Atoms to Volcanoes

This module provides an introduction to rock-forming minerals, the composition of the Earth and terrestrial planets, and the practical study of rocks and minerals in hand specimen and in "thin section" using the petrographic microscope. It will introduce the basic theory of crystallography and mineralogy and the properties of the major classes of rock-forming minerals.


The module will also explore igneous and metamorphic rocks and their genesis. This will involve the study of tectonic environments in which these rocks form, the major types of these rocks and their description in hand specimen and thin section.

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

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the overall chemical composition and structure of the Earth and the major processes regulating the distribution of elements.
  • Identify and describe the common types of igneous and metamorphic rocks and basic rock-forming minerals in hand specimen and - using a petrological microscope - in thin section.
  • Understand the origin of major igneous and metamorphic rock types.
  • Understand the basic geochemistry. Including atoms, elements, isotopes and balancing equations.


  • 1-hour multiple choice examination
  • Two in-course practical/worksheet assessments