GEO368 Planetary Geoscience

Level 3
Credits 20
Availability Approved for BA Geography; BSc Geography; Environmental Mathematics; Environmental Science; BSc Archaeology/Geography
Semester Autumn
Prerequisite GEO206 or GEO232 or GEO233 or GEO234
Description This module introduces the student to the fascinating discipline of planetary geoscience and exploration. By using the principles of Physical Geography to study unfamiliar environments, we will explore problems that touch upon themes from climate, tectonics, geomorphology, hydrology, and life. The module begins with the Solar System but soon focuses on planetary-scale matters, using the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) as main examples because of an explosion of knowledge gathered from their observation. We will consider the new perspectives which such knowledge offers on the Earth's dynamic systems.
  1. Introduce the fundamental elements of solar system science
  2. Show how a physical-systems approach has been applied to other planetary contexts beyond Earth
  3. Illustrate how comparative studies widen and enrich our perspective on geoscience
Learning Outcomes By the end of the module, a student will be able to demonstrate:
  1. An understanding of historical and current issues of planetary geoscience and exploration
  2. A core knowledge of planetary environments and of factors influencing their development
  3. An ability to use this knowledge to engage with research problems in this discipline
  4. An appreciation of the importance of multi-disciplinary investigations in pushing forward frontiers of knowledge
Outline Contents
  1. Solar System: Origin and components
  2. Comparative planetology
  3. Planetary climates
  4. Surface and interior processes
  5. Close encounters: the Moon, Venus, Mars
  6. Volcanism
  7. Life in the Solar System
  8. Planetary exploration
Delivery Methods Lectures, directed reading, student seminars & presentations
Student Contact Hours

26 hours

Supporting Texts
  • Beatty, J.K., et al (eds.) (1999) The New Solar System
  • McBride, N., and Gilmour, I. (2005) An Introduction to the Solar System
Assessment Methods 2-hour examination (67%), assessed essay (33%)
(convenor underlined)

Dr Andrew McGonigle, Dr Felix Ng


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