As a member of the biggest grouping of geoscientists in the UK I’m lucky enough to teach on a range of courses across several Earth Science degree programmes.
This is a second year (prehonours) course which is a compulsory part of our Geology, Geology and Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience programmes. In the course we explore the fundamental nature of materials which constitute the Earth and other rocky planets. I teach the first part of the course which includes introductions to crystallography and optics.
Teaching this in 2020/2021 has been a challenge as there is obviously a strong emphasis on hands-on lab work. However, we have been able to use a hybrid approach on video lectures and online tutorials supported by both online and in class lab practicals. The online labs were a challenge, and involved building a microscope web cam (webby, right), but have proved really successful! Webby has also proved useful for online tutorials and for enriching course content generally.
Practical Geochemistry and Data Analysis
This is a third year course for Geology and Environmental Geoscience students and offers a fantastic introduction to modern geochemistry. We cover the usual theory on everything from trace element partitioning and stable isotope fractionation to radiometric dating, which is introduced through a flipped classroom combination of video lectures and in-class tutorials/practicals. Students are also given a crash course in Python, and there is a strong emphasis throughout placed on data analysis.
The second half of the course involves a large group project. Students are given ‘driving lessons’ on various facilities within the School, and collect their own geochemical data. We give tutorials in how to analyse, process and model data, and students prepare a scientific report.
I’m fortunate to jointly lead the 4th year Geology and Geology and Physical Geography fieldtrip to Cyprus (with Alastair Roberston and Dick Kroon). During the 10 day excursion I lead days related to the world famous Troodos ophiolite, and to igneous and ore processes generally, although during the 10 days we cover all aspects of geological and landscape evolution. Definitely one of the highlights of both degrees! The Troodos massif provides amazing insight into crustal-forming processes in an oceanic spreading setting, and may of the sites we visit are truly mind-blowing.
Frontiers in Research
This 4th year course makes use of the large number of research seminars we have within the School. Students attend a selection of seminars and, as part of a science communication exercise, produce research posters. These are presented as part of a mini-conference style event. Later in the year we also run an Enterprise Initiative event, where groups work on an industrial case study led by industry professionals. The course provides, therefore, training in distilling and presenting information in both academic and industrial/professional settings.