The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


Sedimentary rocks and environments have evolved with Life on Earth. They preserve a history of our Planet, as well as resources that are fundamental to our wellbeing. The study of sedimentary rocks is central to the exploration for resources and to a deep understanding of how Earth’s environments have evolved in the past under high/low sea levels. This course explores key concepts associated with sedimentary rocks and environments that relate to the study of past climates and resource exploration. The course comprises online and face to face lectures, field and laboratory practical tasks aimed at equipping students with the necessary skills to enter into industry fields as diverse as that of past climates, archaeology, astrobiology and carbon sequestration/storage.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2020

Learning outcomes

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

1. Examine and describe a range of systems for sedimentary rocks and sedimentary structures, and interpret the environmental conditions required for their formation;

2. Identify the spatial relationships of ancient environments preserved in sedimentary rocks and formulate hypotheses about their evolution through space and time as related to sea-level changes;

3. Employ microscopy and petrography techniques and data from grain populations to describe, characterise and interpret sedimentary rocks and sediments;

4. Recognize post-depositional (diagenetic) processes and features in sedimentary rocks.


1. Aspects of sedimentary rocks: definition of facies, facies analysis, models based on modern sedimentary environments  

2. Organization in space and development through time of sedimentary rocks:

concepts of stratigraphy, sedimentary structures and what they tell about past environments and life, where and how resources form and are preserved;

 3.Technical approaches to the study of sedimentary rocks: Microscopic petrological description.


Students must have successfully completed either GEOS2080 or GEOS2170 to enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

GEOS1040, GEOS1050, GEOS2170

Assessment items

Quiz: 5 In class quizzes

Report: Field Study Report - feedback given in post-field activity *

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: 5 Microscopy Laboratory Reports and Exercises

Practical Demonstration: Practical Microscopy Test in class

In Term Test: Applied theory test based on a powerpoint presentation in class

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - Students must attend and pass Induction requirements before attending field and laboratory activities.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Report: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for 5 Weeks

Timetabled as per the laboratory sessions


Face to Face On Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for 7 Weeks

Laboratory hours include field study as required.


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

Of these, 6 hours will be online from weeks 1 to 6. All the other lectures will be face to face.