properties of tectonic plates
  • explain the principles of isostasy and flexure and apply them to a variety of tectonic settings
  • use Matlab to produce simple numerical models and compare them to real data (e.g. seafloor bathymetry)
  • explain the relationships among various tectonic settings and the characteristics of the associated rocks
  • apply qualitative and quantitative approaches to explain the compositional variety of igneous rock suites
  • use geochemical observations to deduce information about mantle structure and dynamics
  • evaluate the importance of various energy sources in driving Earth’s planetary evolution
  • apply physical principles and solve simple differential equations to estimate temperature, pressure and density profiles in terrestrial planets
  • describe geophysical and other evidence supporting the current understanding of Earth’s interior structure and processes including convection, geomagnetism, heat flow and phase changes
  • research a related topic and give a short oral presentation based on your research

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory

Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete laboratory work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

End-of-unit examination (100%) 3 hours


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASC30064).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.