Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2019-2020 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Geology

Overview

The mission of the Geology major is to foster in students an understanding of the Earth: the processes that affect its surface and interior; its formation and evolution through time; and its functioning as the physical environment for the living world. The major accomplishes this goal by offering to students a set of coordinated experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and field. Geology is an intrinsically interdisciplinary science, drawing upon the tools of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, and environmental science to examine problems that range in scale from a single mineral grain to the entire solar system. Geology majors learn to work together on inquiry-based laboratory and field projects, and each produces a Senior Thesis describing independent research they have undertaken with a faculty mentor. There is a special emphasis on articulating ideas orally, graphically, and in writing, skills that are valuable not only in science but also in the many other careers where geology majors from Occidental have found success. Geology is a global science, and so students who have made progress in the major as sophomores are encouraged to study abroad for a semester during their junior year. The Geology major expresses the Department's commitment to prepare students to excel in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world.

GEO 105 is open to first-year and second-year students only; 200-level courses are open to any student who has completed GEO 105; 300-level courses are intended for junior and senior geology majors and minors; 400-level seminars are for senior majors.

Major Requirements

COURSEWORK

The following courses (13) are required for completion of the major program in the Department of Geology:

Fundamental Coursework:

GEO 105Earth: Our Environment

4 units

Or

GEO 106Earth and the Human Future

4 units

And

GEO 215Evolution of the Earth

4 units

GEO 225Introduction to Field Methods

4 units

GEO 235Global Geophysics and Tectonics

4 units

GEO 305Earth Materials

4 units

GEO 315Sedimentary Geology

4 units

GEO 324Advanced Field Mapping

2 units

GEO 325Structural Geology

4 units

GEO 345Petrology

4 units

GEO 391Research Methods

2 units

GEO 491Senior Seminar and Thesis Research

2 units

Electives

Students must select an additional three courses from the list below:

GEO 245Earth's Climate: Past and Future

4 units

GEO 255Spatial Analysis with Geographic Information Science

4 units

GEO 342Geomorphology

4 units

GEO 355Paleomagnetism

4 units

GEO 390Special Topics in Geology

4 units


Mathematics Component:

Choose one option:

Option 1-
MATH 120Calculus 2

4 units

Or department approved equivalent.

Option 2-
MATH 110Calculus 1

4 units

And

Department-approved statistics course

4 units

Environmental Science Concentration

Introduction to Geology:

GEO 105Earth: Our Environment

4 units

Or

GEO 106Earth and the Human Future

4 units

Introduction to Biology:

Students must select one course from the list below:

BIO 105Marine Biology

4 units

BIO 106Biology of California

4 units

BIO 110Organisms on Earth

4 units

BIO 115General Zoology

4 units

Environmental Biology:

BIO 260Biodiversity and Organization of Marine Ecosystems

4 units

Or

BIO 270Ecology

4 units

Economics Component:

ECON 101Principles of Economics I

4 units

And

ECON 301Environmental Economics and Policy

4 units

Fundamental Geology:

GEO 225Introduction to Field Methods

4 units

GEO 235Global Geophysics and Tectonics

4 units

GEO 245Earth's Climate: Past and Future

4 units

GEO 255Spatial Analysis with Geographic Information Science

4 units

GEO 305Earth Materials

4 units

GEO 315Sedimentary Geology

4 units

GEO 324Advanced Field Mapping

2 units

GEO 325Structural Geology

4 units

GEO 391Research Methods

2 units

GEO 491Senior Seminar and Thesis Research

2 units

Mathematics Component:

Students must select one option from below:

Option 1-
MATH 120Calculus 2

4 units

Or department approved equivalent.

Option 2-
MATH 110Calculus 1

4 units

And

Department-approved statistics course

4 units

All graduate schools and professional careers in geology or environmental science require at least a basic understanding of chemistry and physics. Students considering graduate school or professional careers in these fields should also take the following courses: CHEM 120; PHYS 110 and PHYS 120 or PHYS 115 and PHYS 125.

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students majoring in Geology will satisfy the Second-Stage Writing Proficiency requirement by submitting a portfolio of at least two papers from any of the intermediate- or advanced-level writing-intensive Geology courses normally required for the major (or appropriate course work). The portfolios will be evaluated by at least two faculty members using the departmental writing rubric. Students receiving a passing score on the portfolio will fulfill the requirement; a student who does not receive a passing score will be required to submit his/her major writing intensive paper/project from GEO 391 Research Methods.

Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Second-Stage Writing Proficiency requirement in the college catalog and consult the department chair for additional information about which courses will fulfill the requirement and for a copy of the department's evaluation rubric.

Comprehensive Requirement

The comprehensive requirement in Geology is met by a passing grade on the senior comprehensive project. The senior comprehensive project is based on research conducted under the supervision of Department faculty or in an off-campus summer research program or field camp. This project can be started as early as the junior year (GEO 391) and typically involves field or laboratory work during the summer between junior and senior years. Seniors are expected to present their research orally and submit a written thesis by Spring Break. During the fall semester of senior year, all Geology majors attend a senior seminar (GEO 491 or equivalent). A major goal of these meetings is to help students make timely progress on their comprehensive projects.

College Honors

Students with a GPA of at least 3.25 are eligible to graduate with honors in geology. For these students, a larger senior thesis is planned, and students start their research earlier than the fall of their senior year. For this extra work, the honors student receives additional course credit (GEO 499) beyond credit for comprehensives. Refer also to the College Honors Program section of the catalog.

Minor Requirements

Coursework

GEO 105Earth: Our Environment

4 units

GEO 215Evolution of the Earth

4 units

GEO 235Global Geophysics and Tectonics

4 units

Two additional GEO electives

To be selected with department approval.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Geology Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for details.

Courses

Geology Courses