UCL Earth Sciences

GEOLGG25 Geodynamics & Global Tectonics

GEOLGG25 Geodynamics & Global Tectonics

This MSc provides an introduction to geohazards, research methods and field techniques, together with advanced courses in seismology, volcanology, hydrogeological hazards and meteorology.


The course seeks to present a global perspective of plate tectonics processes, including plate kinematics, the nature

of plate boundaries and the forces that drive those processes. The goals are to understand the geological manifestations
of tectonic processes at the surface and unify them with the processes in the interior that drive the tectonics.


Students will achieve a thorough understanding of plate boundaries, the unique geological and geophysical observations that characterize them. Along with such phenomenology the students will gain a clear picture of plate kinematics and the forces that drive such motions. Along with it, they will also gain an understanding of the energy balance in the Earth and how it relates to convective flow and plate tectonics, stress and strain and the relation to surface deformation and mantle dynamics. 

Students will be able to rotate plates on a sphere, analyze heat flow, gravity, seismic and geological data to understand tectonics and dynamics of the Earth. They will learn to master the necessary software to plot global observations for different map projections and write simple programs to solve geophysical and geological problems. 

The software and numerical skills (Unix, GMT, Matlab) and oral presentation skills are transferable to any area of academic and industrial work. 


Topics will include:

  • Plate Tectonics Historical Perspective
  • Mid-Ocean Ridges
  • Subduction zones
  • Mountain Belts
  • Transform Regions
  • Plate Kinematics
  • Plate Dynamics
  • Stress and Strain
  • Flexure of the Lithosphere
  • Mechanism of Deformation at microscopic and macroscopic scales
  • Interior of the Earth
  • Gravity and Geoid
  • Heat Flow
  • Convective Flow (Fluid dynamics and mantle convection)
  • Earth's evolution
Title Geodynamics & Global Tectonics     
Coordinator Dr Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni
Other Contributors  
Term 1 & 2
Credits 30
Written Exam 40% (unseen two and a half hour exam)
Coursework 40% (ten practicals/problem sheets)
Oral Presentation
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement  
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 300 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 2 hours per week lectures
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 2 hours per week practicals
Hours of Tutorials Optional maths tutorials
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other None
Annual Monitoring download pdf
Categorizing Student Performance Levels download pdf
Moodle page Moodle page