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History of the Earth

Course Code: EAES 1121
Faculty: Science & Technology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course is concerned with Earth history and the events that have shaped the development of the Earth. Topics include: the origin of the Earth, movement of Earth's tectonic plates over time, origin and evolution of life, mass extinction events, and ancient climates. Techniques used to date and interpret events of the past and reconstruct ancient environments will be discussed. The course includes practical hands-on labs. A field trip may be required.

Course Content

  • Origins: Origin of the solar system and planet Earth, origin of life, evolution.
  • Rocks and Minerals: Composition, texture/physical properties, classification and identification.
  • Sedimentary Rocks and Environments: Composition, texture, classification, identification, formation, weathering and erosion, soils, sedimentary processes and structures, depositional environments and erosional/transport agents.
  • Interior of the Earth: Structure of the Earth, plate tectonics, composition and structure of oceanic and
    continental crust, structural deformation (e.g., orogenies, rifting).
  • Time: Geologic time scale, relative and absolute dating.
  • Stratigraphy: Stratigraphic principles, lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, lithofacies, biofacies, correlation.
  • Paleontology: Fossil observation, description, identification.
  • Ancient environments: Paleoenvironments, paleobiogeography, paleoclimate.
  • Major events of Earth history: Extinctions, supercontinents, glaciations, etc.

Methods of Instruction

2 hours per week lectures.

2 hours per week labs.

A field trip may be required.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Lecture and lab assignments, homework, project, term paper 10 - 30%
Lab exams, quizzes 20 - 40%
Midterm exam 20 - 25%
Final exam 30%

Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing EAES 1121, a student will be able to:

  • Describe the history of important events and people involved in the development of early geological concepts and the geologic time scale. Explain the difference between uniformitarianism, actualism and catastrophism.
  • Recite the geological time scale in terms of eons, eras, periods and Cenozoic epochs.
  • Describe, identify and classify the most common rocks and minerals. Explain the formation of sedimentary rocks and stratified and cross-cutting igneous rocks.
  • Describe the underlying principles of stratigraphy and fossil succession and apply them to sedimentary successions (stratigraphic sequences). Interpret stratigraphic sequences in terms of changes to paleoenvironment and paleolandscape. Correlate stratigraphic sequences.
  • Describe, identify and classify common fossil organisms (classification based on kingdom, phylum, class and order). Explain the basic principles of evolution and extinction.
  • Describe the theory of plate tectonics and how it relates to rock forming processes.
  • Recite and describe key climatic, tectonic and evolutionary events in Earth's history.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.