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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE2010 Chemistry of the Earth

10 creditsClass Size: 110

Module manager: Dr Christian Maerz

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

Either A-level Chemistry or a suitable level 1 Chemistry module
(eg. SOEE1131)

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

An introduction to chemical processes in the Earth in terms of the geochemical cycles affecting the atmosphere, surface waters and sediments; its overall composition; and its origin and chemical evolution. Topics covered include: Geochemical cycles in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere (including the carbon cycle); Box modelling of geochemical cycles; Chemical processes occurring during the major geochemical cycles and how these effect the atmosphere, surface waters, sediments and deep earth fluids; Principles of radiogenic and stable isotopes as geochemical tracers, geochronology; Earth and solar system chemical evolution.This module is taught in semester 1 through lectures with some paper based practicals, and is assessed via two online VLE MCQ tests and a one and a half hour final examination.


On completion of this module, students will have developed an understanding of the chemical processes which influence our environment and have influenced the evolution of the Earth over time, and an appreciation of the methods by which this knowledge has been obtained.

This module will consider the chemical behaviour in and between gases, aqueous solutions, solids and melts, and how chemical processes involving these components have operated on timescales from a human lifetime to the age of the solar system. Students will also learn how the 'earth-air-water factory' operates at present and to set this in the context of long-term geochemical evolution over the 4.5 Ga of Earth history.


Geochemical cycles overall including the oxygen, water and carbon dioxide cycles;
Chemical processes in geochemical cycles;
Chemistry of surface waters;
Chemistry of deep Earth fluids;
Radiogenic isotopes;
Isotope tracers;
Stable isotopes in geochemistry;
Earth and planetary evolution;
Chemical evolution of the Earth.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Drop-in Session21.002.00
Private study hours75.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students will be expected to undertake reading after each lecture, based on handouts and reading lists that will be given out. Students will also be expected to engage with weekly worksheets that will be available on the VLE. General reading and revision is also expected.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Coursework Assessment type
In-course Assessment
VLE-based MCQ assessment

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentVLE-based MCQ assessment20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam48 hr 80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:46:33


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