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Unit information: Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences in 2021/22

Unit name Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences
Unit code EASC10008
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Benton
Open unit status Not open



EASC10001 Geology 1

School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit, for which no previous field experience is necessary, comprises a seven-day course in which learners will attain and develop the essential techniques of geological fieldwork. The course combines field exercises with indoor sessions of analysis, interpretation and presentation, and is designed to achieve four principal aims, enabling leaners:

  • to observe a variety of rock types and geological structures in outcrop and differentiate their most important characteristics.
  • to acquire and practice basic methods of geological data gathering and recording
  • to apply your own field data to the solution of specific geological problems
  • to evaluate the geological history of a specific area as determined from evidence that you or your colleagues have collected

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit learners will be able to:

  • work safely and efficiently in the field, including in coastal and mountainous areas
  • use a map and compass to locate a rock outcrop precisely
  • observe the principal features of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks in the field using standard equipment (e.g. hand lens, grain size comparator)
  • interpret their observations in terms of the environment and mode of formation of rock bodies and their subsequent history of consolidation, deformation and metamorphism
  • make accurate and reproducible measurements of planar and linear features using a compass-clinometer and interpret structural data using a stereographic projection
  • make field sketches ranging from fast, generalised sketches to more detailed interpretative diagrams
  • construct a sedimentary log and interpret stratigraphy in terms of thickness and time
  • employ fossils to determine ancient environments of sediment deposition
  • record geological data in map form on a variety of scales using standard symbols
  • exchange notes with a colleague, evaluate field notes that describe outcrops you have not seen, and pool data to solve a common problem
  • as part of a small team, design a geological field investigation of their choosing and present the results orally using visual aids.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a series of synchronous fieldwork and consolidation workshops. Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete fieldwork, 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

Assessment is based entirely on coursework.

Formative feedback is given on workshops and lectures delivered in Bristol. Completing workshops is mandatory in order to gain credit points for the unit as these will feed directly into the coursework.

Notebooks are collected at intervals during the course of the fieldwork and formative comments are provided.

Set exercises are collected daily for summative assessment. Learners develop their work in response to formative comments. Marks are awarded as follows:

  • Cross-cutting relationships and geological history 20%
  • Structural analysis 20%
  • Geological mapping 30%
  • Team project 20% (The team exercise is allocated a single mark based on peer marking, moderated by teaching staff; individuals gain additional marks in this exercise by asking sensible questions of the other teams)
  • Professionalism throughout the week 10%


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. EASC10008).