Course Descriptions

A rich and diverse catalog of courses

51-102 - Physical Geology (4 credits, Fall-Spring)

The nature and origin of rocks and the study of geological processes such as erosion, earthquakes, mountain building and plate tectonics. Laboratories illustrate geological methods of scientific inquiry by studies of minerals, rocks, rock deformation, topographic and geologic maps and by a field trip. Students may receive credit for only one of the following courses: Geology 102, 110, or 150. Special fees may apply.

51-109 - Evolution of the Earth (4 credits, Fall-Spring)

Evolution of the Earth with emphasis on plate tectonic concepts and the geologic history of North America. History of life as revealed in the geologic record. A field trip to the Devil’s Lake area is required. Satisfies general education requirements in laboratory science. 

Prerequisite: Geology 102, 110 or 150. Special fees may apply.

51-110 - Honors Geology (5 credits, Spring)

This course provides the scientific foundation to understand how the earth works and why geologic events occur when and where they do. It is divided into three areas of study. The first considers the materials which make up the earth and the processes that produce them. These materials include the common minerals and rocks of the earth as well as the scarce ones that are so important for our economy. Next, a thorough treatment of internal earth processes provides the foundation for understanding the large-scale motions and upheavals of the earth including continental drift, the formation of mountains, eruption of volcanoes, and the origin of earthquakes. The third part of the course studies the surface processes that wear down the mountains and sculptures our landscape into varied and interesting configurations we see today. The laboratory provides hands-on experience with the three aspects of geology and introduces the student to geological methods of scientific inquiry. A field trip is part of the laboratory class. 

Prerequisite: Enrolled in good standing with the UW Oshkosh Honors College with prior or concurrent enrollment in HNRS 175. Students may receive credit for only one of the following courses: Geology 102, 110 or 150. Students cannot earn credit in both an honors course and a non-honors course of the same title. Special fees may apply.

51-112 - Dinosaurs and the Age of Reptiles (XL) (4 credits, Fall)

This course will explore dinosaurs, their evolution, and our understanding of the fossil record. Students will examine the geologic record and the tools used by geoscientists to determine ancient environments and their geologic ages, the evolutionary histories and extinctions of organisms, dinosaurian biology and behavior, and the mechanisms of global change ranging from plate tectonics to asteroid impacts.

51-140 - Introduction to Geologic Field Methods (1 credit, Spring-even years)

Introduction to principles and techniques for observing, describing and interpreting geological features in the field. 

Prerequisite or concurrent enrollment: Geology 102, 110 or 150. Special fees may apply.

51-150 - Environmental Geology (4 credits, Fall-Spring)

The physical environment and human interaction with it. Emphasis on earth processes which affect humans, such as rivers, erosion, groundwater, landslides and earthquakes. Includes a laboratory with study of rocks and minerals, soils, water quality, maps, hydroprocesses and a local field trip. Course is recommended for non-majors. Students may receive credit for only one of the following courses: Geology 102, 110 or 150.

51-200 - Earth's Changing Climate (3 credits, Spring, Odd Years)
This course will examine contemporary scientific thought on understanding climate in Earth history, past climate change events, evolution of the atmosphere through time, and will compare past events to today’s changing climate.  Past periods of radical climate shifts, such as during the Permian Extinction, will be analyzed to understand how life was affected by extreme changes during those events to better understand scientific thought for the current climate emergency as well as future climate trends.  There are no prerequisites, but at least one previous Geology or Geography course is encouraged.


51-205 - Mineralogy (4 credits, Fall)

Crystallography and crystal chemistry of the major groups of minerals. Mineral associations, alteration, and economic importance. Laboratory work consists of mineral identification using physical and chemical properties and mineral associations. Field trips may be taken to selected areas to illustrate principles taught in the course. 

Prerequisite: Geology 102, 110 or 150; and Chemistry 105 (may be taken concurrently). Special fees may apply.

51-206 - Lithology (4 credits, Spring)

Genesis and classification of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; principles of magmatic differentiation and sedimentary and metamorphic facies. Laboratory work with hand specimens of rocks and minerals. Field trips may be taken to selected areas to illustrate principles taught in the course. 

Prerequisite: Geology 205. Special fees may apply.

51-308/508 - Petrology (3 credits, Spring - odd years)

The character and origin of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Laboratory examination of thin sections of igneous and metamorphic rocks with a petrographic microscope. 

Prerequisite: Geology 205. Special fees may apply.

51-309 - Paleontology (3 credits, Fall)

Morphology, classification, life environment, and stratigraphic distribution of invertebrate fossils. Fossil preservation and nature of the fossil record. Mechanisms of organic evolution and extinction. Application of paleontologic principles to the study of earth history. 

Prerequisite: Geology 109. Special fees may apply.

51-311/511 - Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis (3 credits, Spring-odd years)

Application of stratigraphic concepts to the study of basin evolution and the genesis and architecture of sedimentary rock successions. Discussion of the tectonic evolution of basins, principles of stratigraphic correlation, interpretation of terrestrial and marine depositional systems, sequence stratigraphy, event stratigraphy, stratigraphic modeling, and hydrocarbon systems. Laboratory experiments with outcrop sample suites, core and subsurface geophysical data sets. Field trips to describe and interpret local sedimentary rock succession are required. 

Prerequisite: Geology 206. Special fees may apply.

51-314/514 - Sedimentology (3 credits, Fall)

Analysis and interpretation of sediments and sedimentary rocks. 

Prerequisite: Geology 206. Special fees may apply.

51-315/515 - Sedimentary Petrology (1 credit, Spring - odd years)

Description, classification and interpretation of sedimentary rocks in hand specimen and thin section. 

Prerequisite: Geology 314. 315/515

51-320 - Geomorphology (3 credits, Fall - even years)

Fundamentals of surficial geology and landscape form and process. Laboratory work includes study of topographic maps, geologic maps, and air photos which are representative of major physiographic provinces in the United States. A field trip is required. 

Prerequisite: Geology 109 or 110. Special fees may apply.

51-322/522 - Mineral Deposits (3 credits, Fall - odd years)

Principles that govern the accumulation of metallic ores. Consideration of the geology of individual ore deposits. Field trips to several mining areas in the Lake Superior region may be required.

Prerequisite: Geology 206. Special course fees may apply.

51-323 - Minerals, Energy, and the Environment (3 credits, Fall)

A course in environmental and economic geologic principles as they relate to society’s quest for earth materials for various applications. Interactive lectures and a field trip to review geologic processes that lead to mineral and energy resource deposit formation and redistribution. Students will learn scientific approaches to mineral and energy exploration, and review global and local economic and environmental factors that influence energy and metals markets driving these industries. Special attention will be given to environmental topics by examining the long and short-term environmental impacts for specific case studies of historic and modern mining and energy resource development. 

Prerequisites: Geol 102, Geol 150, or Geol 110; Recommended: Chemistry 105.

51-326/526 - Geophysics and Geotectonics (3 credits, Spring-even years)

Application of principles of physics to the study of the earth. Discussion of plate tectonics theory, and nature and distribution of regional scale tectonic features of the earth, such as mountain belts. Laboratory use of certain geophysical instruments, field trips and problems involving reduction and interpretation of geophysical data.

Prerequisite: Mathematics 108 or equivalent; Geology 102 or 110 or 150. Strongly recommended: Geology 331. Special fees may apply.

51-328/528 - Oceanography (3 credits, Spring)

Basic phenomena and conditions of the oceans, development of the science of oceanography, structure of the ocean basins, chemistry and physics of sea water, circulation of oceans, life in the sea and the deposits on the floor of the sea. 

Prerequisite: eight credits of lab science. Special fees may apply.

51-331/531 - Structural Geology and Tectonics (3 credits, Spring)

Introduction to principles of rock deformation, description and interpretation of geologic structures and geotectonic processes. Laboratory exercises using methods for structural analysis. Field trip required. 

Prerequisite: Mathematics 106 or 108 or equivalent; Geology 206. Special fees may apply.

51-335/555 - Glacial Geology (3 credits, Fall - odd years)

The origin, movement and decay of glaciers; landforms developed by glaciers; the glacial succession and associated environmental changes, and the economic aspects of glaciation. A field trip is required. 

Prerequisite: Geology 102, 110 or 150. Special fees may apply.

51-342 - Applied Geologic Field Methods (2 credits, Spring Interim - odd years)

Principles and techniques of acquiring and interpreting geological and geophysical field data. Includes geologic mapping using base maps, aerial photographs, plane table surveys, and pace-and-compass surveys; geophysical surveys with portable instruments. A field trip and a final written report are required. 

Prerequisite: Geology 206 (concurrent enrollment). Strongly recommended: Geology 140 (concurrent enrollment). Special fees may apply.

51-344 - Field Geology (6 credits, Summer)

Application of the theories and methods of field geology in the mountains of the western United States. Provides practical experience and instruction in geologic mapping and field analysis of geologic structures and sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock assemblages. Geology 344 meets for six weeks during the summer. 

Prerequisite: Geology 206, 331 and consent of instructor. Strongly recommended: Geology 309 and 311. Contact instructor for application materials and information regarding special course fees.

51-355/555 - Geology of Wisconsin (3 credits, as scheduled)

The Precambrian, Paleozoic and Pleistocene history of Wisconsin and surrounding area, emphasizing the nature and chronology of geological processes which have formed the rocks. Field trips to selected areas illustrate a variety of geological features. 

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

51-360/560 - Field Course in Geology (1-3 credits, Fall Interim, Spring Break, Spring Interim and Summer)

Formal classroom study of an area of geologic interest followed by field study of the area. Study areas change from year to year, but have included the Florida reef tract, coastal North Carolina, the Catskills, the Grand Canyon, the Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend National Park, the Gulf Coast and central Coahuila, Mexico. A final examination follows the trip. May be taken for credit more than once. Special sections may be arranged to accommodate students with differing backgrounds in geology. 

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Contact instructor for information regarding special course fees.

51-365/565 - Physical Hydrogeology (3 credits, Fall - odd years)

This course explores various aspects of the water cycle. Major topics include evaporation, precipitation, surface water hydrology, occurrence of soil moisture and groundwater, properties of aquifers, principles of groundwater flow, groundwater flow to wells and the geologic settings of groundwater supplies. Laboratory exercises will familiarize students with sources of hydrologic data and with mathematical and graphical methods of analyzing those data to solve applied problems. 

Prerequisite: Geology 102, 110, or 150; Mathematics 108 or equivalent; or consent of instructor. Special fees may apply.

51-366/566 - Chemical Hydrology (3 credits, Spring-even years)

This course provides the background necessary to address groundwater contamination problems. Major topics include 1) the chemistry of natural waters and the important reactions affecting groundwater chemistry, 2) an introduction to the physical and chemical processes affecting solute transport, 3) the characteristics of common groundwater contaminants, and 4) methods of site characterization and remediation. Laboratory sessions will be a mix of case studies, demonstrations and exercises that will familiarize students with sources of hydrogeologic and hydrogeochemical data and with mathematical and graphical methods of analyzing those data to solve applied problems.

Prerequisite: Geology 365/565 and Chemistry 106. Special fees may apply.

51-369 - Geochemistry (3 credits, Fall - even years)

Qualitative and quantitative study of geologically important elements and their distribution in crustal environments. Chemical bonding, solution equilibria, chemical weathering, pH-Eh diagrams and their relevance to base metal deposits and organic geochemistry. 

Prerequisite: Geology 102, 110 or 150, and Chemistry 105. Chemistry 106 recommended. Special fees may apply.

51-370/570 - Field Hydrogeology I (2 credits, Spring Interim - even years)

This field course is designed to provide students with the range of field skills needed by the practicing hydrogeologist to characterize subsurface geology and aquifer properties. Topics to be covered include drilling methods, geophysical techniques, well installation, determination of groundwater flow direction and aquifer testing. The course includes lecture component and an extensive field component. For each topic there will be an introductory lecture followed by a field exercise designed to give students experience with data collection and analysis. Field exercises will make use of the wells located on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus; however, there will also be a day-long field trip to off-campus locations. 

Prerequisite: Pre to corequisite in Physical Hydrogeology (365/565) or consent of instructor. Special fees may apply.

51-371/571 - Field Hydrogeology II (1 credit, Spring Interim - even years)

This field course is designed to provide students with the range of field skills needed by the practicing hydrogeologist. Topics to be covered include collection of water samples, characterization of natural water quality, and methods of characterizing the presence and extent of groundwater contamination. The course includes both a lecture component and an extensive field component. For each topic there will be an introductory lecture followed by a field exercise designed to give students experience with data collection and analysis. Field exercises will make use of the wells located on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus; however, there will also be field trips to off-campus locations some of which may require overnight stays.

Prerequisite: Chemical Hydrogeology (Geology 366/566) or consent of instructor. Special Fees may apply. 371/571

51-444 - Research in Geology (1-3 credits)

A student will work collaboratively with a professor on a research project, which may be field- or laboratory-based or both. This is an opportunity for a student to learn how to initiate, pursue and complete a geologic research study. Geology students are encouraged to take this course because it will prepare them for graduate work or geological employment. 

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

51-445 - Geology Internship (1-3 credits)

Application of geologic training to business/government job environment. Student(s) will be supervised on the job by a geotechnical professional. Internships can be arranged any term. The number of units (crs.) to be received and the grading criteria will be agreed upon in advance with the faculty member who is the on-campus supervisor. Course may be repeated for up to a total of three units (crs.).

Prerequisites: Geology 206 and consent of department chair.

51-456 - Related Readings (1-3 credits)

See Related Readings under Course and Academic Advisement Policies information for general course description, general prerequisites and proper contract form requirements.

51-460/660 - Topics in Geology (1-3 credits as scheduled)

The study of selected topics in geology. Topics may be of current interest or may expand on material covered in other courses. The topic will be announced in the timetable when the course is offered. The course may be repeated for credit only if the content is different. 

Prerequisites: Geology 206, consent of instructor, and a GPA in Geology of 3.0 or higher.

51-474 - Honors Thesis (1-6 credits)

Honors thesis projects include any advanced independent endeavor in the student’s major field of study, e.g., a written thesis, scientific experiment or research project, or creative arts exhibit or production. Proposals (attached to Independent Study Contract) must show clear promise of honors level work and be approved by a faculty sponsor. Course title for transcript will be ‘Honors Thesis’. Completed projects will be announced and presented to interested students and faculty. 

Prerequisite: University Honors status and junior standing. Maximum of six credits.


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(920) 424-4460

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