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 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.