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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Geophysics (EASC08008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryA comprehensive introduction to the physical study of the Earth, concentrating on descriptive and interpretative aspects of both pure and applied geophysics, including discussion of earthquakes and seismology, gravity, geomagnetism, the thermal state of the Earth and plate tectonics.

Further Course Information
Course description Syllabus
L1 Introduction to the course and the methodology of science. (Wyn Williams, Monday Jan 11, 2020)

PART 1 (David Stevenson, Wednesday Jan 13, 2020)
L2 Earth's gravity, mass and density.
L3 Variation of gravity with latitude.
L4 Variation of gravity with altitude.
L5 Interpreting gravity anomalies.
L6 Isostasy.
L7 Gravity measurements and applications.
L8 Atmospheric geophysics.

PART 2 (Ian Main, Friday Jan 29, 2020)
L9 Introduction to Seismology.
L10 Elementary elastic theory and seismic waves.
L11 Seismic refraction and crustal layering.
L12 Seismic reflection.
L13 Whole Earth Structure.
L14 Earthquake size.
L15 Earthquake focal mechanisms.
L16 Seismotectonics and seismic hazard.

PART 3 (Wyn Williams, Wednesday Feb 24, 2020 )
L17 Introduction to Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity.
L18 Earth's main magnetic field.
L19 The solar wind.
L20 Time variations of the magnetic field.
L21 The origin of the geomagnetic field.
L22 Magnetic properties of rocks.
L23 Crustal magnetic anomalies.
L24 Introduction to palaeomagnetism.
L25 What palaeomagnetism tells us about the Earth.

PART 4 (David Stevenson, Wednesday March 17, 2020)
L26 Geothermal Energy.
L27 Heat and temperature.
L28 Heat and time: daily, seasonal and glacial cycles.
L29 The Earth's Heat.
L30 Heat and time: thermal history of the Earth.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  82
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 15, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 145 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Feedback will be given via written comments in class on class assessments and through in-class discussions. The course will also be supported by an on-line adaptive learning environment, where students can go through the course material at their own pace supported by formative online testing.

Assessment and Feedback information
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a broad knowledge and understanding of how geophysics is used to build up a picture of the interior of the Earth and the processes which generate its structure and surface features.
  2. Be aware of how the same techniques used on the earth can be employed to remotely sense other planets, as well as the Earth's oceans and atmosphere.
  3. Understand the principles of the geophysical techniques by which this information is derived.
  4. Gain practical experience and understanding of some geophysical survey techniques in the field and how observations can be interpreted.
  5. Write a scientific report and critically evaluate evidence-based solutions
Reading List
Recommended Text to be bought for the Course:
Fundamentals of Geophysics
W. Lowrie; Cambridge University Press, September 2007
Alternative textbook for continuing Geophysics students:
Frank M. Stacey & Paul M. Davies, Physics of the Earth (2008)
(CUP, 4th edition)
Reference Texts for further reading:
An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration
P.K. Keary & M. Brooks; Blackwell, 1991 (Third Edition)
The Solid Earth: An introduction to Global Geophysics
C.M.R. Fowler; Cambridge University Press.
Looking into the Earth
Alan Mussett & Aftab Khan; Cambridge University Press.
Bruce Bolt; Freeman Press 1999 (Fourth edition)
Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes & Earth Structure
Seth Stein & Michel Wysession; Blackwell
Introduction to Seismology (suitable for continuing geophysicists)
Peter M. Shearer; Cambridge University Press, 1999
All textbooks are available in the reserve collection of the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, Kings Buildings Campus.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Timetable
Semester: Semester 2
Lectures: 10.00 - 10.50, Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Practical class: Tuesday 14.00 - 17.00 weeks 2, 3 and 10 or
Thursday 14.00 - 17.00 weeks 2, 3 and 10
Laboratory: Tuesday 14.00 - 17.00 weeks 6 and 7 or
Thursday 14.00 - 17.00 weeks 6 and 7
Course organiserProf Wyn Williams
Tel: (0131 6)50 4909
Course secretaryMs Katerina Sykioti
Tel: (0131 6)51 5251
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