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Earth History


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Philip Hopley
  • Assessment: an in-class map-based practical (25%), 1500-word essay (35%) and online quiz (40%)

Module description

In this module you will become familiar with methods used to establish age relations and learn skills required to reconstruct geological history. We will introduce you to some of the main themes of Earth history, particularly those from the geological evolution of the British Isles and adjacent areas.

You will learn about the main periods of geological time and the major events that have punctuated Earth’s history.

Indicative syllabus

  • Principles of stratigraphy: lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, conformity, disconformity and unconformities
  • Precambrian: formation of continents, Precambrian of the British Isles
  • Late Precambrian and Cambrian: the Cambrian 'explosion'
  • Closure of Iapetus Ocean and the Caledonian Orogeny
  • Devonian: 'Old Red Sandstone Continent', post Caledonian basins
  • Carboniferous: basin fill sequence and palaeoenvironments
  • The Hercynian Orogeny: Devonian and Carboniferous of SW England
  • Permian and Triassic: post Hercynian basins
  • Jurassic and Cretaceous: opening of the Atlantic
  • Tertiary: Alpine Orogeny, volcanic province and London/ Hampshire basins
  • Quaternary: glaciations and Earth’s glacial history

Learning objectives

This module will develop your knowledge of:

  • information assimilation and recollection
  • principles of stratigraphy and plate tectonics, and a familiarity with the geological timescale
  • map interpretation; thinking in 3-D.