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GE406 Introduction to Geology

Course description for academic year 2021/2022

Contents and structure

The course introduces fundamental geological processes and concepts which are needed to understand the composition, structure and evolution of the Earth through geological time. The course further introduces the importance of geology for modern society. Through the geological cycle, the course describes the relationship between external (climate, weathering, erosion, transport, deposition) and internal (plate tectonics, mountain building, deformation, earthquake, metamorphism and magmatism) processes that shape the Earth, which represent the foundations for all human activities. The course gives an introduction into classification of minerals, sediments and rocks (sedimentary, magmatic and metamorphic), as well as knowledge about topographic and geological maps. Trough field excursions and exercises from Norway and the nearest surroundings, the course introduces rocks and landforms from Norway’s geological history.

Learning Outcome

Students should know about:

  • the geological cycle and the driving forces behind. The students learn to place different rock types within the cycle and will be able to explain which processes occur in the different environments where the rocks are formed.
  • the role of geology in society. The students will understand how geology influences important societal areas such as infrastructure, soil formation and resources.  
  • what minerals consist of and how different elements are bound together to form minerals with different properties.  
  • the most important events in the geological history of Norway, from bedrock formation to sediment deposition and erosion of the landscape during glacial cycles.

Students should know about the most important geological processes affecting the surface of the Earth:

  • how glaciers and cryosphere processes reshape our landscape. Students should describe and identify small-scale erosional and depositional landforms, in addition to explain key glacial terms and definitions.  
  • how ocean- and atmospheric circulation affects global climate. Be able to account for the most important climate events through Earth’s history.  
  • how sedimentary rock are formed, their origin and explain the different sedimentary structures on Earth’s surface.  
  • how processes disintegrate and dissolve material from the Earth’s surface through erosion and mass transport.  
  • how mechanical and chemical weathering affects rocks and minerals and the link to soil formation.  
  • explain the water cycle. How water erodes, transports and deposits material from rivers and ground water.

Students should know about the composition and structure of the Earth and the most important geological processes affecting the interior of the Earth:

  • how the theory of plate tectonics was developed, which mechanisms that are used to explain this theory, what kind of plate boundaries exist, and which processes are happening along these boundaries.  
  • how partial melting and crystallization of rocks works from the interior to the surface of the Earth (magmatic processes), and how this results in formation of magmatic intrusive and extrusive rocks.
  • how transformation of rocks happens when temperature and pressure conditions change (metamorphism), and how this results in formation of metamorphic rocks.
  • how deformation of rocks due to plate tectonic movements happens close to the surface (brittle deformation) and at depth (ductile deformation), and how this results in various permanent structures such as folds and faults, and sudden events such as earthquakes (release of elastic deformation) and tsunamis.

Students are able to:

  • identify approximately 25 different minerals and 30 different rock types
  • describe and identify various landforms and explain likely formation mechanisms
  • describe sediment samples and identify likely depositional processes
  • interpret topographic and geological maps and are able to use digital map databases

Students are able to:

  • understand, discuss and communicate fundamental geological concepts and processes shaping the Earth’s interior as well as the Earth’s surface
  • understand the role of geology in society regarding infrastructure, soil formation and the use of variable resources
  • make own geological observations and describe simple geological situations with own words
  • critically evaluate various sources for geological information

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

Lectures, practical exercises and mandatory field excursions.

Compulsory learning activities

Mandatory participation on up to 5 field excursion days (with up to 2 overnight stays). Mandatory delivery of up to 3 exercises related to the field excursions. Mandatory delivery of exercises (quiz-type), 10 of 13 out of which have to be passed.


Written examination in two parts. Each part of the exam must be passed in order to complete the course. If you fail one of the two parts, only the failed part will have to be re-examined.

First part: Written examination under supervision (2 x 45 minutes, focus on practical exercises) with identification of minerals, rocks and sediment samples as well as interpretation of topographic maps. 30% weight towards final grade.

Second part: Written school examination under supervision (4 hours, digital, focus on theory). 70% weight towards final grade.

Grading: A - F.

Examination support material


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