Rock hammer

Geology Student Learning Objectives

UC Davis Geology Student Learning Objectives

Graduates of the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences should be able to:

  1. Apply the fundamental principles of geology, mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology to address geological issues.
  2. Identify common Earth materials at all spatial scales.
  3. Describe the origin of the solar system and Earth and be able to understand our planet in comparison with other planets. 
  4. Comprehend the 4.6 billion year history of Earth and the evolution of the solid earth, the cryosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere.
  5. Understand the chronology of life on Earth and the fundamentals of biologic evolution.
  6. Describe the origin and distribution of resources such as water, minerals and energy.
  7. Be aware of natural hazards, their impact on civilization and efforts at mitigation.
  8. View Earth as a dynamic system of solid, liquid, gaseous and living components, connected through the cycling of matter and energy.
  9. Recognize the relatively recent arrival of humans on the Earth and their disproportionate impact on the planet.
  10. Understand how science works via inquiry, observation, verification, reason and critical thinking.
  11. Synthesize and communicate their knowledge of geological concepts through written, oral and graphical representation.
  12. Apply the tenets of professional, ethical and responsible conduct as geoscientists.

 - Faculty of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department
January 2013

Geology Bachelor of Science

The requirements posted here are provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change.

The official Geology Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Requirements are available in the online UC Davis General Catalog prepared by the Office of the University Registrar. Disclaimer Notice.


Students interested in becoming professional geologists or continuing their geological studies at the graduate level should choose the Bachelor of Science degree program. The upper division electives are not restricted to geology courses but must be chosen to provide a relevant, coherent, and in-depth program of study. Transfer students should have completed as much as possible of the preparatory subject matter listed below.

Preparatory Subject Matter: 56-62 units
  • GEL 003 History of Life (3)
  • GEL 003L History of Life Laboratory (1)
  • GEL 050 Physical Geology (3)
  • GEL 050L Physical Geology Laboratory (2)
  • GEL 060 Earth Materials: Introduction (4)
  • GEL 062 Optical Mineralogy (2)
  • MAT 021A Calculus (4)
  • MAT 021B Calculus (4)
  • MAT 021C Calculus (4)
  • CHE 002A General Chemistry (5)
  • CHE 002B General Chemistry (5)
  • Choose one of these three options:
    • General Geology Option: 19-25 units
      • Choose one: 3-6 units
        • CHE 002C General Chemistry (5)
        • GEL 132 Introductory Inorganic Geochemistry (3)
        • HYD 134 Aqueous Geochemistry (6)
        • STA 032 Gateway to Statistical Data Science (4) OR STA 100 Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences (4)
      • PHY 007A General Physics (4)
      • PHY 007B General Physics (4)
      • PHY 007C General Physics (4) OR PHY 009A Classical Physics (5)
      • PHY 009B Classical Physics (5)
      • PHY 009C Classical Physics (5)
    • Geochemistry/Petrology Option: 21-24 units
      • Choose one: 3-6 units
        • CHE 002C General Chemistry (5)
        • GEL 132 Introductory Inorganic Geochemistry (3)
        • HYD 134 Aqueous Geochemistry (6)
        • STA 032 Gateway to Statistical Data Science (4) OR STA 100 Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences (4)
      • MAT 021D Vector Analysis (4)
      • PHY 009A Classical Physics (5)
      • PHY 009B Classical Physics (5)
    • Quantitative/Geophysics Option: 22 units
      • MAT 021D Vector Analysis (4)
      • MAT 022A Linear Algebra (3)
      • PHY 009A Classical Physics (5)
      • PHY 009B Classical Physics (5)
      • PHY 009C Classical Physics (5)
Depth Subject Matter: 52 units
  • GEL 101 Structural Geology (3)
  • GEL 101L Structural Geology Lab (2)
  • GEL 103 Field Geology (3)
  • GEL 105 Earth Materials: Igneous Rocks (4)
  • GEL 106 Earth Materials: Metamorphic Rocks (4)
  • GEL 107 Earth History: Paleobiology (3)
  • GEL 107L Earth History: Paleobiology Laboratory (2)
  • GEL 108 Earth History: Paleoclimates (3)
  • GEL 109 Earth History: Sediments and Strata (2)
  • GEL 109L Earth History: Sediments and Strata Laboratory (2)
  • GEL 110 Summer Field Geology (8)
  • Choose additional upper division electives from GEL 130-194 courses (only one of GEL/EDU 181 or GEL/EDU 183 or 185A or 185B or 186 may be applied toward elective credit), HYD 144, 146 and related fields approved in advance by major adviser. No more than three units upper division elective credit for GEL 115-120 courses. Maximum of six units upper division elective credit for GEL 192 or 194A-194B or 194HA-194HB. (16 units)
Total: 108-114 units

Geology Bachelor of Arts

The requirements posted here are provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change.

The official Geology Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) Degree Requirements are available in the online UC Davis General Catalog prepared by the Office of the University Registrar. Disclaimer Notice.


The Bachelor of Arts degree program is a subset of the courses required for the Bachelor of Science Degree program. The fewer units required allow these students to pursue other objectives.

Preparatory Subject Matter: 41-43 units
  • GEL 003 History of Life (3)
  • GEL 003L History of Life Laboratory (1)
  • GEL 050 Physical Geology  (3)
  • GEL 050L Physical Geology Laboratory (2)
  • GEL 060 Earth Materials: Introduction (4)
  • MAT 016A Short Calculus (3)
  • MAT 016B Short Calculus (3) or MAT 021A Calculus (4)
  • MAT 021B Calculus (4)
  • CHE 002A General Chemistry (5)
  • CHE 002B General Chemistry (5)
  • PHY 007A General Physics (4)
  • PHY 007B General Physics (4)
  • Choose one: (4)
    • STA 013 Elementary Statistics (4)
    • STA 032 Gateway to Statistical Data Science (4)
    • STA 100 Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences (4)
Depth Subject Matter: 36 units
  • GEL 101 Structural Geology (3)
  • GEL 101L Structural Geology Lab (2)
  • GEL 103 Field Geology (3)
  • GEL 107 Earth History: Paleobiology (3)
  • GEL 107L Earth History: Paleobiology Laboratory (2)
  • GEL 108 Earth History: Paleoclimates (3)
  • GEL 109 Earth History: Sediments and Strata (2)
  • GEL 109L Earth History: Sediments and Strata Laboratory (2)
  • Choose additional upper division electives from the following list: (16)
    • GEL 130-194 courses (only one of GEL/EDU 181 or GEL/EDU 183 or 185A or 185B or 186 may be applied toward elective credit),
    • HYD 144, 146 and related fields approved in advance by major advisor.
    • No more than three units upper division elective credit for GEL 115-120 courses.
    • Maximum of six units upper division elective credit for GEL 192 or 194A-194B or 194HA-194HB.
Total Units: 77-79

Geology Major

Geology is the study of the Earth, and in particular its history, structure, and the processes that have molded our planet and its biosphere. Geology involves the origin of continents and ocean basins, earthquakes and volcanoes, variations in global climate, and how these physical changes impact the evolution of life. All of these planetary processes are viewed through the prism of “deep time,” a perspective unique to geologists and one that distinguishes geology from most of the other physical sciences.

A significant component of geology is oriented toward the interaction between humans and the Earth. This aspect includes the study of resources such as minerals, oil, and water; identification and mitigation of Earth hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, and volcanic eruptions; identification and mitigation of polluted ground water; land use planning; and the study of ancient and modern climate change.

Students interested in becoming professional geologists or continuing their geological studies at the graduate level should choose the Bachelor of Science degree program. The Bachelor of Arts program is for students interested in an interdisciplinary program of study, or who plan to go into pre-college teaching. Both programs allow students to emphasize an aspect of the field of particular interest to them.