Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > Physical Geology

Physical Geology

Karen Koy,
Missouri Western State University


A non-majors service course, ESC 111 is a survey of earth science topics from mineralogy to hydrology to climatology. The linked lab allows the students to actively explore topics in lecture in a hands-on way.

Course Type:
Entry Level Physical Geology

Course Size:

Course Format:
Students enroll in one course that includes both lecture and lab. The lecture and the lab are both taught by the professor.

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

Separate majors/non-majors introductory courses:

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? yes
There is no Earth Science major. I am in the biology department, and there are separate into courses for bio students. the major courses are very different, teaching methods, while the non-majors courses are surveys.

If students take a "non-majors" course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course? yes
This is an introductory non-majors course, serving the general education requirements for the student body. The so majority (95%+) take this course because they think it is an easy way to fulfill science credits. It is only required for science education majors. Our campus is open enrollment, and this class has no prerequisites, so many of students lack adequate reading, writing, math and studying skills.

Course Content:

The class focuses on geology & hydrology, also touching paleontology, paleoclimatology and climatology. The students learn basic geologic skills & concepts (rock/mineral identification) as well as more specific concepts (global warming, geomorphology).

Course Goals:

Students should be able to understand basic concepts and processes, including how different physical forces shape the landscape & the interactions of multiple Earth systems.

Course Features:

Lab which closely follows & illustrates concepts in lecture.

Course Philosophy:

This is the design this course has had since the school was founded I have made sure topics in lab follow the lectures closely to aid student learning.


4 lecture exams & one cumulative lab exam.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 54kB Apr11 10)

References and Notes:

Marshak: Essentials of Geology (cheapest & had ebook option)

SERC website & sessions at national & regional meetings

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