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Unit information: Geochemistry 1 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 Geochemistry 1
Unit code EASC20043
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Tim Elliott
Open unit status Not open


School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The aim of the unit is to develop key skills in Geochemistry. The main emphasis is in application of chemical equilibrium to natural scenarios to understand the distribution of elements and isotopes in the environment. The unit also provides a quantitative grounding in radiometric dating.

Intended learning outcomes

  • perform simple chemical equilibrium calculations to predict concentrations of dissolved chemical components in aqueous solutions.
  • describe the geochemical controls on the compositions on natural waters
  • predict the fate of important environmental pollutants
  • explain the causes of stable isotopic fractionation and its applications in Earth Sciences
  • apply the principles of radiometric dating to calculate ages for simple scenarios
  • use isotopic measurements as tracers in the natural environment

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

End-of-unit timed open-book examination (100%)

Reading and References


  • Langmuir, D.L., Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry, Pearson 1996
  • White, W.M. Geochemistry, Wiley-Blackwell 2013

Further Reading

  • Allègre, C.J.. Isotope Geochemistry, Cambridge University Press 2008 (further reading)