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Earth Science: An Introduction (Course 1) (Online)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Geology is a broad subject covering the spectrum of scale, from the whole planet down to a grain of sand and even into the atomic in the ages of rocks and minerals. This course takes us from Earth’s cosmic neighbourhood to the planet’s interior and back up on to its surface via plate tectonics, volcanism, metamorphism and sedimentary processes to develop an understanding of how the Earth works.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidentially use videoconferencing software be comfortable with using websites.

Special Information

In order to participate in this course, you will need access to a computer with a speaker and an internet connection.

Content of Course

1. The Earth’s cosmic neighbourhood - introduction to the universe, solar system, Earth and meteorites.

2. Journey to the centre of the Earth - internal structure and physical properties.

3. Building blocks - rocks and minerals (with some practical work).

4. Plate Tectonics I - development of theory.

5. Plate Tectonics II - essentials of the modern theory (group map exercise).

6. From rock to magma - why the Earth melts - active volcanism.

7. From magma back to rock - igneous processes (with some practical work).

8. Metamorphism - from contact metamorphism to orogeny (with some practical work).

9. Surface processes - an introduction to sedimentary rocks (with some practical work).

10. Sedimentary depositional environments (with some group work).

Teaching method(s)

This course will be delivered online.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Understand Earth’s relationship to other planets and the universe;

  • Describe the basic structure of the Earth and understand the evidence for it;

  • Distinguish igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks;

  • Understand plate tectonics and plate driving forces;

  • Understand the internal and surface processes of the Earth.


Core Readings


  • Rothery, D.A., 2008. Geology: Teach Yourself. London: Hodder Education.


  • Gillen,C., 2003. Geology and landscapes of Scotland. UK: Terra Publishing.

  • Allaby, M., 2008. A dictionary of Earth Science. Oxford: Oxford Paperback.

Web Sources

Online, interactive geology from the University of Tromso

British geological survey education pages

US geological survey education pages

Geological society of London

Interactive plate tectonic map


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.