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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael D Harrell
ESS 101
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Geological Sciences

Survey of the physical systems that give the earth its form. Emphasizes the dynamic nature of interior and surface processes and their relevance to mankind and stresses the value of rocks and earth forms in the understanding of past events. A course with laboratory for non-science majors. Not open for credit to students who have taken ESS 105, or ESS 210. Field trips. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

Rocks. This course covers rocks. The activities of this planet can be identified and understood in large part through its rocks: what they are, how they are arranged, where they are found; we will use the rocks for information. The spatial and temporal scales will encompass everything from Earth's setting in the solar system down to subatomic particles, and from the age of the universe down to tiny fractions of a second, but mostly it comes back to the rocks and what we can learn from them.

Student learning goals

Gain an understanding and appreciation of processes which shape Earth and similar planets.

Develop an ability to identify and interpret rock compositions and textures as clues to Earth's past, present, and future.

Similarly, learn to identify and interpret large-scale geologic structures and features from maps, photos, and (optionally) field excursions.

Recognize the extent to which this planet, in various ways, underlies and influences human civilization and existence.

General method of instruction

Lectures, weekly laboratory sessions (labs do not meet the first week), and optional, extra-credit one-day field trips on the weekends to various geologic destinations throughout western Washington.

Recommended preparation

This course is intended as an introduction, so there are no specific prerequisites and no particular background is assumed.

Class assignments and grading

Aside from the midterm and final exams, the only assignments are the laboratory exercises. The laboratory sessions are essential to the course, in that they present opportunities to examine, characterize, and gain insight into geological materials, landforms, and processes. All materials will be provided (except a pencil and a copy of the manual), and you are encouraged to work in groups.

The course grade will be derived as follows: 50% from the laboratory exercises, 25% midterm exam, and 25% final exam. The exams will be multiple-choice. Grades will be in accordance with UW guidelines, as described here: www.washington.edu/students/gencat/front/Grading_Sys.html


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Michael D Harrell
Date: 03/24/2008