Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • GEOL1021 Earth Materials.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to quantitative geochemical and petrological methods in order to understand the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • To enable students to identify and interpret the geological significance of a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and their chemistries, in the context of geological evolution on local, regional and global scales.


  • Thermodynamics applied to geochemistry and petrology.
  • Principles of elemental geochemistry.
  • Principles of radiogenic and stable isotope geochemistry.
  • Igneous petrology.
  • Metamorphic petrology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in the application of thermodynamics to petrology.
  • To be able to apply the principles of geochemistry to quantitative problem solving.
  • To understand the uses of elemental and isotope chemistry in Earth Sciences.
  • To be able to interpret a diverse collection of textural, mineralogical, and petrological data, including thermodynamics, to deduce genetic histories of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in geological principles, terms, definitions and classifications.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in the application of geochemical tools to the understanding of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in how to identify igneous and metamorphic minerals.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in order to apply geochemical and petrological principles and methodologies, including synthesis of diverse datasets, to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
Key Skills:
  • Prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages.
  • Solve numerical problems using computer or non-computer techniques.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered through a mix of one-hour lectures and two-hour practical slots, supported by handouts, directed reading and web and computer-based assignments.
  • The practicals form an important component of the module allowing "hands on" learning and experience.
  • Summative assessment is made up of practical exercises.
  • An unseen written examination will provide a test of the students understanding of supporting theory.
  • Formative assessment is provided by petrography, thermodynamic calculations and other spreadsheet based numerical tests.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills are provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Practicals 20 Weekly 2 Hours 40
Preparation and Reading 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour unseen written examination 100%
Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical assessment 1 50%
Practical assessment 2 50%

Formative Assessment:

Mineral and rock ID tests and data evaluation tests.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University