Featured module: GEOL1007 Sustainable Geoscience

This module introduces key concepts in environmental geosciences with a focus on sustainable geoscience and interdisciplinary issues. Using the United Nation’s seventeen sustainable development goals for a cleaner, greener, fairer and more equitable world, we explore how Earth Sciences can address global issues.

For example, Goal 7 is to ensure affordable and clean energy. Geoscientists are at the forefront of this issue through understanding the subsurface to develop geothermal power, or undertaking ground investigations for large scale clean energy plants. Lithium and many other elements are required for enhanced battery technologies, and these metals must be found and responsibly extracted. This also relates to sustainable development goals around innovation, infrastructure and responsible consumption.

Module lectures cover many of the pressing issues of today, such the energy transition, renewable energy, geo-resources, carbon-capture and storage and of course the climate emergency. Practical classes and seminars allow you to investigate these issues in more detail while developing geological understanding and key skills. For example, students look at the effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms, learn to identify lithium-bearing minerals, or investigate how carbon dioxide is actually stored in rocks.

These exercises will be enhanced by day trips to local organisations such as Redmoor Mine, Hemerdon Mine, Cornish Lithium, United Downs – Geothermal Engineering, The Eden Project or local China Clay workings. Meeting the project geoscientists and hearing about how they are trying to make a difference, puts the academic material into context and is truly inspiring.

Assessment 50% coursework; 50% exam

Topics covered:

  • UN sustainable development
  • science and society
  • zero carbon economy
  • climate change
  • plastics and petroleum.

What's in a smartphone?

Have you ever wondered what is inside your smartphone? We don't mean texts and bytes of information, but the chemical elements that make up the device in your hand.

Plymouth researcher’s conceived an eye-catching project in which they blended a smartphone down into a fine powder and chemically analysed the results.

Learn more about the results