Principles of Geomorphology

Mark Sweeney

University of South Dakota
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


Geomorphology is the study of landforms and the processes involved in their creation and evolution through time. Climatic and tectonic controls on landform evolution will be emphasized in this class.

Course URL:
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division elective course for Earth Science majors with a prerequisite of introductory geology. Field trips are required. There is no lab component.

Course Goals:

1) understand the processes that build and transform landscapes, 2) identify landforms in the field and on imagery, 3) map landforms in the field and using imagery.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Weekly homework and lecture helped to reinforce goal 1. Exam assessment showed this goal was met somewhat successfully. Goal 2 was reinforced with weekly homework and was successful for imagery, no so much for the field. The same can be said for goal 3. Limited time was spent in the field to teach mapping techniques. This goal was over ambitious for this class.

Skills Goals

I emphasized improvement in student writing (via homework write-up and a term paper) and in quantatative abilities via homework assignments.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

With the limited prerequisites, most students lacked the ability to write scientifically, and I did not spend enough time compared to other classes to teach students specific writing skills. Quanatative abilities were only applied to homework, not exam, so I can't comment on how well that goal was achieved.


Homework assignments and exams that included short answer and essay.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 49kB May7 08)