General Geology

Julia Baldwin
, University of Montana


What are minerals? How do rocks form? Can rocks bend? How do we know the age of rocks? This course will explore these questions through a study of the fundamentals of earth processes and materials.

Course Type: Intro Level Earth Science
Course Size:
greater than 150

Course Format:
Students enroll in separate lecture and lab components. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites that satisfies a general education requirement. There is a separate but optional laboratory course that students can choose to enroll in. The vast majority of the students (>95%) are non-majors.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? no

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? no

Course Content:

This is a basic physical geology course. Topics covered include plate tectonics, minerals, rocks, geologic structures, geologic time, and surface processes. It is a large lecture course with >200 students, so there are not any field experiences included as part of this course.

Course Goals:

  • Students will understand the geological processes responsible for shaping the earth.
  • Students will be able to interpret geologic observations and make interpretations of the geologic history of a region.
  • Students will understand the processes that build and destroy mountain belts, processes that create new rocks and minerals, and how these processes have operated through geologic time.

Course Features:

Interactive lectures using iclickers.

Course Philosophy:

It works well for large lecture courses where it becomes more difficult to include individualized assignments.


Exams, iclicker participation and quizes


Syllabus (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 65kB Jul8 08)

References and Notes:

Course text: Essentials of Geology, Stephen Marshak
It's well-written and concise in covering the topics I'm interested in. Students enjoy it and there is good ancillary support.
We use the NAGT Lab Manual, which is well-written with good exercises and graphics.