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GEOL1015 Geology of Planetary Bodies



This course is designed to introduce students to the geological histories, and geological processes, of other planets, and to illustrate how this knowledge has led to our current understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System.


Knowledge and Understanding:

  • basic geology and geophysics of the other planets;
  • various techniques used to acquire geological knowledge of other planets;
  • how a comparison of the geologies of the different planets informs our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System as a whole;
  • development of an ability to transfer geological knowledge gained in the context of the Earth to wide range of different planetary environments.

Practical and Transferable Outcomes:

  • a wider understanding of how scientific hypotheses are developed and tested
  • developing writing skills as a means of effective communication of scientific information
  • comprehension of scientific data and papers, IT skills.


Topics studied will include:

  • introduction and techniques of planetary exploration;
  • impact cratering as a geological process;
  • lunar geology: dating and stratigraphy; rocks and minerals; orbital remote sensing and geophysics;
  • geology of Mars: rocks; dating; stratigraphy and water;
  • geology of Mercury and Venus;
  • asteroids, meteorites and comets;
  • giant planet satellites.
Title Geology of Planetary Bodies
UG Code GEOL1015
Coordinator Dr. Dominic Fortes
Other Contributors  
Term 1
Credit 0.5 CU
Written Exam 60%
Coursework A series of weekly essays (30%), and one term-long written project (10%)
Pre-Requisites Students who are not on the Earth Sciences or Natural Sciences degree programmes should normally have A level Physics.
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement Basic GSCE (or equivalent) arithmetic, algebraic and trigonometry skills.
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 20 hours
Hours of Tutorials 0
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other None

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