Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Earth System History

Earth System History

Roy E. Plotnick

University of Illinois at Chicago
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


Upper level (advanced undergraduates, graduate students) course on the history of the Earth system. Includes methods in stratigraphy, paleogeography, and geochronology. Lectures and seminar discussions of the primary literature.

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level, College Lower (13-14)
Course Type: Intro Level:Earth System Science
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper level course with prerequisites of at least some advance course work in Earth science. Not a pre-requisite for other courses. Can be applied to the major, but not currently required. Students include both majors and graduate students.

Course Goals:

After completing this course, students will be able to:
1. Describe the methods used to establish the relative and absolute ages of geologic events, including their correlation;
2. Understand the techniques used to reconstruct ancient geographies and environments;
3. Apply this knowledge to analyzing the primary literature of Earth system history; and
4. Explain the key events of Earth history in the context of the interactions of the components of the Earth system;
5. Place current changes in the Earth system, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, in their historic perspective.

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

Students read and intensively discuss relevant papers in the primary literature. Lectures provide background and context.


Participation in seminar discussions. Term paper.


Syllabus - Earth System History (Acrobat (PDF) 24kB May4 12)

Readings and Prompts (Acrobat (PDF) 48kB May4 12)