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Earth Science: An Introduction (Course 2) (Online)

Course Times & Enrolment

Thursdays from 21st January 2021 (Code SN128-201) Thursdays from
21st January 2021 10:30am - 12:30pm • (10 classes)
Online • Tutor: Fiona McGibbon BSc PGCert
This course is now closed for enrolments

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

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidently use videoconferencing software and 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. 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)

Course delivered online.

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., 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

Natural History Museum’s online exhibitions

Scottish geology portal


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.