Earth Science - ESC1000

James Wysong
Hillsborough Community College - Tampa, Florida


ESC1000 - Earth Science, is an introductory-level survey course covering the earth sciences. Physical geology represents about 60% of the course content, with meteorology/climatology and physical oceanography contributing most of the balance. A small astronomy component is also featured, primarily to place the Earth in context within the Solar System. As one of only two required science courses in the general education curriculum (one physical science and one biological science), there is a further mandate to include a broad coverage of general physical science concepts in the treatment of the specific course material.

Course URL:
Course Size:
25-35 students per section

Course Format:
Lecture/discussion class with separate one credit hour lab

Institution Type:
Two Year Public Community College

Course Context:

This is a one-semester course for non-science majors, which fulfills the General Education physical science requirement for the A.A. degree. The course prerequisites include college level mathematics skills (defined as being at or above the level of college algebra) and college level reading and writing skills (defined as testing above the cut-off for preparatory courses). As a result of the prerequisites, most of the students enrolled in ESC1000 are in their last year at the college. The typical student enrolled in ESC1000 is not intending to major in science. About 20% of the students intend to be education majors - most are self identified as liberal arts/general studies students.

Course Content:

(What follows is our college-wide course objectives for ESC1000)

By its nature, the Earth Science curriculum addresses a broad and voluminous body of subject matter. The Sciences of Geology, Astronomy, Meteorology and Oceanography are all included within the purview of Earth Science. Consequently, the following objectives will be included in the overall curriculum but may be weighted to varying degrees in individual course sections.

1. Describe the scientific method.

2. Define what a mineral is and discuss the importance of minerals in geology.

3. Discuss the origin and classification of rocks and explain the rock cycle.

4. Identify and explain the processes acting at the earth's surface that create and shape landforms.

5. Summarize the causes and effects of earthquakes and diagram the earth's interior structure.

6. Describe and discuss intrusive and extrusive igneous processes and features.

7. Discuss the theory of plate tectonics.

8.Describe the significance of geologic time, state the age of the earth, and explain relative and chronological dating methods.

9. Discuss global concepts such as locating positions on the earth, e.g. latitude and longitude, the earth's orbit around the sun, and seasonal variations.

10. Discuss the composition and circulation of earth's oceans and the geology of the seafloor.

11. Describe the composition, structure and circulation of the earth's atmosphere.

12. Describe and discuss the various weather elements such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, wind, clouds and precipitation.

13.List and describe the components of our solar system and discuss its origin.

14. Describe the universe beyond our solar system and discuss current ideas about its age and origin


Five exams will be administered during the semester. The lowest exam score from exams 1-4 will not be averaged into the final course point total.

Exams 1-4 will consist of 50 questions valued at 2 points each for a total of 100 points per exam.

Exam 5 (the final) will be in two parts, together worth 100 points. The first part of exam 5 will consist of 30 questions from the first three exams. Part two will consist of 20 questions presented in the form of a map quiz (see Geographic Locations Project information attached to this syllabus and also available at:


References and Notes:

Earth Science 12th Ed, by Tarbuck and Lutgens