Skip to main content

Unit information: Structural Geology in 2021/22

Unit name Structural Geology
Unit code EASC20006
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Cooper
Open unit status Not open

EASC10001 Geology 1

EASC20045 Mapping, Tectonics and Remote Sensing



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit will provide a solid grounding in fundamental concepts of structural geology and rock deformation. Building on structural geology skills and knowledge developed in relevant first and second year units (Geology 1, Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences, Introduction to Field Mapping and Mapping, Tectonics and Remote Sensing), the unit will examine deformational structures in a more quantitative manner in three dimensions.

Lectures will cover elements of brittle and ductile deformation, faults and folds, macro- and microscopic aspects of rock deformation and kinematic analysis.

Practicals will focus on plotting, visualising and analysing structural data using stereographic projections, and constructing structural maps and cross-sections. Relevant concepts will be put into a broader tectonic context, and the relationships between brittle and ductile deformation in the Earth's crust will be explored.

A 2-day field trip to a tectonically deformed area will put the lecture and practical material into a real-world context, giving students a chance to measure, plot, and interpret structural data, create a structural map and cross-section, and develop a structural history for the area.

The main aims of the field trip are to:

  1. develop skills in recording the principal field attributes of commonly occurring tectonic structures
  2. construct a structural map and cross-section
  3. generate skills in the quantitative and semi-quantitative methods of palaeostress and palaeostrain analysis
  4. interpret geological structures in terms of process and tectonic regime.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion you will be able to:

  • understand the three dimensional nature of structural geology
  • recognise commonly occurring natural structures linked to deformation
  • determine the chronological sequence in which an exposed assemblage of structures was formed and to recognise superimposed deformation
  • describe the principles of stereographic projection involving graphical plotting of 3-D geometric data in 2-D, and have skills in reading and using such projections to solve structural problems
  • apply stereographic projection as a means of representing the three-dimensional orientations of planar and linear structures; to use such methods to investigate and analyse three dimensional structures.
  • critically analyse the character of deformation structures and to interpret the causal deformation process and tectonic regime in which they formed
  • analyse and interpret the structural history of a region from a geologic map
  • create a structural map and cross-section of an area from structural data and observations collected in the field

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
  • fieldwork

Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical or field work, or alternative activities in person, either during the academic year 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

Examination (50%) - 2-hour examination that will cover material from both the lectures and practicals

Coursework (50%) - in the form of two field exercises:

  1. Construction of an annotated structural cross-section with 1-page tectonic summary. To be completed and handed in during the trip. (10%)
  2. A structural mapping report comprising a structural map and cross-section, a structural analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field, and an assessment of the broader tectonic history of the area. To be completed and handed in after the trip (40%).

The report should comprise no more than 10 pages of text, annotated field sketches and diagrams, and, in addition, the map, cross section and relevant structural data plots.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASC20006).