Skip to main content

Unit information: Physics and Chemistry for Earth Scientists in 2020/21

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 Earth Sciences programmes. Closely integrated in this goal is the development of applied mathematical and problem-solving skills.

The unit will be taught over 14 weeks and include lectures and practical classes. 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.

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

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory

Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work, or alternative activities in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Details

Summative: Timed pen-book exam (100%)

Reading and References

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