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Unit information: Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences
Unit code EASC10008
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Donoghue
Open unit status Not open



EASC10001 Geology 1

School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit, for which no previous field experience is necessary, comprises a seven-day residential course on the Isle of Arran in which learners will attain and develop the essential techniques of geological fieldwork. The course combines daytime field exercises with indoor sessions of analysis, interpretation and presentation, and is designed to achieve four principal aims, enabling leaners:

  • to observe a variety of rock types and geological structures in outcrop and differentiate their most important characteristics.
  • to acquire and practice basic methods of geological data gathering and recording
  • to apply your own field data to the solution of specific geological problems
  • to evaluate the geological history of a specific area as determined from evidence that you or your colleagues have collected

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit learners will be able to:

  • work safely and efficiently in the field, including in coastal and mountainous areas
  • use a map and compass to locate a rock outcrop precisely
  • observe the principal features of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks in the field using standard equipment (e.g. hand lens, grain size comparator)
  • interpret their observations in terms of the environment and mode of formation of rock bodies and their subsequent history of consolidation, deformation and metamorphism
  • make accurate and reproducible measurements of planar and linear features using a compass-clinometer and interpret structural data using a stereographic projection
  • make field sketches ranging from fast, generalised sketches to more detailed interpretative diagrams
  • construct a sedimentary log and interpret stratigraphy in terms of thickness and time
  • employ fossils to determine ancient environments of sediment deposition
  • record geological data in map form on a variety of scales using standard symbols
  • exchange notes with a colleague, evaluate field notes that describe outcrops you have not seen, and pool data to solve a common problem
  • as part of a small team, design a geological field investigation of their choosing and present the results orally using visual aids.

Teaching Information


Assessment Information

Assessment is based entirely on coursework. Notebooks are collected at intervals during the course of the fieldwork and formative comments are provided. Set exercises are collected daily for summative assessment and returned the next day so that learners can develop their work in response to formative comments. The team exercise is allocated a single mark based on peer marking, moderated by teaching staff; individuals gain additional marks in this exercise by asking sensible questions of the other teams. A small percentage of marks is awarded for professionalism.

Reading and References

A bespoke field guide is provided to all students enrolled on the unit