GEOL111-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


A general introduction to the study of the dynamic Earth and its geology, including Earth structure and plate tectonics, volcanic activity, crystal processes and the nature of minerals and rocks.

Planet Earth gives you the opportunity to explore how our planet works. From the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans, our planet’s natural environments each have their own stories to tell yet all are the consequence of geology. In this course we will consider many of these environments and learn how to read their stories based on careful observation and consideration of the information captured in rocks and their expression at the Earth’s surface. Part detective, part interpreter, geologists make sense of things by piecing together complex puzzles using sharp skills of inference and observation: we dissect the Earth searching for clues and cues only to reassemble them into portraits of our planet.

There is no question that of all Earth’s portraits none is more inspiring than New Zealand’s. Geysers, gold, glaciers and the Alps, New Zealand’s natural diversity reflects its diverse geology – a unique system of violent volcanic eruptions and steadfast mountains counter-balanced by constant renewal and removal. In this course you will learn how geology creates these awesome environments. In this course you will learn how to read the stories written in Earth.

PLEASE NOTE: GEOL111 is prerequisite preparation for all second year geology courses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Goal of the Course
    To provide a general introduction to the Earth, with an emphasis on processes and rocks found at and near the Earth’s surface.

    Learning Outcomes
    Students successfully completing this course should:
    1) Explain fundamental geological concepts and terms.
    2) Observe, describe and identify earth materials, structures and landforms.
    3) Interpret earth processes and events using scientific observations, knowledge and reasoning.
    4) Discover and explain how Earth works as a system of interacting components across geological timescales.
    5) Understand geological processes, hazards and resources relevant to society.
    6) Identify and solve common geological problems by synthesizing multiple independent observations
    7) Identify, evaluate and reflect on potential career paths and professional opportunities in earth science.

    Summary of the Course Content
    The topics coved by this course include:
  •  Mineral composition of the Earth; Silicate minerals; Igneous rocks and processes; Introduction to volcanoes; Volcanoes and volcanic deposits; Intrusive igneous rocks
  •  Sedimentary processes and rocks – general classification and features; Weathering of rocks, sediments; Mass movement; Fluvial, glacial, aeolian, coastal and oceanic sedimentary processes and the resulting sedimentary rocks.
  •  Structure of the Earth – including faults and folds, plate tectonics and earthquakes.
  •  Metamorphism and economic geology; Evolution of the crust and methods of dating; Mineral resources and exploration.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.



Timetable Note

Lectures: 3 1 hour lectures per week - TBA by central timetabling

Laboratory classes: 1 lab 2 hours per week for 11 weeks - TBA by central timetabling. No labs in 1st week of term 1.

Fieldtrip: 1 day trip held weekend dates 14, 15, 21 or 22 March

Course Coordinator

Kate Pedley


Darren Gravley , Jarg Pettinga and Alex Nichols


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
In class lecture exercises 5% In class lecture exercises
On-line quizzes 10% On-line Practical Assessments
Short answer test 15% Short answer mid-term test
Lab Practical/Tutorial Assessments 30% Lab Practical Assignment
Final examination 40% Final examination

Assessment name  -  Weighting  -  Due date (if known)
In class lecture exercises  -  5%  -  Various
Online Practical Quizzes  -  10%  -  Various
Short Answer Test  -  15%  -  Friday 10 am 27th March
Final Practical Assessment  -  30%  -  Friday 5 pm 29th May
Final Examination  -  40%  -  Mid-Year Exam Timetable

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Marshak, Stephen,1955-; Earth : portrait of a planet ; Fifth edition, International student edition;

Recommended Reading

Bishop, A. C. , Hamilton, William Roger., Woolley, Alan Robert; Firefly guide to minerals, rocks & fossils ; Firefly Books, 2005.

Kearey, P; The new Penguin dictionary of geology ; 2nd ed; Penguin, 2001.

Course links

Library portal


Restrictions: ENCI271

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $945.00

International fee $4,473.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment on the departments and faculties page .

All GEOL111 Occurrences