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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL3301: Petrology, Geochemistry and Global Tectonics

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOL2231 Igneous and Metamorphic Geochemistry and Petrology


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Explore the primary control subduction exerts on global geochemical cycles and the creation and destruction of Earth's crust
  • Understand the changes to the oceanic crust from ridge to subduction
  • Critically appraise geochemical data from primitive basalts for application to aspects of subduction and melt generation
  • Apply petrographic and geochemical data to case studies of arc magmatism and interpret results
  • Evaluation of geochemical data to understand the processes and timescales of Earths formation, and the evolution of the mantle and crust over Earths geological history


  • Understanding dynamic Earth systems.
  • The drivers of global Earth processes.
  • The relationship between interior and exterior processes.
  • Integrating petrologic, geochemical and tectonic information to evaluate magma generation
  • Understanding the geochemical evolution of the Earth

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Evaluation of observational evidence for solid Earth processes and driving mechanisms.
  • Subject knowledge and understanding of the primary control subduction exerts of global geochemical cycles.
  • Subject knowledge and understanding of the structure, composition and history of the Earth and how these vary over geological timescales.
  • Subject knowledge and understanding in petrological and geochemical processes and their role in shaping the Earth.
  • Subject knowledge of the uses and limitations of isotopic applications in the solid Earth and arc systems
  • Subject-specific knowledge of the history and role of the International Ocean Discovery Program
  • Subject-specific knowledge of the definition, use and measurement of oxygen fugacity.
  • Subject-specific knowledge on the use of short- and long-lived isotopes to understand Earth's formation and differentiation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Intellectual and practical skills to apply geological principles and methodologies to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Intellectual and practical skills to critique and test existing hypotheses.
  • Intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Student's experience and expertise will be improved through:
  • Discipline skills developed through the taught material and practical exercises.
  • Interpersonal skills in class sessions including small group work and presentation skills.
  • Problem solving in class.
  • Produce a written, critical appraisal of a currently debated topic in petrology and/or geochemistry

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered through 2 terms of research-led teaching, delivered in 3 hour blocks which comprise a mixture of lecture and practicals, formative exercises, group discussions and directed reading through which students learn about Earth processes and driving forces and acquire skills.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills is provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures and discussion/practical sessions 16 Weekly 3 hours 48
Preparation and reading 152
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen written examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Report Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Students choose from a list of provided topics directly related to lecture material. They produce a 5000 word report on their chosen topic that incorporates a compilation and evaluation of literature to aid in examining a current geochemical and/or petrologic debate. 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be given on all practical activities and advice will be given on exam technique.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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