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Module GLU22905: Dynamic Earth 1: Rocks and Evolution

  Module GLU22905
Co-ordinator: Dr Una Farrell
Course Type:  
Assessment: Theory examination (60%); practical examination (20%); in-course
assessment (20%)
ECTS: 10 Credits

Contact hours & timing:

Michaelmas Term
Lectures/Practicals Four lectures and one three-hour practical per week

Module Learning Aims

(1) to promote the understanding of how material is cycled and recycled within the Earth and how rock types record different aspects of this cycling.  (2) To provide (a) an understanding of form and function in fossil organisms and their links to living floras and faunas (b) an overall appreciation of the evolutionary record of life on Earth.

Module Content

The module initially approaches the solid materials that make up the outer parts of the Earth - the lithosphere - namely rocks and their basic building blocks, minerals.  A pathway is taken through the rock cycle from initial formation from mantle material into igneous rocks, their subsequent breakdown at the Earth’s surface and reconstitution into sedimentary rocks and, finally the alteration of these rocks through burial at elevated temperatures and pressures.  Techniques of describing and reaching first stage interpretations of rocks and minerals in hand sample are covered.

Equipped with an appreciation of the dynamic natures of the solid Earth, the module then introduces the time dimension of life, which has existed on planet Earth for much of its history.  Fossil organisms are the data that record the evolution of life on the planet.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • describe and identify common kinds of rock, and the minerals they contain, in hand sample
  • describe and classify a broad range of organisms found in the fossil record, and explain the concepts of fossilisation, evolutionary sequences and lineages
  • outline the uses of fossils in palaeobiological, palaeogeographic and evolutionary studies, and state the basic principles of taxonomic procedure

Field trip

An additional cost will be charged for attending the field trip. Please contact the module co-ordinator for further information.