UCL Earth Sciences


GEOL0006 Surface Processes

This module demonstrates the immensity of surface processes and resulting changes on Earth and other planets through geological time.

Coordinator: Dr Alex Clarke

Module details
TitleSurface Processes     
UG CodeGEOL0006
CoordinatorDr Alex Clarke
Other Contributors 
Credit15 credits
Written Exam 
CourseworkMoodle Quizzes    50%
Coursework    30%
Dorset field trip notebook    20%
Maths & Stats Content and RequirementNone
Total Number of Hours of Student Work188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem ClassesAs needed.
Hours of Tutorials0
Days of Fieldwork7 days of fieldwork
OtherIf students from outside Earth Sciences or Natural Sciences wish to take this course, they should contact either the Departmental Tutor or the Course Organiser (Prof Juergen Thurow) BEFORE registering on Portico. Students from other departments should be aware that they or their department are liable for the student contribution towards the cost of this trip.

Topics studied in lectures and during fieldwork include:

  • Weathering, sediment transport, etc.
  • Classification of sediments (texture, composition, sedimentary structures);
  • Siliciclastics, evaporates;
  • Carbonates, phosphates, siliceous & organic-rich sediments;
  • The geology of running water and groundwater;
  • Oceans and coasts;
  • Earth’s atmosphere and climate;
  • The geology of deserts;
  • Glaciers and Ice ages;
  • Terrestrial environments;
  • Global Change in the Earth System.


To demonstrate the immensity of surface and near-surface processes and resulting changes on Earth through geological time. Students will learn: processes and problems at Earth’s surface and near-surface realms, details of surface processes and the resulting products, with an emphasis on spatial distribution and the interrelationship of the various processes shaping the surface. The course provides a systematic description of commonly-occurring sedimentary rocks.

Practical classes and a fieldtrip will be used to demonstrate surface processes in action through time and to teach the identification and application of common sedimentary rocks and structures in the field, in hand specimen and graphic logs.


An understanding of:

  • surface and near-surface processes and products;
  • the systematic classification of sediments and the ability to identify common sedimentary rocks and structures in the field, in hand specimen and in graphic logs;
  • global change through time.