Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Fundamentals of Geochemistry
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  Semester 1  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  Semester 2  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Exam  Semester 1  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Exam  Semester 2  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Describe the major divisions of the Earth from a chemical/mineralogical perspective.

Describe the controls on element distribution within Earth materials.

Understand the distribution and controls on element form and concentration in waters, soils, and sediments.

Explain the processes of chemical weathering, solute transport, and solubility in aqueous systems.

Brief description

This course is a two-semester course exploring the fundamentals of geochemistry. It aims to cover the importance of geochemistry as the science that underlies almost every geological process as well as processes that control the chemistry of waters, soils, and sediments.


The course will firstly develop understanding of the primary environment: the chemistry of planet Earth and the differentiation of the planet into major geochemical reservoirs. The course will then consider the geochemistry of the secondary environment: the chemistry of waters, soils and sediments in near surface and surface environments. The course will focus on fundamental processes which control the chemistry of the primary and secondary environment. This includes aspects of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Much of the content of this module is numerical in nature. Examples will include the use of equations to describe the behaviour of trace elements in igneous systems and the role of solubility product in controlling the mobility of elements in the surface environments.
Communication There is no assessed element of communication skills in this module. However, it is expected that students will tend to work together in small ‘self-help’ groups to work on the workbooks and extra-lecture material. This will encourage communication skills development.
Improving own Learning and Performance Using the workbooks will allow the students to monitor their performance and should provide additional material to improve their learning. This additional resource will encourage students to monitor their progress throughout the module and will provide them with the opportunity to improve their performance through a steady process of feedback on their individual learning.
Information Technology Computer based geochemical modelling will be considered in the course developing key IT skills in geochemistry. The module will have a full reading list with links to on-line resources which will encourage the use of IT. The assessment criteria used for exam marking allows for additional reading and research to be rewarded through the marking system.
Personal Development and Career planning Many graduates go on to work in the environmental sector where they use geochemistry skills in their professional careers. The applied nature of this module will be explained to the students throughout.
Problem solving The nature of geochemistry as a subject means that the module will have problem solving as a consistent theme throughout. In many cases geochemists do not have direct access to materials to sample and analyse and so must use proxies and models to solve these problems. Problem solving is embedded into the structure of the module.
Research skills Research will be encouraged through the emphasis on examples from outside the lecture material and directed introductions to on-line resources (with the explicit expectations that the students will expand on these introductions).
Subject Specific Skills This course is, as the title implies, fundamental to the understanding of a full range of geological/environmental processes. These are vital subject-specific skills which our graduates go on to use in their working lives.
Team work The module is supported by weekly workshops which will be designed to support and expand on the material covered in the individual lecture topics. It is anticipated that the small cohort of students will naturally work in small ‘self-help’ groups to solve some of the problems posed within these additional resources. Thus team work will be encouraged.


This module is at CQFW Level 5