The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Provides an introduction to optical crystallography, rock-forming minerals and igneous petrology. The course provides the fundamentals of mineral identification using the petrological microscope, mineral chemistry, and the petrogenesis of igneous rocks in relation to plate tectonic environment. Lectures encompass the theoretical sections of the course, while the practical aspect is delivered by the use of microscopes and rock thin-sections.



  • Semester 1 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Be familiar with the theoretical and practical aspects of the petrological microscope.

2. Have an understanding of the origin of igneous rocks from a global plate tectonic perspective.


This course is divided into two sections. The first seven weeks of semester deal with the optical mineralogy section of the course. This includes lectures on the theory behind polarized light microscopy and practical application of all theoretical aspects of the petrological microscope to the systematic identification of minerals in thin-section. This section also deals with the chemistry, structure and paragenesis of the common rock-forming minerals, their optical properties and how these relates to structure. The practical part associated with this section deals with the systematic identification of the separate mineral groupsThe remaining six weeks describes the character of, and explains the mechanisms of melting to form, the major rock groups in different tectonic settings. Included are basaltic rocks from mid-ocean ridges and hot spots, andesites and granites from subduction zones, and undersaturated mafic rocks from continental rifts.

Assumed knowledge

GEOS1040 and GEOS1050

Assessment items

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory Exercises

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

External students: Residential school to be run prior to semester (early February) concentrating on practical work. Recorded lectures attached to Powerpoint presentations to be made available via Blackboard. Comprehensive course notes to be provided.


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term