UCL Module Catalogue


Structural Geology and Tectonics (GEOL0016)

Key information

Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Teaching department
Earth Sciences
Credit value
First year Earth Sciences modules are a prerequisite for this module.

Alternative credit options

There are no alternative credit options available for this module.


This course introduces the basic concepts of brittle and ductile deformation processes and how they control the strength, mechanical behaviour and development of structures in the Earth's continental crust and lithosphere. Students will develop a basic understanding of the forces driving deformation, and the displacements and strains associated with simple crustal deformations. The course then further develops a more advanced understanding of deformation processes and structures produced by displacement and deformation in the Earth's lithosphere at scales ranging from the tectonic plate scale, down to the crystal lattice scale.

By the end of the course, students should:

  • Recognize structures produced by simple crustal deformation;
  • Quantitatively describe the geometry of structures in folded and faulted regions;
  • Understanding of stress and strain analysis of the Earth and the deformation response of Earth materials to applied stresses;
  • Knowledge of the techniques of structural synthesis, and an ability to apply these techniques in field surveys;
  • Interpret the relative timing of formation of structures, the kinematics of deformation, and the progressive deformation histories in a variety of deformed continental regimes;
  • Recognize and interpret the geological structure of deformed continental regimes, from mildly deformed upper crustal regimes to complexly deformed, deeper crustal regimes;
  • Interpret the geometry of simple structures (folds, faults, fractures, veins and shear zones) in terms of the stress regimes that produced them, and the displacements and strains associated with their development;
  • Explain how the types of deformation processes and the styles and geometries of structures produced during continental deformation are influenced by the intensity of deformation, and by the depth and temperature of their formation in the Earth's crust;
  • Interpret stress regimes and fluid pressure histories during continental deformation

First year Earth Sciences modules are a prerequisite for this module.

Module deliveries for 2020/21 academic year

Intended teaching term: Term 1     Undergraduate (FHEQ Level 5)

Teaching and assessment

Mode of study
Methods of assessment
80% Unseen two and a half hour written examination
20% Two pieces of coursework, 2,000 words or equivalent in numerical analysis (10% each)
Mark scheme
Numeric Marks

The methods of assessment for affiliate students may be different to those indicated above. Please contact the department for more information.

Other information

Number of students on module in previous year
Module leader
Dr Tom Mitchell
Who to contact for more information

Last updated

This module description was last updated on 5th March 2020.