Evolution of the Earth, life and environments ADED1266E

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: Short Courses
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 1 (SCQF level 7)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This is one of a pair of linked courses in Earth Science and is a modified version of the existing full-time undergraduate Earth Science module 1Y. The other course is Introduction to the Composition and Structure of the Earth. The two courses run in alternate years and can be taken in any order. Students who complete both of these courses will be eligible to progress to level 2 Earth Science courses subject to achieving satisfactory grades. This course covers geological surface processes, climate, economic and environmental geology, fossils, geological maps, and the geological history of Britain during the past 3,500 million years.


Block 1&2

2 hours pw for 20 weeks

Thursdays, 14.00-16.00 

Requirements of Entry

Undergraduates welcome.

A pass at grade D or better in the linked course (degree students only).

Excluded Courses





Two short writing exercises (10%); one-hour examination (30%); continuous assessment including practical work (25%); field reports (10%); map assessment (25%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The course is designed to introduce students to: 1) surface processes and the effects of climate, time, and long term changes in the earth's crust, hydrosphere, and atmosphere; 2) environmental models to predict patterns of change in the light of investigation of evidence for ancient environments and Earth History. 3) environmental and economic geology; 4) fossils, formation and preservation, characteristics of the principal groups relating form to function, ecology and evolution; how fossils are used in the correlation of rocks and their value in the interpretation of ancient environments; 5) principles of stratigraphical analysis and the ways in which geological history is reconstructed; 6) interpretation of geological maps; 7) Geological history of Britain and adjacent areas during the past 3500 million years.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

Subject specific intended learning outcomes include:


describe surface process including climatic effects and factors influencing climate, both natural and anthropogenic, and how these change and evolve on short and long time scales;

outline the use of present-day processes to interpret the past;

discuss the importance of fossils in the study of evolution through time and in the reconstruction of ancient environments;

outline the use of fossils for correlation, and other stratigraphical techniques which will aid students in the making of reconstructions of geological history.

interpret the stratigraphical record of the British Isles;

describe the geological structure and history of an area from a study of geological maps, how they are produced, and to draw geological cross sections.

give an account of how geological hazards can be predicted and their effects mitigated, and the role of economic geology.


Key transferable skills

Students would be expected to enhance their skills in:

lecture note taking

essay writing based on lecture notes and independent study

critical judgement through participation in class discussions

making and recording observations in field and laboratory


Students would also acquire skills in map reading and interpretation, and in the application of knowledge in the fields of ecology, anatomy, evolution and climatic studies, useful in the study and practice of related subjects.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.