Back to: Geology major Geology major

Interested in understanding the evolution of our planet? Ever wondered how the earth works?

Geology concerns the solid Earth, in particular the rocks and their constituent minerals and fossils. The geological record of rocks, formed over much of the Earth’s 4500-million-year-old history, are the raw materials of geology. The study and interpretation of the geological record is of paramount importance in the search for natural resources like gold, coal, oil, groundwater and rock material used for construction work.

This major will integrate knowledge from a range of disciplines from field-based studies to more theoretical aspects of rocks, minerals and their behaviour during Earth processes. You will learn how the planet functions and be equipped to undertake fundamental research into geological processes, such as ore deposit formation and the environment.


There is always strong demand for our Geology major graduates in the petroleum, mineral and environmental industries. As the need for resources grows, it is likely that this demand will increase, providing geologists with very good job prospects.

A Geology major can be your springboard to enter an employment or research in areas where an understanding of how the planet functions is required. This includes fundamental research into geological processes such as ore deposit formation and the environment.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • Depending on staffing and student numbers, excursion sites may include:

    • Flinders Ranges of South Australia, where students will be introduced to the style of sedimentation and nature of deformation and exhumation of portions of the Adelaide Geosyncline;
    • Broken Hill and regions within the Curnamona Craton of South Australia and New South Wales in which students will be introduced to skills that are relevant to the understanding of packages of deformed and metamorphosed rocks and their interpretation
    • Central Australia in which students will be introduced to an intracontinental fold and thrust belt and its relationship to the adjacent metamorphic basement and sedimentary basin;

  • This subject deals with methodologies for extracting geological information out of geophysical datasets. The subject mostly covers potential fields (gravity and magnetic methods) because these datasets are readily available, however it also visits seismic and electrical geophysical methods. GEOL30005 focusses on physics concepts and how they can be used to understand geology. Students work with industry standard software (eg. Geosoft - Oasis Montaj) which performs the maths in the background.

    Topics covered include maps, projection systems, datums and GPS; theory, acquisition, processing and interpretation steps involved for gravity and magnetic methods; image enhancement and qualitative interpretation techniques; quantitative style 2.5D geophysical modelling; seismic theory, acquisition, processing and how this integrates with geophysical wire-line well logging; radiometric acquisition/interpretation; and electrical geophysical techniques such as resistivity, induced polarisation, self-potential, electromagnetics and magnetotelurics.

  • Topics covered include the geological setting and genesis of major metalliferous deposits; magmatic, magmatic hydrothermal, submarine hydrothermal and surficial deposits of major metalliferous and non-metallic resources will be integrated with fluid inclusions, stable isotope, petrographic and field studies.

  • Geobiology and palaeobiology involve the study of interactions between Earth’s geosphere and biosphere, and how these interactions impact or reflect environmental conditions. This subject includes the fields of geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, biomineralization, fossilization and palaeontology. This subject will survey the fundamental principles used in geobiology and palaeobiology, explain how biological processes influence most geochemical reactions in the Earth’s regolith and oceans, and show how palaeoenvironmental conditions controlled the evolution and preservation of geologically ancient lifeforms as fossils. This subject will demonstrate how fundamental knowledge of microbially-mediated biogeochemistry, mineral and organic biomarkers, and fossil assemblages can be directly applied to a wide range of problems in the petroleum, mineral and environmental industries, and used to interpret past environments, climates and oceanography.

  • Solving geological problems requires unravelling what happened and when. Petrogenesis is literally 'the origin of rocks' and in this subject several essential tools geologists employ to unravel the complexity of earth processes using chemical information preserved in rocks and minerals will be presented. These include the major, trace element and isotopic compositions of rocks and minerals. Most of this subject relates to igneous processes, however many of the tools can be applied to a broad range of geological problems. These include dating the formation of sedimentary rocks and ore deposits, constraining the ages of metamorphic events, and unravelling palaeoclimate records.

    In addition to learning the principles that underpin these techniques, emphasis is placed on how or when they are best applied. It is expected that by the end of the semester you will be able to explain how specific tools work and demonstrate both when it is appropriate, and how to apply them, to resolve petrogenetic problems.

  • This subject will investigate, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the fundamental physical and chemical processes governing groundwater flow and composition, including aquifer properties, regional geology and hydrology, water-rock interactions, and subsurface microbial activity. Field and laboratory methods used to characterize aquifer properties and groundwater chemistry, including well pumping tests, chemical tracers, and major ion and isotope analyses will also be covered. A two-day field excursion will draw together many of these concepts and topics.

  • An individual program of supervised research in which the student designs a research project, in consultation with the supervisor, carries out and presents the results of the project. Detailed requirements are to be negotiated with the supervisor and the Science Research Project Coordinator(s).

    Each student will receive feedback on their progress through ongoing consultation with their supervisor.

  • Topics covered include facies analysis and petrology of carbonate, terrigenous and chemical sediments; techniques used in stratigraphic analysis and sequence stratigraphy; sedimentary geochemistry and its applications; principles and applications of palaeontology with respect to stratigraphy; post-depositional processes, including diagenesis and weathering, that alter rocks after their formation; chemical interactions between minerals and groundwater in weathered rocks and weathering products; the processes involved in hydrocarbon generation and organic maturation; and application of sedimentary geology to understanding sediment-hosted ore deposits.

  • This subject covers geological processes involved in large-scale tectonics and introduces advanced topics in structural and metamorphic geology. Topics include the structure and composition of the Earth; plates defined in terms of the thermal and rheological structure of the outer part of the Earth; isostasy; stress and strain in the crust and lithosphere; structural and metamorphic processes in orogenic belts, their origin and their relationship to continental amalgamation and fragmentation; intraplate deformation; deformation mechanisms; shear zone processes; the analysis of poly-deformed terranes and high grade metamorphic processes including partial melting and melt loss.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Science Extended pages.