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Earth Science: An Introduction (Course 2)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

What do fossils, rocks, faults and folds tell us about the Earth in the past? This follow-on course continues to provide a gentle introduction to Earth science and looks at geological time and Earth’s history and future.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Introduction and recap of course 1.

2. Stratigraphy and geological time (with some practical work).

3. Fossils and the study of past life (with some practical work).

4. History of life and extinction.

5. Maps and structures (with some practical map work).

6-8. Scotland’s geology.

9. History of geology – from big thoughts to gadgets and supercomputers (with an emphasis on Scotland’s contribution)

10. Earth system science + The Earth after us - what will be mankind’s fossil record?

Teaching method(s)

Each class will combine PowerPoint presentations with some practical work such as map work or examination of geological specimens.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Interpret the order of geological events;

  • Understand absolute dating and what it actually dates;

  • Understand fossil preservation and the use of fossils in biostratigraphy;

  • Separate the major chapters of Scotland’s geological history;

  • Appreciate Scotland’s contribution to the development of geology.


Core Readings


  • Rothery, D.A. (2017) Geology: A complete introduction: Teach Yourself. London, Hodder Education. (Or any earlier edition.)


  • Gillen, C. (2013) Geology and landscapes of Scotland.  Edinburgh, Dunedin (or earlier edition by Terra).
  •  McKirdy, A., Gordon, J., Crofts, R. (2017) Land of Mountain and Flood: the Geology and Landforms of Scotland, Edinburgh, Birlinn.
  • Allaby, M. (2013)  A dictionary of  Geology and Earth Science. Oxford, Oxford Paperback.

Web Sources

Open University Open Learn hub – search for virtual microscope etc.

British Geological Survey  ~

Global Volcanism Programme – volcanic activity reports ~

US geological survey education pages and earthquake reports ~

Geological Society of London (UK’s national geol. society) ~

Edinburgh Geological Society ~

Natural History Museum’s online exhibitions and digitised collections ~

Scottish geology portal ~

Class Handouts

Regular handouts for use during classes will be provided. These will define terms and provide background information and short exercises to support classroom activities.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.