The BSc (Hons) degree is a postgraduate specialisation qualification, characterised by the fact that it prepares students for further, research-based study at postgraduate level. The qualification follows on a bachelor’s degree and is aimed at consolidating and deepening a student’s expertise in geology, and to develop research capacity in the methodology and techniques of the discipline. The qualification demands a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual independence. The degree, in conjunction with practical, post-qualification experience, also serves as the minimum entry requirement for registration as a professional natural scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).

More specifically, the intention of this degree is to help students to:

  • Develop the ability to identify problems in the geosciences that are amenable to scientific inquiry and to formulate suitable research questions and research avenues/methodologies.
  • Become familiar with contemporary, primary literature and classic literature in the discipline and the resources available to them to do so.
  • Develop the ability to generate data and to interpret data.
  • Develop their critical reading skills.
  • Develop their scientific writing skills.
  • Presenting data acquired through experiments, mapping, analyses, observations etcetera in a scientific way.

Students can pursue an honours qualification in one of the following specialisations:

  • Geology
    • Compulsory modules:GLGY6816; GLGY6853; GLGY6801; GLGY6808; GLGY6823; GLGY6863; GLGY6883
    • Electives: GLGY6856 / GLGY6836
  • Environmental Geology
    • Compulsory modules:GLGY6816; GLGY6836; GLGY6873; GLGY6801; GLGY6808; GLGY6823; GLGY6883
    • Electives: GLGY6863 / GLGY6843
  • Geochemistry
    • Compulsory modules:GLGY6816; GLGY6836; GLGY6853; GLGY6801; GLGY6808; GLGY6843; GLGY6863; GLGY6883
    • Electives: None

First semester

  • GLGY6816 - Plate Tectonics - 24 credits
  • GLGY6836 - Advanced and Applied Mineralogy - 24 credits
  • GLGY6853 - Advanced Igneous Petrology - 12 credits
  • GLGY6856 - Advanced Structural Geology - 24 credits
  • GLGY6873 - Advanced Environmental Geochemistry - 12 credits

Second semester

  • GLGY6863 - Advanced Economic and Exploration Geology - 12 credits
  • GLGY6823 - Advanced Sedimentology - 12 credits
  • GLGY6843 - Advanced Geochemistry - 12 credits
  • GLGY6883 - Capita Selecta (currently Geophysics) - 12 credits
Year modules
  • GLGY6808 - Short Research Essay - 32 credits
  • GLGY6801 - Skills Development and Ethics for Geoscience Professionals - 4 credits
Module syllabi

      GLGY6816 – Plate tectonics

  • Syllabus
    • Plate tectonic theory; rift valleys and passive continental margins; mid-ocean ridges, hot spots and flood basalts; subduction zones; transform faults; continental drift, the Wilson cycle and supercontinents through time; ancient plate tectonics; crust formation processes through time
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; videos; primary literature
    • Frisch, W., Meschede, M., Blakey, R.C. (2011) Plate tectonics: Continental Drift and Mountain Building. Springer
  • Assessments
    • Assignments; Semester test; Final examination

    GLGY6836 – Advanced and Applied Mineralogy

  • Syllabus
    • Calculation of complex mineral formulae; determination of specific gravity (theory); heavy mineral separation and zircon picking (theory); thin and thick section preparation (theory); ore microscopy (theory); X-ray Diffractometry (theory); crystallographic stereonet measurements (goniometry) and construction
    • Practical: SG determination; electron microscopy; X-ray Fluorescence and X-ray Diffractometry; zircon extraction (magnetic separation, Wilfley table, stereo microscopy); transmitted and reflected light microscopy; measurement of crystals with goniometer and presentation of results on stereonets
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Study notes; Additional notes and handouts
  • Field work
    • 5 day Northern Cape Fieldtrip (pegmatites, metamorphic minerals, alluvial diamonds)
  • Assessments
    • Applied mineralogy project; Seminars and presentations; Class tests and assignments; Field trip report; Final examination

     GLGY6853 – Advanced Igneous Petrology

  • Syllabus
    • Interpretation of phase diagrams (under equilibrium conditions & conditions of fractional crystallization); variation diagrams and the use of major element data; introduction to trace element modeling as applied to igneous rocks; the application of isotopes in igneous petrology; selected topical themes in igneous petrology.
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Primary literature
  • Assessments
    • Assignments; Seminars; Reports; Final Examination

     GLGY6873 – Advanced Environmental Geochemistry

  • Syllabus
    • Environmental geochemical processes; environmental geochemical systems (sources and sinks); sampling and laboratory analysis; data analysis; Legislative context (Geochemical risk assessments, waste classification, water contamination assessments, soil contamination assessments); geochemical modelling; basic equilibrium thermodynamics; box models (as applied to mine water and salt balances and global geochemical cycling); enrichment factors and environmental pollution (backgrounds, baselines and thresholds)
    • Practical: Practical geochemical assessment project based on real datasets
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Study notes; Relevant legislation; Suggested reading
  • Assessments
    • Semester test; Practical geochemical assessment project; Final examination (open book)

     GLGY6856 – Advanced Structural Geology

  • Syllabus
    • Principles and techniques of structural geology and applications thereof; planning and execution of structural mapping projects; collection, interpretation, processing and presentation of structural data
    • Practical: Surface and underground geological and structural mapping
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Primary literature; List of recommended texts
  • Field work
    • 5 day Upington-Copperton fieldtrip involving surface mapping and underground mine mapping
  • Assessments
    • Reports and presentations; Literature reviews; Underground mine mapping exercise; Surface mapping exercise and strain analysis; Final examination

     GLGY6863 – Advanced Economic and Exploration Geology

  • Syllabus
    • South African Economic Geology (Kimberlites, Witwatersrand Au deposits, the Bushveld Complex, Banded Iron Formations, Energy resources)
    • Exploration techniques; use of indicator minerals in mineral exploration; ore resource and reserve estimation; drilling practice
    • Practical: Visits to South African mineral deposits and mining operations; thin section description and interpretation; practical resource / reserve estimation (manual and computer-based)
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Prescribed reading from primary literature
  • Field work
    • 9 day field trip to South African mineral deposits and mining operations
  • Assessments
    • Field notes; Debate; Resource / Reserve estimation exercise; Presentations; Paper discussions; Final examination

     GLGY6823 – Advanced Sedimentology

  • Syllabus
    • Concepts of scale in sedimentology (spatial and temporal); basin analysis; topical issues in sedimentology
    • Practical: Sedimentological profiling, data acquisition and reporting
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Compulsory reading from various sources
  • Field work
    • 6 day fieldtrip to the Vanderkloof area
  • Assessments
    • Class test; Presentations; Fieldwork exercises; Poster; Final examination

     GLGY6843 – Advanced Geochemistry

  • Syllabus
    • Analytical methods for isotope determination; radioactive isotopes and their uses in geochemistry; deep Earth geochemistry; stable isotope geochemistry; applications of isotope studies to ores; applications of isotope studies to sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; surface geochemistry
    • Practical: Semester project and practical exercises using real datasets
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Primary literature
  • Assessments
    • Student project; Semester tests; Assignments; Final examination

     GLGY6883 – Capita Selecta (Geophysics)

  • Syllabus
    • Introduction to the magnetic method; gravity method; radiometric method; seismic method; electrical methods (Self potential method, induced polarization method; resistivity method, electromagnetic method); geophysical wireline logs, case studies
    • Practical: Geophysical interpretation task using real datasets
  • Learning material
    • Study guide; Study notes; Powerpoint slides
  • Assessments
    • Geophysical interpretation task; Semester test; Final examination

     GLGY6808 – Geology Research Report

  • Syllabus
    • Identifying a research project and formulating a research question; consultation of primary literature relevant to the chosen topic of inquiry; consideration of research ethics and development of an appreciation of the scientific method; generation of data relevant to a specific research project; development of critical reading and scientific writing skills; presentation of research data in a final report; reaching conclusions that are grounded on the data collected; identifying (where necessary) the need for further research
  • Learning material
    • Study guide
  • Field work
    • Project dependent
  • Assessments
    • Research proposal; Draft research project reports; Final research project report

      GLGY6801 –Skills Development and Ethics for Geoscience Professionals

  • Syllabus
    • Introduction to ethics; ethics in the geosciences; development of soft skills; the importance of time management and deadlines; professional behaviour in the geosciences; what it means to be part of a profession; the importance of continued professional development; library short course; self-presentation; CVs and résumés 
  • Learning material
    • Study guide and prescribed reading
  • Assessments
    • Attendance, exercises, and assignments


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