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Unit information: Physics and Chemistry for Earth Scientists in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Physics and Chemistry for Earth Scientists
Unit code EASC10006
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Kohn
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The goal of this unit is to give students a foundation in the fundamental concepts in physics and chemistry needed for geology and environmental geoscience. Closely integrated in this goal is the development of applied mathematical and problem-solving skills. The unit is optional but any Earth Science student who is admitted to the University without good A-level grades in Maths, Physics and Chemistry (or their equivalent qualifications) is strongly advised to take the unit. The unit will comprise 42 lectures and 14 practicals.

At the start of the course there will be a basic algebra test. Those who pass will join the course in week 3. Those who do not pass will receive algebra teaching in weeks 1 and 2.

The Physics component will run in weeks 3 to 8; Chemistry will run in weeks 9 to 14.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Ability to solve quantitative problems using dimensional analysis; understanding of errors and uncertainties.
  • Understanding of fundamental principles of classical mechanics and how these principles are expressed mathematically using elementary calculus.
  • Understanding of fundamental ideas in chemical bonding which govern the distribution of elements in the Earth.
  • Understanding of chemical equilibria in aqueous solutions: acid-base, solubility and oxidation-reduction reactions.
  • Ability to do simple thermodynamic and equilibrium calculations to solve problems in solid-state and aqueous geochemistry.

Teaching details

3 lectures and 1 (3 hour) practical per week. In addition homework assignments will be set. Course materials and formative assessment exercises will be delivered online.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment is divided equally between the Physics and Chemistry components of the unit.

For the Physics component the assessment will be a series of weekly tests (80%) and a problem set (20%).

For the Chemistry component the assessment will be a series of weekly tests (100%).

Reading and References

Custom textbooks will be provided; material will also be provided online.