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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geosciences

Undergraduate Course: The Dynamic Earth (GESC08003)

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
SummaryThis foundational course presents a biography of planet Earth: when and how it formed, its structure and climate, how it has changed over time, how life originated and evolved in concert with climate and physical processes like plate tectonics, and what processes shape our modern world.
Course description *** This course is open to other university students however, priority will be given to students on the Earth Science/Geology Degree Programmes. ***

The Earth is our home, and as far as we currently know, the only habitable planet. For over 4.5 billion years, Earth has experienced many changes due to physical processes from within and at the surface of the Earth. It has been the stage for the origin and diversification of life, from microbes to complex ecosystems including organisms such as dinosaurs and humans. Its dynamic interior and surface have built and destroyed mountains leading to the habitable continents, ocean basins, and an atmosphere that can not only sustain life but control climate.

This course is intended as a foundation course for all Earth scientists, as well as students from other disciplines like biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering who wish to understand how our planet operates. The course is taught through the concept of connectivity between the evolution of life, and the physical Earth over time, plate tectonics and the rock cycle, and climate and elemental cycles. It aims to convey the relevant spatial and temporal length scales involved in Earth processes. Through lectures, innovative hands-on practical's, museum visits and geological tours of Edinburgh, and a field trip, students will come to understand how the Earth works as an integrated system of physical processes, life, and climate, and appreciate how our modern world has emerged.

Weeks 1-3 The evolution of Earth and life
Weeks 4-6 Volcanoes, earthquakes and plate tectonics
Weeks 7-9 Carbon and Climate
Week 10 A holistic view of a changing Earth

*Students who have previously taken Earth Dynamics should not take this course*
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Earth Dynamics (EASC08001)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  131
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Fieldwork Hours 10, Other Study Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 96 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Group work
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be: 40% continuous assessment weekly quizzes; 30% portfolio of practical work; 30% peer-assessed group poster or online presentation.
Feedback Feedback will be from both formative and summative activities. Summative feedback includes written and oral feedback on the practical portfolio and group presentations, as well as the results of the weekly summative quizzes. Formative feedback includes discussion during fieldtrips and practicals, the formative quiz results. and opportunities to discuss the course content on discussion fora.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of fundamental processes that have shaped the Earth over time and made it a habitable planet
  2. Describe the history of the Earth and the evolution of life on it
  3. Summarize the basic interdependencies between plate tectonics, climate and life
  4. Interrogate physical, chemical, and biological data to understand how we know what we know about the Earth
  5. Have developed observational (field and lab), analytical, scientific communication and group work skills.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Skills developed as part of this course include fieldwork and rock/fossil identification, teamwork, collaboration- and presentation skills.
KeywordsEarth; geology; evolution; climate; carbon cycle; plate tectonics; fossils; volcanoes,earthquakes
Course organiserDr Stephen Brusatte
Tel: (0131 6)50 6039
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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