The UNSW Earth Materials (GEOS2181) course provides an introduction to the nature and analysis of minerals, clays, rocks, meteorites and gem materials. You’ll learn about the composition of the outermost layer of the Earth known as the crust - responsible for the majority of life on Earth, supporting the growth of plants and survival of animals, volcanic eruptions and the latest analytical techniques.

At UNSW, our lecturers will take you on a thorough investigation into the genesis, analysis and classification of minerals and igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types. Throughout the course, you’ll study analysis techniques that range from radiometric dating to chemical methods and X-ray diffraction. You’ll also undertake a detailed examination of their optical properties under the polarising microscope.  

The course is structured around lectures, associated readings and content on diverse mineralogical and petrological topics. The concepts discussed are reinforced by laboratory and fieldwork.


Course Breakdown   

After the successful completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify common rock-forming minerals, igneous and sedimentary rocks in both hand-specimen and thin-section
  • Apply your knowledge to analyse and identify unknown materials
  • Use field relationships, petrographic analysis and geochemical analyses to determine the broad evolutionary history and environment of formation of igneous and sedimentary rocks


Conditions for Enrolment  

Before enrolling in the course, it’s assumed you’ve completed the following courses:


Career Opportunities      

Earth Scientists explore the nature, evolution and structure of our planet, studying everything from natural crystals to fossils, volcanoes and mineral deposits. The study of Earth Science looks to better understand our planet, predict the future based on known environmental change over time and tectonic plate movements and manage sustainable mineral resources. 

At UNSW Science, you can become an expert in this field by specialising in the Earth Science major.

Relevant Roles

  • Meteorologist 
  • Geologist 
  • Geochemist
  • Museum curator
  • Scientific consultant
  • Geophysicist 
  • Hydrologist 
  • Ecologist 
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Natural Resource Manager 
  • Marine Scientist 
  • Marine Biologist 
  • Environmental Scientist