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School of Environment, Education and Development

BSc Geography and Geology with a year abroad / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Planet Earth: Its Climate, History and Processes

Unit code EART10111
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The aim is to explain in outline how the Earth system works, so that you will have a foundation for the other courses you will do in the first year. No pre-knowledge of Earth Science is assumed, just an interest in the subject



Summary of Lecture Content

Grotzinger and Jordan (GJ) is the required course text. In-class lecture notes will be

provided by the instructor for some lectures. Videos will be available on Blackboard.


Week 1:

Lecture 1: Introduction, climate system, geologic time

GJ: Chapter 1 and 15.1

Videos: Rocks, radiometric dating, age of Earth


Lecture 2: The Hadean

GJ: Chapter 9

Video: Stratigraphy


Week 2:

Lecture 3: Plate tectonics and magnetic field

GJ: Chapter 2

Video: Magnetism


Lecture 4: Flake versus plate tectonics

GJ: Chapters 10 and 14

Video: Earthquakes


Week 3:

Lecture 5: Magma formation

GJ: Chapters 10 and 14


Lecture 6: Earth’s interior

GJ: Chapter 13 and 14


Week 4:

Lecture 7: Supercontinent cycle

GJ: Chapter 10


Lecture 8: Building Earth’s climate

Lecture notes

Video: Build Your Own Earth


Week 5:

Lecture 9: Understanding past climates

GJ: Chapter 8


Lecture 10: TEST #1




Week 7:

Lecture 11: Origin of atmosphere and hydrosphere

Lecture notes

Video: Atmospheric composition


            Lecture 12: Hydrosphere and cryosphere

Lecture notes


Week 8:

Lecture 13: The atmosphere

Lecture notes

Videos: Atmosphere structure and dynamics


Lecture 14: Feedbacks within the climate system

Lecture notes


Week 9:

Lecture 15: The Archean

GJ: Chapter 11


Lecture 16: How evolution works

GJ: Chapter 11

Video: Fossils


Week 10:

Lecture 17: Great Oxygenation Event and metazoan evolution

GJ: Chapter 11

Videos: Colonization of land


Lecture 18: Mass extinctions

GJ: Chapter 11


Week 11:

Lecture 19: The Cenozoic

GJ: Chapter 15


Lecture 20: TEST #2

Assessment methods

Assessment:     There are 4 assessments:1. Two in-class tests (45 minutes): one in mid semester and one at the end of the semester (30% each).2. A Build Your Own Earth ( assignment for you to work on in your own time (30%).3. Museum Scavenger Hunt, in which you will be expected to track down information from the Manchester Museum, right across the street. This will be done in your own time (10%).


Recommended reading

Recommended Texts:

You will be expected to read around the subject using the lecture content as your guide. There are many texbooks on this subject, but the recommended one is Understanding Earth, any edition 5 or higher, by J. Grotzinger and T. Jordan. It is also very easy to track down information on this topic from the web. Remember, you are responsible for your own learning.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Schultz Unit coordinator

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