Earth Materials


This module provides a key 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 then apply this understanding to the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks and their genesis. This will involve the study of tectonic environments in which these rocks form, the major types of igneous (intrusive, extrusive, felsic to mafic) and metamorphic (low to high grade) rocks and their description in hand specimen and thin section. 

The course also provides an introduction to basic chemistry and the first principals of geochemistry, especially in its application to magmatic and metamorphic processes. 

 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 rock-forming minerals.
  • Understand the origin and nature of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Use the petrological microscope to identify common primary minerals in igneous and metamorphic rocks, as well as interpreting mineral relationships and textures in thin section.
  • Understand basic geochemistry, including atoms, elements, isotopes, balancing equations, phases and reactions.


  • 1.5-hour multiple choice examination
  • Three in-course practical/worksheet assessments