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Planetary Geophysics


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: James Hammond
  • Assessment: an online test (50%) and three-hour examination (50%)

Module description

Geophysics is the topic of applying physical principles to imaging the interior of the Earth and other planetary bodies. Using seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic methods we can build up a model of the Earth from the surface to the core. More recently, this has been applied to other planetary bodies in the solar system. In this module, you will learn the underlying physical principles, how data is collected and processed to produce these models. We will use examples from the Earth, Moon, Mars and other planets in the solar system.


  • Introduction to geophysics and seismology
  • Basic seismic refraction and reflection methods
  • Earthquake and global seismology
  • Gravity methods
  • Geomagnetism and magmatic methods
  • Introduction to electrical, electromagnetic and other geophysical methods

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • describe the basic principles of seismology, gravity, magnetic and other geophysical methods
  • describe how principles of geophysics can be applied to enhance our understanding of the Earth
  • apply basic mathematical and physical concepts in the study of geophysics
  • present basic numerical arguments
  • use advanced computational software to plot, analyse and model data
  • think quantitatively
  • discuss the relationship between geophysical data and geological interpretation.