Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Advanced Earth Materials
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Practical workbook completed during face to face practicals    60%
Semester Assessment Forensic geoscience presentation    40%
Supplementary Assessment Practical workbook completed during face to face practicals  60%
Supplementary Assessment Forensic geoscience presentation  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Use the petrological microscope to identify the typical rock-forming minerals and use optical tests to determine mineral composition (where appropriate)

2. Demonstrate the link between melting and evolution of magmas in controlling the type of rock generated.

3. Explain the generation of economic mineral/bulk deposits

4. Classify consolidated and unconsolidated sedimentary materials using both a geological and an engineering scheme and be able to describe the link between porosity, permeability and flow through a porous medium.

5. Demonstrate the link between protolith geochemistry and metamorphic mineralogy under a variety of metamorphic conditions and link these conditions to major tectonic processes.

Brief description

This module builds on the material covered in the first year EA12520 Earth Materials course. In this module more advanced material is covered.

In the mineralogy section the structure and chemistry of the major mineral groups will be described. The optical properties of rock-forming minerals will be described and students will gain practical experience with the petrological microscope. The link between major ore minerals and economic mineral deposits will be outlined.

In the igneous section of the course a wide range of igneous rocks will be examined. The generation and evolution of magmas will be discussed. In the practical component of this section students will gain experience in numerical/graphical representation of geochemical data to describe magma evolution and the behaviour of key trace elements in igneous systems. The generation of economic mineral deposits from igneous systems will be emphasized through specific case studies.

The sedimentary section of this course will encompass unconsolidated material as well as sedimentary rocks. Unconsolidated material will be described using both petrological and engineering classification systems. The link between unconsolidated material and the production of bulk materials will be emphasized. The consolidated sedimentary rocks will be studied in practical classes and advanced techniques (which might include: the quantitative assessment of pore volumes; the study of contaminated ‘soils’; contaminant flow through surficial deposits) will be taught. The links between sedimentary rocks and groundwater will be introduced. Sedimentary rocks will be considered in a stratigraphic context.

The metamorphic section of this course will focus on the link between metamorphism and materials of economic value. In the practical part of the course the link between bulk rock chemistry and metamorphic mineralogy will be explored.


The start of the course will cover advanced aspects of mineralogy in both lectures and practicals. This section will include the detailed structure of mineral groups and the link between structure and chemistry. The practical element of this section will consider both rock-forming and economic minerals. The petrological microscope will be used to conduct advanced tests on rock-forming minerals such as the use of optical tests to determine mineral composition. The hand specimen identification of minerals will be encouraged through the use of short, formative tests and quizzes.

The igneous section of the course will introduce the full range of igneous rock compositions and cover both magma generation and evolution. The behaviour of major and trace elements in igneous systems will be described in lectures and practical experience will be gained in displaying such data through the use of variation and phase diagrams. The important link between igneous rocks, tectonic setting and the generation of major mineral deposits will be covered.

The sedimentary section of the course is a major component of this module. It will consider unconsolidated sediments using both the geological and engineering description/classification systems. This section will emphasise the importance of unconsolidated sediments as economic materials. The processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks will be described in the lecture component of the course and studied in the practical element of the module. Advanced techniques will be introduced in the practicals. This section of the course will introduce the concepts of groundwater and its flow through porous materials.

The metamorphic section of the course will cover the link between rock geochemistry/mineralogy and different metamorphic grades. This section of the course will demonstrate the important link between tectonic processes and metamorphism. In the practical section metamorphic rocks will be studied and the use of diagrams to explain the link between rock composition and mineralogy will be examined.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The practical element of the course will include a variety of numerical exercises such as the use of geochemical data, trace element modelling and also the flow of fluids through porous media which will improve the application of number skills.
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed throughout this course. The final small group exercise will be assessed through an oral report, with cross-examination. The forensic geoscience project will enhance the writing skills of the student groups.
Improving own Learning and Performance Using the short, formative in-course tests will allow students to gauge their learning and, hopefully, improve their performance. Feedback will be provided on these formative tests.
Information Technology The final presentation on this module will require the use of presentation technology such as Powerpoint. A proportion of the marks awarded for the presentation will be based on the appropriate use of IT. The students will be given numerical data to use and present. This will require the use of spreadsheets. The final written report will be expected to be presented in a word-processed, professional format suitable for submission to a legal team.
Personal Development and Career planning Using case studies will highlight the importance of the practical examples to real-world problems and potential for future employment. The final assessment will use a wide range of the practical skills from the course to solve a problem and will help to develop personal/interpersonal skills.
Problem solving The strong practical element of this course will develop problem solving skills such as using advanced techniques for the petrological microscope. The final assessed exercise for this module will consist of a ‘forensic geoscience problem’ in which small groups of students will be given a range of ‘pieces of evidence of a geological nature’. The groups will have to use these pieces of evidence to solve a forensic problem and erect a body of evidence to present to a legal team.
Research skills Throughout the course the students will research sources of information to support the taught element of the course. Specific reading/research topics will be set to enhance the examples used in lectures and practicals so that the students assemble a broader range of examples and case studies particularly related to the economic deposits covered in the course.
Subject Specific Skills This core module will develop vital subject specific skills and enhance the employability of graduates through the use of real examples of: economic deposits (both mineral and bulk materials), contaminated ground and fluid flow through surface and near-surface environments.
Team work The forensic geoscience project, which forms 50% of the assessment on this module will help to develop team working skills. The teams will be assigned well in advance of the forensic project so that group members can establish team roles. The final oral presentation will involve all members of the team but the overall mark awarded will assess the team effort.


This module is at CQFW Level 5