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Earth Composition, Minerals and Magmas (GEOL20003)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeGEOL20003
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject will provide an understanding of the composition of the Earth in space and time. The first part of this subject will investigate the composition of the Earth on accretion and its differentiation into core, mantle and crust. This will be followed by an investigation of the minerals and rocks that make up the mantle and the crust, what these minerals and rocks are made of, how minerals and rocks form, and what information these provide about how the Earth works. These questions are central to the science of Geology and will be addressed using field observations and measurements, and examination of minerals, rocks and petrographic thin-sections in the laboratory. Our ability to answer geological questions invariably requires such observations to underpin any final interpretations we make. This subject introduces a wide range of new minerals from igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and provides knowledge and practice to aid in their identification in both hand-specimen and thin-section. An important focus of the subject is the link between the chemical composition of mantle and crustal magmas and the minerals they crystallise (i.e., igneous rocks). Students will learn to appreciate that magma chemistry and the mineralogy of igneous rocks (i.e., once the magmas have cooled and crystallised) are directly related to each other. Thus, if we can identify the minerals present in an igneous rock, we already know a great deal about its composition (and therefore the processes by which it formed).

Intended learning outcomes

This subject builds upon some skills that students have already developed in first year (e.g., the identification of rocks and minerals in hand-specimen). In this subject, these skills will be developed and augmented through the examination of rocks and minerals in thin-section. Although much of this subject deals with igneous rocks, the minerals that students will be required to identify include others formed in metamorphic and sedimentary environments. Thus, many of the techniques learned here will apply to a broad range of geological situations. For those students wishing to pursue their study of Geology, other second-year subjects and almost all third-year subjects will use or build upon the information gained here. It needs to be understood that the identification of rocks and minerals is usually a means to an end, and only seldom an end in itself. Before we can proceed to use more sophisticated methods of unravelling Earth processes however, a solid background is required in understanding the fundamental insights that can be provided by careful observations of rocks and minerals

Generic skills

In addition to learning specific information, this subject will help students to develop their ability to synthesize data and interpret observations. The ability to apply analytical skills will also allow students to tackle the description and identification of unfamiliar samples. Opportunities will be provided for students to work with other students during laboratory, field and tutorial classes, but students will need to manage their own time effectively in order to complete tasks in preparation for ongoing assessment and the end of semester examinations.

Eligibility and requirements


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
ERTH10002 Understanding Planet Earth
Semester 2



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

VCE Chemistry is desirable.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Portfolio assignments totalling no more than 4,000 words (10%),
  • 4 tests/quizzes (3 x 30mins, 1 x 60mins) each worth 5% (20%),
  • Field trip attendance (5%),
  • A 2-hour practical examination held towards the end of semester (25%);
  • A 2-hour written examination in the examination period (40%).

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    CoordinatorsDavid Phillips and Eleanor Green
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours2 x one hour lectures per week; 1 x two hour practical class per week; 3.5 days of field work (held on weekends throughout the semester).
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

Time commitment details

Estimated total time commitment of 170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts


  • Subject notes

    This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

    Previously known as 625-222 Minerals and Magmas (prior to 2009)

    Special Requirements: Geological hammer, hand lens and magnet. Students should consult the Earth Sciences web site for dates, charges for excursions, accommodation and food and other information including safety requirements.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 10 August 2019