School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

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Geology Field Excursions: Introduction

All of the Geology courses have associated Field Excursions, ranging from local day trips to residential trips of up to 14 days. The information listed here is not comprehensive! No mention is made of the second year trip to Inchnadamph, the third year trips to Kinlochleven or Spain, or the fourth year trip to Cyprus, or many others. The formal Excursion Previews listed here were designed for specific educational purposes. The informal ones may be considered pictorial tasters. See also The Students Geological Society Gallery.

Random fieldwork photograph: Dessiccation cracks, Mull


The Holyrood Park field excursion is taken by first year students early in the Session when the weather and available daylight are still likely to be good. At this stage the students know little of geological processes and terminology, and find themselves with a bewildering range of academic and social pressures. There are management pressures too, chiefly the need to ensure that new academic staff and teaching assistants are familiar with features they will need to explain to students during the real field excursion. There are two parts to the Holyrood Park Excursion Preview:

  1. Field Notebook Preparation: here the objective is to ensure that students actually have a suitable field notebook, that they arrive in the field with it prepared for note-taking, and that they know what sort of entries they ought to be making. This is helpful for the teaching assistants too.

  2. Excursion Preview: Here the objective is to give students an overview of what they will see in the field, and what they should look for. The Preview is especially important for novice teaching assistants.

The Siccar Point excursion comes late in the first year when students know a lot more. The Preview includes an outline of the geological conditions in which the rocks were formed, which is difficult to disseminate consistently in the field. The excursion itseld is quite short (~2 hours), being coupled with a visit to Pease Bay in former years and currently with Catcraig, for which a Preview has not been prepared.

Notes for Tutors

The Holyrood Park amd Siccar Point Excursion Previews are designed to be assessed. Experience shows that this is necessary in order to be taken seriously by a large minority of students. It is also the case that many students will have high marks as their objectives, rather than learning outcomes. For this game of cat and mouse a number of assessment methods have been tried. Currently, a set of True/False questions is in use. Each question is configured to have a random true or false answer, so no set of questions has the same response set, and no set of questions can be marked twice, so using the Back button to change a submission with the correct answers available will not work. Students can answer a new set of questions as often as they like in an attempt to obtain a perfect score.

It will be possible to provide Tutors at other Institutions with the facility to download marks for a class of their students. Details to follow.