EARTHSCI 203 : Rock and Minerals


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The formation of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, the minerals they contain, and how they can be used to interpret major Earth Science processes such as crustal evolution, volcanism, mountain building, deformation, and sedimentation.

Course Overview

This is a fundamental Stage 2 Earth Science course that gives students training in the laboratory identification of rocks and minerals, and how the processes that formed them can be interpreted. This provides the basic skills needed by geologists and other Earth scientists for investigating geologic problems at and near Earth’s surface, and for resource exploration and use. The practical course is centred on introducing students to the optical microscope and its use in identifying minerals, and describing and explaining rock textures. Rocks are also examined at hand-specimen scale to equip students for field investigation. The theory course covers all major tectonic and environmental processes that are recorded in rocks, and how they are interpreted.  

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103 Restriction: GEOLOGY 203

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and describe the main processes that result in mineral and rock formation, and how they are interpreted in relation to global Earth processes (Capability 1)
  2. Demonstrate practical and analytical research skills based on microscopy of minerals and rocks (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Use the principles and methods of mineral and rock identification to solve geologic problems such as hazard assessment and resource use (Capability 3)
  4. Communicate effectively using appropriate language and present information clearly by recording laboratory observations and interpretations (Capability 4)
  5. Have intellectual curiosity and work autonomously to solve geologic problems and understand Earth processes on local and global scales (Capability 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Test 10% Individual Coursework
Test 6% Individual Test
Test 19% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Highly recommended practical text for laboratory work:
MacKenzies WS, Adams, AE, (2001), A colour atlas of rocks and minerals in thin section. Manson Publishing.
Useful text for igneous rocks and those continuing in this topic:
Gill, R (2010), Igneous rocks and processes: a practical guide. Wiley-Blackwell.
Useful text for sedimentary rocks and those continuing in this topic:
Tucker, ME, (2001), Sedimentary Petrology: an introduction to the origin of sedimentary rocks. (3rd edition).
General texts:
Blatt, H., et al. 2006. Petrology: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. W.H. Freeman & Co., New York
Best, M.G. 2003. Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Blackwell Publishing. (2nd edition)

Special Requirements

Must complete compulsory work (practical and theory); and obtain an overall (cumulative) mark of 50%.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course (120 hours + 30 hours final exam prep), you can expect 30 hours of lectures and 36 hours of practical laboratories. Outside of these formal contact hours, you can expect to spend up to 24 hours of reading and thinking about the content (over 12 weeks); and 30 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation. In addition, you can spend up to 30 hours for final examination preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 20/12/2019 12:48 p.m.