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Unit information: Geology 1 in 2015/16

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Unit name Geology 1
Unit code EASC10001
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Parkinson
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This is a broad introduction to Geology and covers the following topics: the structure of the Earth and global tectonics, mineralogy, igneous petrology, sedimentology, metamorphism, structural geology, palaeontology, Earth history and geological maps.

The course presents an overview of our Planet, showing how processes of the surface and interior have shaped its evolution and given rise to the present Earth structure, materials, life forms and global tectonics. We emphasise the inter-disciplinary bio-, chemico- and physico-principles that underlie many of the Earth systems examined.

The practicals are designed to give a hands-on experience in examining a variety of common Earth materials (minerals, rocks and fossils) and to collecting data of various forms (e.g. grain size, textures, geometrical disposition of rocks etc, morphology) on these materials. The work provides an introduction to the use of the polarising microscope for the investigation of minerals and rocks in thin section and the understanding of geological maps so that the 3-D disposition of rocks can be understood. Use is made of the data collected to make interpretations about the origin of minerals and rocks and the Earth settings in which they might have formed, or the type, ecology and stratigraphic range of fossils. The laboratory-learnt skills will be applied in formal classes and self-led tasks. Day-long, local field trips will help students synthesise these skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Identify, measure and precisely document Earth materials and structures using appropriate terminologies, classifications, nomenclatures and measurement techniques;
  • Describe the structure, composition and properties of the constituent parts of the solid Earth, and explain the physico-chemical controls on their genesis and their influence on the near-surface to surface environment;
  • Describe the evolution of the Earth in terms of its chemical variation, thermal development, chronological and stratigraphic history recording the major events in Earth history;
  • Describe the development of life and explain its role as an integrated part of Earth processes;
  • Explain the movement of materials and energy within the solid Earth as visualised in the plate tectonic paradigm, and describe the resultant petrological, geophysical and tectonic expressions of this movement;
  • Explain the interaction between physical, chemical, biological and dynamic earth processes on varying spatial and temporal scales.

Teaching Information

This Unit comprises a series of 72 lectures, 24 practicals and fieldwork, together with associated tutorials.

Assessment Information

20% from a January progress exam (1 hour), 80% from the summer exam (3 hours). Note that the summer exam will include material covered in the whole year including questions on material covered in practicals and local fieldwork as well as lectures.

Reading and References


  • Benton, M.J. & Harper, D.A.T. An Introduction to Palaeobiology and the Fossil Record. WileyBlackwell, 2009
  • Henderson, P. and Henderson, G.M. The Cambridge Handbook of Earth Science Data. Cambridge; University Press, 2009
  • Marshak, S. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. (2nd ed.) W. W. Norton & Co, 2005.
  • Nichols, G. Sedimentology and stratigraphy. (2nd ed.) Blackwell, 2009
  • Press, F., Siever, R., Jordan, T & Grotzinger, J. Understanding Earth 5th ed.). Freeman, 2007
  • Woodcock NH and Strachan RA. Geological History of Britain and Ireland. Wiley, 2000

Background reading

  • Barnes, J.W. & Lisle, R.W. Basic geological mapping (4th ed.). Wiley, 2003. (for mapping classes)
  • Fortey, R. A. The Hidden Landscape: a journal into the geological past (2nd ed.). The Bodley Head, 2010.
  • Park, R.G. Foundations of structural geology (3rd ed) Nelson Thornes, 1997.
  • Stanley, S. M. Earth System History, 3rd Ed. W.H.Freeman, 2009.
  • Tucker, M.E. Sedimentary petrology: an introduction to the origin of sedimentary rocks. (3rd ed.). Blackwell, 2001.
  • Van Andel, T.H. New views on an old planet: a history of global change (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press, 1994.