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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Geophysics (EASC08008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryA comprehensive introduction to the physical study of the Earth, concentrating on descriptive and interpretative aspects of both pure and applied geophysics, including discussion of earthquakes and seismology, gravity, geomagnetism, the thermal state of the Earth and plate tectonics.
Course description Syllabus

L1 Introduction to the course and the methodology of science. (Wyn Williams, Monday Jan 17, 2022)

PART 1 (David Stevenson, Wednesday Jan 19, 2022)

L2 Earth's gravity, mass and density.

L3 Variation of gravity with latitude.

L4 Variation of gravity with altitude.

L5 Interpreting gravity anomalies.

L6 Isostasy.

L7 Gravity measurements and applications.

L8 Atmospheric geophysics.

PART 2 (Mark Naylor, Friday Feb 4, 2022)

L9 Introduction to Seismology.

L10 Elementary elastic theory and seismic waves.

L11 Seismic refraction and crustal layering.

L12 Seismic reflection.

L13 Whole Earth Structure.

L14 Earthquake size.

L15 Earthquake focal mechanisms.

L16 Seismotectonics and seismic hazard.

PART 3 (Wyn Williams, Wednesday March 2, 2022)

L17 Introduction to Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity.

L18 Earth's main magnetic field.

L19 The solar wind.

L20 Time variations of the magnetic field.

L21 The origin of the geomagnetic field.

L22 Magnetic properties of rocks.

L23 Crustal magnetic anomalies.

L24 Introduction to palaeomagnetism.

L25 What palaeomagnetism tells us about the Earth.

PART 4 (David Stevenson, Wednesday March 23, 2022)

L26 Geothermal Energy.

L27 Heat and temperature.

L28 Heat and time: daily, seasonal and glacial cycles.

L29 The Earth's Heat.

L30 Heat and time: thermal history of the Earth.

Further Course Information
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  90
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 15, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 145 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Feedback will be given via written comments in class on class assessments and through in-class discussions. The course will also be supported by an on-line adaptive learning environment, where students can go through the course material at their own pace supported by formative online testing.

Assessment and Feedback information
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a broad knowledge and understanding of how geophysics is used to build up a picture of the interior of the Earth and the processes which generate its structure and surface features.
  2. Be aware of how the same techniques used on the Earth can be employed to remotely sense other planets, as well as the Earth's oceans and atmosphere.
  3. Understand the principles of the geophysical techniques by which this information is derived.
  4. Gain practical experience and understanding of some geophysical survey techniques in the field and how observations can be interpreted.
  5. Write a scientific report and critically evaluate evidence-based solutions.
Reading List
Recommended reading

Recommended Text to be bought for the Course:

Fundamentals of Geophysics W. Lowrie; Cambridge University Press, January 2020 (3d Edition)

(Accessible online at - overview)

Alternative textbook for continuing Geophysics students:

Frank M. Stacey & Paul M. Davies, Physics of the Earth (2008) (CUP, 4th edition)

Reference Texts for further reading:

An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration

P.K. Keary & M. Brooks; Blackwell, 1991 (Third Edition) The Solid Earth: An introduction to Global Geophysics C.M.R. Fowler; Cambridge University Press.

Looking into the Earth Alan Mussett & Aftab Khan; Cambridge University Press.

Earthquakes Bruce Bolt; Freeman Press 1999 (Fourth edition)

Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes & Earth Structure Seth Stein & Michel Wysession; Blackwell

Introduction to Seismology (suitable for continuing geophysicists) Peter M. Shearer; Cambridge University Press, 1999

All textbooks are available in the reserve collection of the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, Kings Buildings Campus.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Wyn Williams
Tel: (0131 6)50 4909
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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