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Map and Thesis


  • Fieldwork coordinator: Steve Hirons
  • Credits: 30
  • Assessment: the map and thesis is assessed by the examiners, supplemented by an oral examination by the two external examiners

Module description

To give students experience of independent work on the geological mapping of an area and the preparation of a geological report. Students are expected to spend a total of six weeks preparing a geological map of an area. The area will be chosen in consultation with a supervisor and the size of the area will depend on various factors such as topography and geological complexity. In the final year a thesis (maximum length 8000 words) on the geology of the area is prepared. Most of the work is done independently, but students may be visited in the field by their supervisor who will also give advice on cartographic techniques, content of thesis, etc. Two copies of 1:10 000 maps of the area will be supplied by the School. Each student will be allocated a supervisor who will be responsible for advice on all aspects of the course.

Learning objectives

Cognitive skills

The student will gain knowledge and understanding of the geology of the area they have studied, including the processes which have formed the rocks and the geological history. The student will develop knowledge and understanding of the three-dimensional relationships between geological units in the field and the chronological and spatial sequence of geological events that have occurred. The student will gain knowledge of the petrology and structures of the rocks in order to develop an understanding of the processes that have formed them.

Subject-specific practical/professional skills

The student will learn how to: 

  1. use geological equipment, to measure aspects of the geology, take structural measurements and navigate on a topographic map; 
  2. use and understand topographic maps; 
  3. keep a notebook of his/her method and findings; 
  4. produce a field map of their findings; 
  5. construct geological cross-sections; 
  6. produce a final map using pertinent drafting skills; 
  7. write a scientific report detailing methods and findings.

General/transferable skills

The student will learn how to plan and execute an independent research project and produce a report detailing his/her study methods and results including a discussion of the implications of their findings and final conclusions. Although students are expected to work in pairs in the field, the scientific investigations should be carried out independently; students will therefore learn the how to motivate themselves during independent study and work with a partner in the field.

Supplementary information


Students will be allocated an area and a supervisor normally early in the second year and should begin mapping in the summer vacation, making their own arrangements while agreeing dates with their supervisor.

Recommended reading

Students are expected to be familiar with the literature relating to the geology of their area.

A handbook outlining the nature of the module is available from the department and must be read and acted upon.