Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Metamorphic and Structural Geology EARTH4073

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 30
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

An understanding of the formation and interpretation of metamorphic and deformed rocks with associated field techniques.


Four classes per week for 3 weeks (1 hr lecture and 2 hr lab per class - held as workshops). 1 week residential UK-based field class.

Two local one day field classes

Requirements of Entry

Normally completion of all credit-bearing courses from Earth Science Level 2 at an average Grade C3 or better, achieving at least a Grade of D3 in each individual course and attendance at the residential field class.

Excluded Courses

EARTH4017 - Metamorphic Petrology

EARTH4025 - Structural Geology


Written exam (50%); integrated practical exercise (25%); portfolio of field based activities(25%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

To develop students' understanding of structural and metamorphic processes and the response of rocks to changing P-T conditions and deformation. To develop skill sets to independently interpret the geometries, kinematics, mechanics and mechanisms of deformed, fractured and faulted rocks in the field. Residential field class focuses on advanced field mapping techniques and their application to problems, such as the location of resources and rock failure.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify parent rock types, estimate metamorphic conditions and assess the cause of metamorphism for a variety of metamorphic rocks.

■ Interpret rock textures to assess deformation mechanisms, shear sense indicators and mineral reactions 

■ Interpret metamorphic phase diagrams and explain their significance to petrology.

■ Explain the role of fluids in metamorphic reactions and their influence on deformation mechanisms.

■ Critically discuss the structural and metamorphic characteristics of a range of tectonic environments, the determination of the ages of such tectono-thermal events, and associated variations in metamorphic grade.

■ Critically apply a wide range of skills that enable the use of structures in the field to quantify tectono-metamorphic relations and faulting during mapping.

■ Discuss three-dimensional stress geometries and apply failure criteria to critically evaluate the stability of rock masses.  

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.