First Year Geoscience Programme 2016/17

From September 2016 new developments are being introduced to the first year of the Geoscience degree programmes. The first year of the programme is similar for all the degree programmes and provides a rigorous introduction to the main building blocks of the Earth and other planets (minerals, sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic) rocks and the processes by which they have formed. The history of the earth through its 4.6 billion year history is explained as well as economically important resources that can be found on the Earth (metal ores, minerals, oil, gas, coal, water). These courses provide the underpinning for more detailed investigation in subsequent years. Students have a choice in Year One between an optional module studying climate change or one in which they can learn more about the geology of the other planets and the origin of the solar system. Key skills in mineral and rock identification in hand specimen and in thin section will be introduced as well as interpretation of geological maps and field mapping skills. Chemistry, Physics and numeracy will be considered in the context of geoscience and environmental problems. A new course looking at the chemistry of the earth will be introduced and palaeontology and sedimentology will be delivered as an integrated module representing the close affinity of these two topics.

In the second year (from 2017/18), we will add some optional pathways through the Geology degree, allowing some specialisation in aspects such as surface processes, and environmental geoscience in addition to the current separate degree pathways of Geochemistry, Environmental and Resource Geology and Geology with Planetary Science. The current Geology degree will still be available as the main pathway.

Year One Modules

Planet Earth: The aim is to explain in outline how the Earth system works, so that you will have a
foundation for the other courses you will do in the first year. No pre-knowledge of Earth
Science is assumed, just an interest in the subject.

Mineralogy: This course provides an introduction to some of the fundamental properties of crystals and minerals, and the techniques used for investigating them. These properties explain many of the features you will see in rocks and minerals throughout your degree programme, such as crystal shape, colour and the optical properties that are observed under a microscope.

Palaeontology & Sedimentary Rocks: an introduction to sedimentary rocks and processes by which they form, along with an introduction to the main invertebrate fossil groups, trace fossils and fossil plants. The course considers the stratigraphic importance of fossils including microfossils and a comparison of living organisms with their fossil relatives.

Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology: provides a foundation in igneous and metamorphic petrology to serve as a basis for more detailed courses in the subsequent years.

Igneous petrology provides a basic understanding of the role of magma and igneous rocks in the Earth, with particular reference to the conditions under which magma is generated, the main magma types, the movement and emplacement (or eruption) of magma and its eventual solidification and the rocks produced. Metamorphic Petrology provides an introduction to metamorphic rocks and the processes by which they form as a result of increasing temperature and pressure within the earth’s crust, and associated deformation.

British Stratigraphy/Geological Maps: The lectures in this course seek to provide an overview of the geological evolution of England, Scotland and Wales that can serve as a background reference frame for subsequent years. The practical classes seek to develop a working understanding of methods used to present and interpret data on geological maps.

Earth Resources: An introduction to the nature and origin of the Earths energy, mineral, biospheric and water resources and to environmental issues concerning their exploitation.

Scientific Problem Solving*: This unit is designed to increase your confidence at using the physical sciences and scientific numeracy in an Earth and Environmental Sciences context. It is an opportunity for you to acquire, practise and consolidate the numerical and problem-solving skills that you will need in many other course units in your degree programme

Chemistry of the Earth: this unit introduces geochemistry concepts: the basic chemistry of the earth, and behaviour of chemical elements in a geologic context.

Tutorials: weekly meetings in small groups with a member of the academic staff to consider and discuss aspects of geosciences, including careers and communication skills.

Field Course: one week field course to Devon providing a general introduction to field geology and the skills required for geological mapping and field work.

All students take one option from:
Global Climate Change
Introduction to Planetary Sciences*

*Planetary students will take Maths courses in the School of Maths and take the Introduction to Planetary Science course.

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