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Field Geology from the Malvern Hills to the Cotswolds

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This module aims to introduce students to the science of geology as it is applied in the field, using the richly-varied geological heritage across the scenic lower Severn Valley from (and including) the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds.

Here can be studied the boundary between two fundamentally-different parts of the geology of the British Isles: the older, harder and structurally complex rocks seen in the west and north, and the younger, softer and structurally-simpler rocks present mostly in the south and east.

No prior knowledge of geology or the study area is assumed.

Learning and teaching

Field trip is 4 days (two consecutive weekends) with an emphasis on practical observation and recognition of significant features. 20 contact hours.

Students will be taught the basics of geological science, and the geology (including landforms) of the study area firstly through background reading of the handout forwarded to them in advance of the course (includes text, maps and descriptive annotated sketches); they will then be shown many of the aspects described in the handout in the field, having the handout available at all times for reference.

Field skills will be taught during the course, including how to observe and record, how to sample good reference specimens, and to be aware of and act on, key aspects of geological conservation and safety.

Coursework and assessment

A question paper to be given out at the end of the course. It is designed to be completed easily, but to reflect the range of the subject matter, testing the student’s understanding of the pre-course handout and what was described to them in the field.

Reading suggestions

  • Whitten with Brooks. 1974. A Dictionary of Geology. Penguin.
  • Kearey. 1996. The New Penguin Dictionary of Geology. Penguin.
  • Mondadori. 1977. The Macdonald Encyclopaedia of Rocks and Minerals. Macdonald.
  • Geological Museum. 1978. Britain before Man. HMSO.
  • British Museum (Natural History). 1969. British Palaeozoic Fossils. London.
  • British Museum (Natural History). 1972. British Mesozoic Fossils. London.
  • Fitter & Ray. The Seashore. Collins.
  • Hunter & Easterbrook. 2004. The Geological History of the British Isles. The Open University.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.