Geology is a discipline of Earth Science. It studies the materials that make up the Earth, their structure and the processes which affect them over time. 

An understanding of geology not only helps us to understand the historical context of the Earth’s materials and formation but also uses that knowledge to help inform us about what we might expect in the future.

Learn about the fundamentals of geology in this comprehensive 100-hour short course!


There are 9 lessons in this course:

1. Introduction

  • Basic Chemistry of Rocks
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Introduction to Mineral Groups

2. Types of Rocks

  • Mineral Classification and Crystal Structure
  • Geological Environments and Mineral Formation

3. Structural Geology

  • Tectonics and Geodynamics
  • Features of Structural Geology
  • Describing Structures in Geology
  • Designing Tectonic Models
  • Measurements
  • Data Acquisition: Field Geology
  • Data Synthesis and Analysis
  • Validating Models

4. Types of Minerals

  • Identifying Minerals
  • Mineral Classification

5. Geobiology

  • Earth's Gases and Metabolic Diversity of Organisms
  • Biophysical Soil Processes
  • Soil Microbiome
  • Underwater Biophysical Processes

6. Geophysics

  • Plate Tectonics Theory
  • Plate Boundaries

7. Geochemistry

  • Analytical Geochemistry
  • Elements and Isotopes
  • Isotope Geochemistry
  • Low-Temperature Geochemistry
  • Organic Geochemistry
  • Geochemical Cycles
  • Health Impacts

8. Groundwater Hydrology

  • Occurrence of Groundwater
  • Aquifers
  • Glaciohydrogeology

9. Applied Geology

  • Groundwater Management
  • Mining
  • Engineering
  • Geotourism
  • Geological Surveys

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the nature and scope of geology and concepts that underpin the science of geology.
  • Differentiate between rock types.
  • Explain the scope, nature and application of structural geology in today’s world.
  • Differentiate between different minerals.
  • Explain the scope, nature and application of geophysics in today’s world.
  • Explain the scope, nature and application of geobiology in today’s world.
  • Explain the nature of chemical change that can occur in the geology of a site.
  • Explain the nature and significance of groundwater on different sites.
  • Explain different practical applications for a knowledge of geology 



Geology is mostly concerned with the study of rocks, although geologists may also be interested in unlithified material. Unlithified material is comprised of newer deposits above bedrock which are mostly sediments, lava, and magma.    

A rock is an aggregate of mainly minerals and mineral-like matter. 

  • Rocks may be of organic origin, e.g. coal. 
  • Some rocks can be composed of just one mineral, while others may contain many minerals. The latter are the most common. 
  • In an aggregate, the materials retain their own properties. For this reason, rocks can usually be identified by the minerals that they contain, and the properties of rocks are determined by those minerals.

A mineral is defined as any naturally occurring inorganic (non-biological) solid that has an orderly crystalline structure and a well-defined chemical composition. 

  • A mineral must occur naturally; a synthetic diamond is not considered a mineral. 
  • A mineral must be solid. 
  • A mineral should have a repetitive atomic structure.
  • The chemical make-up of the mineral should be consistent (although it may vary a little between samples). 
  • There is one exception where minerals may be of organic (biological) origin. This is where marine animals excrete calcium carbonate (calcite) making shells and coral reefs.