Online course

The Earth in My Pocket: an Introduction to Geology

Get an introduction to geology. Discover where materials that make up everyday objects come from and how to use them sustainably.

The Earth in My Pocket: an Introduction to Geology

Get an introduction to geological processes

Everything we use that has not been grown either contains or relies on materials that have been sourced by a geologist.

On this online course, you will discover the link between volcanoes and your mobile phone, or why tiny marine wildlife is at the core of the plastics industry.

You will explore basic geological processes, focusing on how, where and why different rocks and natural resources form across the Earth.

You will also look at some of the environmental and sustainability considerations that geologists need to take into account when extracting and processing these resources.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Identifying igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks
  • The rock cycle
  • Plate tectonics
  • Sources of metals and some of their uses in everyday life
  • The origins, exploration and uses of oil
  • Environmental impacts of using the Earth’s resources
  • Some methods of mitigating environmental issues

When would you like to start?

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify different igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
  • Assess and understand the origin, occurrence and availability of some natural physical resources associated with metals, oil and building stones.
  • Apply and use numerical and graphical methods to interpret quantities and concentrations of different natural resources.
  • Describe and appreciate societal and environmental issues associated with the sustainability of the Earth’s physical resources.

Who is the course for?

The course is open to anyone with an interest in geology and the natural environment. It will be particularly useful for anyone considering an environmental science degree course or teachers who are looking for additional geology and geography resources to use in the classroom.

You will need a camera capable of taking a digital photo – a smart phone is fine. You will also need a Flickr account – this is free and easy to use.

Who will you learn with?

Anne Jay

I'm a lecturer in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Open University. I research a type of volcano called large igneous provinces.

Marcus Badger

I am a Lecturer in Earth Sciences at the Open University. I use organic molecules preserved in rocks to study the past 66 million years of the Earth's carbon cycle and climate.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

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