Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Geological Evolution of the British Isles
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 7 x 2 Hour Practicals
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Short answer/multiple choice examination paper. Comprising Evolution of Britain - 50%, Earth Structures - 10% Geological Maps - 40%  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Resit Exam  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module, students should have :-

  • an awareness of the fundamental principles of stratigraphy and the key personalities responsible for formulating them
  • knowledge of the magnitude of geological time and the problems of dealing with it
  • a basic knowledge of the way the present day distribution of geological materials came about, including resources which underpin much of today's political and social patterns, and in particular the physical and cultural landscape of the British Isles
  • a basic working knowledge of geological maps and an appreciation for their breadth of application


The module provides a basic introduction to the distribution and arrangement of earth materials, through the geological past and as they are now. It is primarily aimed at students with some earth science background, e.g. EA11510: Planet Earth.


The distribution and arrangement of earth materials, through the geological past and as they are now, form the core of this module. The development of ideas concerning the evolution of geology as a science are outlined with references to key personalities of the 17th-19th centuries. The concept and measurement of geological time and time-scales are next introduced. We trace the progressive evolution of the surface of our planet, focusing on Britain and its place in the global context. We also look at:

(i) earth structures - how deformation in the earth has modified the arrangement of materials;
(ii) the present-day distribution of earth resources, including energy sources and mineral deposits in
(iii) the links between geology and landscape; and
(iv) the nature and uses of geological maps.

Maps form a convenient way of summarising and recording geological information, and help bring together the different themes of the course. The basic principles are covered in both the 1st edition (Blue cover) and the 2nd edition (Green cover) of the recommended text book by Maltman, but the 2nd Edition includes sections on environmental matters and physical geography.

The lecture themes are:

Week 1
Evolution of Geological concepts
Geological time

Week 2
Geological maps

Week 3
Earth Structures

Week 4
Geological maps

Week 6
Geological maps

Week 7
Tectonic framework of British Isles (Archaean - Mid-Proterozoic)
Late-Precambrian: sedimentary basins, orogenies and magmatism

Week 8 Cambrian - Silurian Caledonian Orogeny

Week 9 Late Palaeozoic: Devonian to Carboniferous Variscan orogeny; Permian and Triassic

Week 10 Jurassic/Cretaceous Caenozoic (Palaeogene, Neogene and Quaternary)


This module is at CQFW Level 4