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School of Environment, Education and Development

BSc Geography and Geology with a year abroad

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Global Tectonics

Unit code EART20101
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Global tectonics will provide an understanding of plate tectonic processes that underpin the interpretation of the geological record.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Planet Earth EART10111 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
British Stratigraphy / Geological Maps EART10122 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


To examine Plate Tectonic processes at an intermediate level, building upon the grounding provided by the GY1111 Planet Earth module. To examine the development of orogenic belts and sedimentary basins in a plate-tectonics context.

Learning outcomes

Students will have:

  • An understanding of the internal structure of the Earth, the theory of Plate Tectonics and its supporting evidence.
  • A detailed understanding of tectonic and related processes during continental collision.
  • At end of course you will also through classwork have gained practical experience of approaches used in the analysis of physical processes in plate tectonics.


The lecture material covers the following main topics:

1. Interior of the Earth

2. Structure and Petrology of the Crust

3. The basic concept of Plate Tectonics

4. The Evidence for Plate Tectonics â€' Continental Drift

5. Sea Floor Spreading â€' the link between Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics

6. Oceanic Spreading Centres - Topography and Bathymetry

7. How Strong is the Lithosphere?

8. Destructive Margins

9. Isostacy and Lithospheric Flexure

10. Basin Formation

11. Mountain Building

12. Mechanisms of Plate Tectonics

There are also a number of practicals

1. Global Tectonics Pub Quiz

2. Plate Motions on a Sphere

3. Strength of the Lithosphere

4. Oceanic Heat Flow

5. Basins and Isostasy

6. Mountain Building

Assessment methods


There will be 3 online quizzes in weeks 4, 7 and 11 of the semester. These will make up 20% of the final mark.

The final exam is a 2.5 hour short answer paper. Example questions can be seen on the Blackboard site for this course. The exam will count for 80% of the final mark.

Feedback on students progress will be given in the practical classes.

Feedback methods

Feedback on students progress will be given in the practical classes.

Recommended reading

A fairly comprehensive course booklet will be provided. The course materials provided do not obviate the need for a substantial amount of background reading, for this course carries a large amount of factual content. The classwork exercises are essential complements to the lecture content to enhance understanding.

The textbooks on global tectonics by Kearey, Kleipis & Vine; and on Basin analysis by Allen & Allen should be used. Fowler's book on solid earth geophysics is also very good. A certain amount of the material covered is not yet to be found in textbooks. Enter appropriate search terms into Google to find more about these topics.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Practical classes & workshops 16
Independent study hours
Independent study 73

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Julian Mecklenburgh Unit coordinator

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