The UNSW Fundamentals of Geology (GEOS1111) course provides a foundation of geology, exploring the properties of minerals and rocks, and the processes by which their form is described. With hands-on investigation in the laboratory and the field, this course introduces you to the physical world through a geological lens. You’ll discover how the Earth has formed and deformed over billions of years and learn what variety of mineral and energy resources are essential for the future.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn the history of geology and the structure and consequences for the formation and preservation of minerals resources. You’ll be provided with the methods for analysis, description and definition of geological materials and resources.

To further your knowledge of geological history, you’ll discover how to interpret geological maps, including visualising 3D forms of folded and faulted rock sequences. During fieldwork trips, our lecturers will encourage you to be more observant of the Earth’s surface as every rock, pebble and grain of sand has a story to tell.

"It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door…”

- Charles Darwin, Geologist and Biologist

During the course, you may seek to answer the following questions:

  • What are the main building blocks of the Earth?
  • How do mountains, ocean basins and rift valleys form?
  • What geological processes have shaped our Earth?
  • Where will we find the essential resources to support our ever-changing technologies?

Geology is fundamental to understanding the physical world and answering the endless questions are essential for science, society and all industries.


Course Breakdown

Fundamentals of Geology is a first-year course and is essential for anyone studying an Earth Science major or specialisation. The course aims to introduce you to the fundamental building blocks of our planet – the rocks that define landscapes and mineral exploration methods. It will provide you with fundamental knowledge essential for Earth Science and other geology-related majors.

Fundamentals of Geology is complementary to the following courses:

It will also prepare you for the following courses:

Fundamentals of Geology covers the following topics:

  • Minerals: atomic structure, bond types, crystal structures, mineral classes and more
  • Stratigraphy: definition and uses, principles of original horizontality, later continuity theory of natural selection and more
  • Plate tectonics: pre-plate tectonic models, plate tectonic model and plate boundaries
  • Geological timescale: early estimates of geological time, relative and absolute time scales, the fossil record, principles of relative and absolute dating (using radioactive isotopes)
  • Igneous rocks: processes and description, sequence crystallisation, tectonic setting of igneous activity and more
  • Metamorphism and metamorphic rocks: causes and types of metamorphism, reactions and textures, classification and more
  • Mapping: nature of the outcrop, characteristic landforms, drainage patterns and more
  • Economic geology: economic minerals and ore deposits, economics driving mineral exploration and more


Conditions for Enrolment

There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, you may wish to take Environmental Systems, Processes and Issues (GEOS1701) and Evolutionary and Functional Biology (BIOS1101) concurrently with this course.


Career Opportunities

This course provides a basis in geology to those wishing to pursue professional careers in Geoscience and Environmental Science. It may also be of interest to those who seek to understand the nature and origin of earth materials.

Relevant Roles

  • Meteorologist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Mining Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Earth Scientist
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Marine Scientist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Environmental Scientist

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