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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 Units: 52-55

Geology 19 Units

  • GEL 050 Physical Geology 3
  • GEL 050L Physical Geology Laboratory 2
  • GEL 053 Introduction to Geobiology 3
  • GEL 055 Introduction to Geochemistry 3
  • GEL 056 Introduction to Geophysics 4
  • GEL 060 Earth Materials: Introduction 4

Mathematics; choose MAT 017 series or MAT 021A-B & 022A or MAT 016 series & 022A: 11-12 Units

  • MAT 017A Calculus for Biology & Medicine 4
  • MAT 017B Calculus for Biology & Medicine 4
  • MAT 017C Calculus for Biology & Medicine 4

OR

  • MAT 021A Calculus 4
  • MAT 021B Calculus 4
  • MAT 022A Linear Algebra 3

OR

  • MAT 016A Short Calculus 3
  • MAT 016B Short Calculus 3
  • MAT 016C Short Calculus 3
  • MAT 022A Linear Algebra 3

Chemistry 10 Units

  • CHE 002A General Chemistry 5
  • CHE 002B General Chemistry 5

Statistics; choose one: 4 Units

  • STA 013 Elementary Statistics 4
  • STA 032 Gateway to Statistical Data Science 4
  • STA 100 Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences 4

Physics; choose a series: 8-10 Units

  • PHY 007A General Physics 4
  • PHY 007B General Physics 4

OR

  • PHY 009A Classical Physics 5
  • PHY 009B Classical Physics 5

Depth Subject Matter Units: 52-54

Geology Courses 26 Units

  • GEL 101 Structural Geology 3
  • GEL 101L Structural Geology Lab 2
  • GEL 103 Field Geology 4
  • GEL 105 Earth Materials: Igneous 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 & Strata 3
  • GEL 109L Earth History: Sediments & Strata Laboratory 2

Upper Division Electives 18 Units

Choose from courses GEL 130-194 or pre-selected non-GEL courses. Only one of GEL/EDU 181 or GEL/EDU 183 or GEL 185A or 185B or 186 may be applied toward elective credit. Pre-selected non-GEL courses in related fields: CHE 100, ECI 171/171L, ECI 175, ESM 100, ESM 186, ESP 152, HYD 144, HYD 146, LDA/ABT 150, SSC 100, WFC 102. Other courses in related fields must be approved in advance by the major advisor. No more than three units of upper division elective credit for courses GEL 115-120. No more than six units of upper division elective credit for GEL 192 or 194A-194B or 194HA-194HB. Students who receive approval to do a senior thesis for part of the capstone requirement may not use 194A-194B or 194HA-194HB for the upper division elective courses.

  • GEL 133 Environmental Geochemistry 3
  • GEL 134 Environmental Geology & Land Use Planning 3
  • GEL 136 Ecogeomorphology of Rivers & Streams 5
  • GEL 138 Introductory Volcanology 4
  • GEL 139 Rivers: Form, Function & Management 4
  • GEL 140 Introduction to Process Geomorphology 4
  • GEL 141 Evolutionary History of Vertebrates 3
  • GEL 142 Basin Analysis 3
  • GEL 143 Advanced Igneous Petrology 5
  • GEL 144 Historical Ecology 3
  • GEL 145 Advanced Metamorphic Petrology 5
  • GEL 146 Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry & Cosmochemistry 3
  • GEL 147 Geology of Ore Deposits 4
  • GEL 148 Stable Isotopes & Geochemical Tracers 3
  • GEL 149 Geothermal Systems 3
  • GEL 150A Physical & Chemical Oceanography 4
  • GEL 150B Geological Oceanography 3
  • GEL 150C Biological Oceanography 4
  • GEL 152 Paleobiology of Protista 4
  • GEL 156 Hydrogeology & Contaminant Transport 5
  • GEL 160 Geological Data Analysis 3
  • GEL 161 Geophysical Field Methods 3
  • GEL 162 Geophysics of the Solid Earth 3
  • GEL 163 Planetary Geology & Geophysics 3
  • GEL 175 Advanced Field Geology  3
  • GEL/EDU 181 Teaching in Science & Mathematics 2
  • GEL 182 Field Studies in Marine Geochemistry 2-8
  • GEL/EDU 183 Teaching High School Mathematics & Science 3
  • GEL 185A Conceptual Integrated Science for Non-Science Majors: The Physical World 2
  • GEL 185B Conceptual Integrated Science for Non-Science Majors: Earth System Science 2
  • GEL 186 Facilitating Learning in STEM Classrooms 1
  • GEL 190 Seminar in Geology 1
  • GEL 192 Internship in Geology 1-12
  • GEL 194A Senior Thesis 3
  • GEL 194B Senior Thesis 3
  • GEL 194HA Senior Honors Project 3
  • GEL 194HB Senior Honors Project 3
  • Pre-Selected Non-GEL Courses
    • CHE 100 Environmental Water Chemistry 3
    • ECI 171 Soil Mechanics 4 
    • ECI 171L Soil Mechanics Laboratory 1
    • ECI 175 Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering 4
    • ESM 100 Principles of Hydrologic Science 4
    • ESM 186 Environmental Remote Sensing 5
    • ESP 152 Coastal Oceanography 3
    • HYD 144 Groundwater Hydrology 4
    • HYD 146 Hydrogeology & Contaminant Transport 5
    • ABT/LDA 150 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
  • SSC 100 Principles of Soil Science 5
  • WFC 102 Field Studies in Fish Biology 1

Capstone 8-10 Units

Choose two summer field courses. A senior thesis may only be substituted for one of the summer field courses with the consent of the thesis advisor and an undergraduate advisor. The decision to undertake a thesis in lieu of a summer field course must be declared by the end of the spring term of a student’s junior year.

  • Choose two: 8-10 Units
            GEL 110C Summer Field Geology: Special Projects 4
            GEL 110B Summer Field Geology: Volcanology 4
            GEL 110A Summer Field Geology: Structures & Neotectonics 4
            Choose a series: 6 Units
                    GEL 194A Senior Thesis 3
                    GEL 194B Senior Thesis 3
                    GEL 194HA Senior Honors Project 3
                    GEL 194HB Senior Honors Project 3

Total: 104-109 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.

updated 11/25/2019

Preparatory Subject Matter Units: 43-45

Geology 15

  • GEL 050 Physical Geology 3
  • GEL 050L Physical Geology Laboratory 2
  • GEL 053 Introduction to Geobiology 3
  • GEL 055 Introduction to Geochemistry 3
  • GEL 060 Earth Materials: Introduction 4

Mathematics; choose one series: 6-8

  • MAT 016A Short Calculus 3
  • MAT 016B Short Calculus 3

OR

  • MAT 017A Calculus for Biology & Medicine 4
  • MAT 017B Calculus for Biology & Medicine 4

OR

  • MAT 021A Calculus 4
  • MAT 021B Calculus 4

Chemistry 10

  • CHE 002A General Chemistry 5
  • CHE 002B General Chemistry 5

Physics 8

  • PHY 007A General Physics 4
  • PHY 007B General Physics 4

Statistics; 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 Units: 36

Geology 22

  • GEL 101 Structural Geology 3
  • GEL 101L Structural Geology Lab 2
  • GEL 103 Field Geology 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 & Strata 3
  • GEL 109L Earth History: Sediments & Strata Laboratory 2

Upper Division Electives 14

Choose from courses GEL 130-194 or pre-selected non-GEL courses. Only one of GEL/EDU 181 or GEL/EDU 183 or GEL 185A or 185B or 186 may be applied toward elective credit. Pre-selected non-GEL courses: CHE 100, ECI 171/171L, ESM 100, ESM 186, ESP 152, HYD 144, HYD 146, LDA/ABT 150, SSC 100, WFC 102/102L. Other courses in related fields must be approved in advance by the major advisor. No more than three units of upper division elective credit for courses GEL 115-120. No more than six units of upper division elective credit for GEL 192 or 194A-194B or 194HA-194HB.

  • GEL 130 Non-Renewable Natural Resources 3
  • GEL 131 Risk: Natural Hazards & Related Phenomena 3
  • GEL 132 Introductory Inorganic Geochemistry 3
  • GEL 133 Environmental Geochemistry 3
  • GEL 134 Environmental Geology & Land Use Planning 3
  • GEL 136 Ecogeomorphology of Rivers & Streams 5
  • GEL 138 Introductory Volcanology 4
  • GEL 139 Rivers: Form, Function & Management 4
  • GEL 140 Introduction to Process Geomorphology 4
  • GEL 141 Evolutionary History of Vertebrates 3
  • GEL 142 Basin Analysis 3
  • GEL 143 Advanced Igneous Petrology 5
  • GEL 144 Historical Ecology 3
  • GEL 145 Advanced Metamorphic Petrology 5
  • GEL 146 Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry & Cosmochemistry 3
  • GEL 147 Geology of Ore Deposits 4
  • GEL 148 Stable Isotopes & Geochemical Tracers 3
  • GEL 149 Geothermal Systems 3
  • GEL 150A Physical & Chemical Oceanography 4
  • GEL 150B Geological Oceanography 3
  • GEL 150C Biological Oceanography 4
  • GEL 152 Paleobiology of Protista 4
  • GEL 156 Hydrogeology & Contaminant Transport 5
  • GEL 160 Geological Data Analysis 3
  • GEL 161 Geophysical Field Methods 3
  • GEL 162 Geophysics of the Solid Earth 3
  • GEL 163 Planetary Geology & Geophysics 3
  • GEL 175 Advanced Field Geology  3
  • GEL/EDU 181 Teaching in Science & Mathematics 2
  • GEL 182 Field Studies in Marine Geochemistry 2-8
  • GEL/EDU 183 Teaching High School Mathematics & Science 3
  • GEL 185A Conceptual Integrated Science for Non-Science Majors: The Physical World 2
  • GEL 185B Conceptual Integrated Science for Non-Science Majors: Earth System Science 2
  • GEL 186 Facilitating Learning in STEM Classrooms 1
  • GEL 190 Seminar in Geology  1
  • GEL 192 Internship in Geology 1-12
  • GEL 194A Senior Thesis 3
  • GEL 194B Senior Thesis 3
  • GEL 194HA Senior Honors Project 3
  • GEL 194HB Senior Honors Project 3
  • Pre-Selected Non-GEL Courses
    • CHE 100 Environmental Water Chemistry 3
    • ECI 171 Soil Mechanics 4
    • ECI 171L Soil Mechanics Laboratory 1
    • ESM 100 Principles of Hydrologic Science 4
    • ESM 186 Environmental Remote Sensing 5
    • ESP 152 Coastal Oceanography 3
    • HYD 144 Groundwater Hydrology 4
    • HYD 146 Hydrogeology & Contaminant Transport 5
    • ABT/LDA 150 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
    • SSC 100 Principles of Soil Science 5
    • WFC 102 Field Studies in Fish Biology 1
    • WFC 102L Field Studies in Fish Biology: Laboratory 6

Total: 79-81

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.