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Last modified: 26 Feb 2018 18:38

Course Overview

This course is concerned with absolute and relative time-scales as used by geologists to date geological events and processes.  Absolute dating using isotopic techniques, including the treatment of raw data, forms the cornerstone of the course. The use of the fossil record in relative and absolute dating is integrated with geological maps and absolute dating techniques to give a broad overview of the methods used by geologists to determine sequences of events in Earth’s history.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Alex Brasier

Qualification Prerequisites

  • [$2]

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of GL1005 The Nature of the Environment Through Geological Time (Passed) or GL1006 The Dynamic Planet (Distance) (Passed) or KL107Z The Dynamic Planet (Passed)
  • One of GL1505 Earth's Materials (Passed) or GL1506 Portrait of a Planet (Distance) (Passed) or KL157X Portrait of a Planet (Second Half-Session) (Passed)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • GL2010 Palaeontology (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

  • absolute dating - Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, U-Pb, K-Ar & Ar-Ar systematics and the treatment of raw data (mineral and whole-rock)
  • relative timing of geological events from geological maps
  • basic principles of facies analysis
  • case studies of integrated used of time, sequencing and interpretative stratigraphical tools based on published geological maps.
  • Further Information & Notes

    Students with 'A' level Geology or equivalent may be exempt from the GL 1005 prerequisite. Students who have taken and passed KL 107X or KL 157X or equivalent make take this course subject to prior permission of the course coordinator.

    Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

    • BSc Geography-Geoscience
    • BSc Geology
    • BSc Geology - Physics
    • BSc Geology-Petroleum Geology
    • BSc Physics with Geology
    • Bachelor Of Science In Geophysics
    • Master of Geology

    Contact Teaching Time

    88 hours

    This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

    Teaching Breakdown


    1st Attempt: in-course assessment (60%) - lab work (geochronology calculations and report; map interpretation) (40%) examination - 1½ hours.

    Resit: Original in-course assessment (60%); Examination (40%) - 1½ hours.

    Formative Assessment

    Informal progress reports on lab work - interim marking of lab-based exercises. WebCT MCQ tests three times a term.


    Formative: Verbal report, WebCT Summative: written feedback normally within 2 weeks of original sumbmission.

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