My University Courses Part 1: Earth Dynamics


Within my blog I shall start two series: One concerning the subjects I took and currently studying. The other, a travel series where I will talk about the places I visited in Scotland and found them interesting. Onto the main part…

Earth Dynamics

This is a great introductory course for general Geology. It introduces you to most of the general ideas and sub-subjects that are important such as Plate Tectonics, Earth Physics (Basically Seismology), Petrology, Field Trip Techniques, Specimen description, specimen classification and countless more. Earth Dynamics is a great Earth Science course that combined with ELE lays a good foundation to understand how the planet Earth works.

Field-trip to Pease Bay

I would break the course down into three parts: Lectures, Laboratory work and Field-trips.

The Lectures:

I found the lectures engaging and wide ranging. They provided a taster of each sub discipline while introducing us to the different lecturers of the department. Each lecture was well planned with PowerPoints rich in presentation, videos and information. The lectures were well linked with the lab practicals and the field trips allowing us to link the material together. I would like to give a shout out to Dr Linda Kirstein who organized the course and whose lectures I personally personally enjoyed the most.

One of the lecture slides

The Laboratory Work:

The lab work was the crown jewel of the course. It allowed us to work with authentic specimens and prove chemical and physical concepts in the lab. They allowed us to play around with the petrological microscopes, providing us with a glimpse into the microscopic world of rocks. So all around, I only have pure praise towards the lab work part of the course.

Hand Specimens from the Labs

At the beginning of the semester we learnt about the general makeup of the crust and measured the density of minerals representing the main sections. We started to look at a wide variety of different hand specimens. We learnt about sketching techniques and how to describe/analyse them scientifically. In the middle of the semester we moved onto thin-sections and the Petrological Microscope. We studied the thin sections of the 3 main rock groups: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Our task was to link some of them to the field trips and sketch them in PPL and XPL light providing general information such as birefringence, type of fractures on the crystals, shape of the crystals and many more defining qualities. After spending a great deal of time with rock specimens we moved onto Seismology and how it is related to faulting. We learnt a great deal about Earthquakes and faulting. In the lab we studied real examples as we looked at rock specimens that were faulted or were from fault zones. At the end of the semester we linked everything together allowing us to understand how our planet acts as a single unit where one force influences the other.

Rock Samples on the worktop


At last but not at least the field trips. They were okay, not as exciting as the lecturers sold it to us but they were very educational providing us with great base knowledge. We visited 3 localities with the course: Pease Bay, Siccar Point and Arthur’s Seat. In Pease Bay we looked at sedimentary deposition, sedimentary formations and cross bedding. The supervisors showed us how to use our geological kit effectively and keep a proper field notebook. At Siccar Point we visited Hutton’s Unconformity learning about marine deposition such as turbidity currents and looked at the effects of light metamorphism. At Arthur’s Seat our main goal was to study volcanism, igneous deposition and volcanic dykes. The Arthur’s Seat trip was the best out of all 3 as I was not rushed all. The trip allowed me to appreciate the vastness of the geological forces and see the depth of geological time. While Geology is a hard natural science, where empiricism is extremely important many lecturers fail to sprinkle a bit of romanticism into the subject. For instance in the field trip it was mentioned that Arthur’s Seat erupted at the equator and moved up to Scotland. That was it, dry and cold. I think the lecturer should have pointed out how wonderful it is that we witnessed nature literary move a volcano half the planet demolishing mighty mountains, opening and closing oceans. How a long time ago the place we stand at might have been a beautiful tropical beach with palm trees and blue oceans and how by just giving a bit of time plus the raw laws of the universe we are standing in the cold rain, in the Temperate Zone in a middle of a city named Edinburgh staring back into the vastness of time. Outside of being rushed the through the field trips the localities were great, well-chosen with good memorable sites.

The Siccar Point trip

Overall I enjoyed this course. Great lecturers, great topics and useful ideas.

Social Media:

You can reach me at:









National Geographic Photos:


What was happening at the Old Library?

If you walked passed the Old Library in Drummond Street on Monday the 17th of February you would have seen something you might not expect in a university setting….

Twelve students were namely busy ‘speed-dating’ with each other! The only clue that this event was not meant to take place on Valentine’s day was the the sight of participants taking notes during their conversations. If you then walked inside the Old Library, you would have wondered what was meant by the fact that every eight minutes the organiser loudly stated ‘Feedback reminder!’ If this had grabbed your attention, and you had listened more closely to one of the conversations, it might then have struck you what this event was all about. Since you probably would have heard fragments of students talking about ‘new animal relationship through the interspecies internet’, ‘the implications of ICT based agricultural extension services for rural farmers in the Global South’, ‘the role of Fair Trade certification in Ghana’ or ‘health geographies and outdoor education in Scotland’!

 Indeed, this is speed-dating with academic content! In short, this ‘academic speed dating’, as I named it, was an opportunity for participants to present their own research and to get feedback from three different speed-dating partners. Let me clarify this with an example of two imaginary participants: Susan and Joe. During the first round Susan would present her research to Joe. She can decide herself which part of the research she wants to present. After eight minutes they hear the organiser loudly stating ‘feedback reminder!’. Now it is up to Joe to give feedback about the research Susan intends to do. He writes his feedback on a post-it and gives it to Susan. After two minutes they hear ‘Switch roles!’. The same process is now carried out, but then Joe is the presenter and Susan gives feedback. After this first round is finished, every participant moves one place to his or her right in order to hear new ideas and to receive different feedback from another participant.

Since a video says more than a thousand words (!), check out this film to get a real life impression of the event.

I hope this event has inspired the participants with new insights for their research. And who knows, maybe it will come to a point when lecturers will organise this as part of their classes in order to help you to make progress with your course paper or dissertation.

Here’s to interactive and innovative ways of learning!


* Please note that clicking on the above video will play an official School of GeoSciences video that is hosted on YouTube. A cookie may be installed in your browser by YouTube.

Have your say! Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)

The University values your opinions and uses them to help us implement the changes you, our students would like to see made. Each year, you are invited to take part in the PTES which rates universities across the UK in terms of student course and learning experiences.

Last year The School of GeoSciences had some of the best PTES results in the College of Science and Engineering – we’d love to grow on these for 203/14.  Continue reading “Have your say! Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)”

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: