Undergraduate teaching and training program


the teaching aims

  • to provide undergraduate and postgraduate students with a broad, integrative understanding of Earth architecture and processes, bridging the discipline boundaries of geology and geophysics
  • to train undergraduate and postgraduate students in new conceptual approaches and the applications of advanced technology, including geochemical analysis techniques and the integrated field and laboratory use of geographic information systems (GIS)
  • to develop international links in teaching programs (especially postgraduate) relevant to GEMOC's goals
  • to develop formal tailored coursework components at postgraduate level which also can be packaged for distance education delivery and as short courses available to the mining industry
  • to enhance the pool of high quality geoscience graduates by restructuring academic programs to attract a new clientele

undergraduate training

The teaching program has four short-term objectives in addition to the overall teaching aims outlined above:

  • to reform the undergraduate curriculum
  • to strengthen Geophysics training
  • to introduce GIS-based philosophy and practice to both fieldwork and laboratory work
  • to introduce a general-interest course to attract different clientele

actions 1997

curriculum development

GEMOC aims to promote geoscience as an interesting, vital area which is a relevant and essential part of today's world. Changes have been introduced in undergraduate teaching to

  • attract a wider clientele to the geosciences
  • provide a new distinctive professional degree in Exploration Geoscience for academically excellent students
  • develop a continuing interest in geoscience within the student body
  • create a more flexible structure which will cater to the needs of individual students
  • introduce learning tasks that promote deeper level of understanding of the subject material

In 1997 at Macquarie

A major structural change is the amalgamation of the two administrative Areas of "Geology" and "Geophysics and Mining" into "Geology and Geophysics". This new structure will further GEMOC's goals of interdisciplinary linkages in teaching and research and in promoting Geophysics.

In 1997, changes were made within units of study and significant changes in the undergraduate degree structure were formally ratified at Macquarie for implementation from 1998.

  • In Planet Earth (GEOS 112) (a broad first year unit encouraging participation of students across all disciplines in the University and taught in cooperation with the Physical Geography area) a voluntary field trip was introduced. Staff, with the help of GEMOC postgraduate students, guided a successful hands-on 3-day excursion in the Blue Mountains, aimed at promoting interest in the Earth Sciences.
  • In Materials of the Earth (GEOS 115), the mainstream Geology unit in first year, continuing curriculum development reflected the changing interests of students, including
    • incorporating lectures and practicals in hydrogeology, engineering geology and environmental geology, and increasing the emphasis on map reading skills
    • use of CD-ROMs and virtual fieldtrips to lead the students through topics with reinforcement by more conventional teaching methods. A significant amount of lecture and background information was made available through the Worldwide Web
    • consolidating the small group teaching environment for tutorials trialled in 1997
    • changing the title from 1999 to "Earth Dynamics, Materials and the Environment" to reflect the changing content and to appeal to more students
    • upgraded teaching facilities including networking benches for teaching via the web
  • Earth's Evolving Environment (GEOS 272) ran for the second time with the introduction in 1997 of a distance teaching option using the Internet. This new second year unit has achieved its aim of attracting a wider clientele to Geoscience, with 70 students in 1997.
  • Minerals, Energy and the Environment (GEOS 251) was redesigned in 1997 and is being offered in 1998 by GEMOC Lecturer Dr Simon Jackson. This unit is planned to reach a broad segment of students including those in Economics and Law.
  • 300-level unit changes have made student choice simpler and relocated some units (with appropriate change in content) to 400-level to be accessible by postgraduate students
*Volcanic Geology Fieldwork (GEOS 373) runs as a discrete unit for the first time in 1998. This unit will alternate annually between an ancient volcanic area in eastern Australia and a modern one in New Zealand.
*Global Earth Processes (GEOS 436) is offered for the first time in 1998 and is a thematic unit based on GEMOC's interdisciplinary philosophy
*Exploration and Environmental Geochemistry (GEOS 377) is a new unit designed to be part of the new Bachelor of Technology (Exploration Geoscience) degree and the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Technology in Analytical Geochemistry in cooperation with the School of Chemistry
*Metallogeny of Continents is a new unit approved to start in 1998, reflecting GEMOC's industry relevance in teaching. It will be multifunctional as a part of the new Bachelor of Technology (Exploration Geoscience) degree and a unit in the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Resources and Environmental Science
  • Geochemical Applications (GEOS 437), is a new formal multifunctional unit designed to be a part of the new interdisciplinary Bachelor of Technology in Analytical Geochemistry in cooperation with the School of Chemistry. This unit also services Honours and postgraduate students requiring training in advanced technology and is available for senior students across SUCOGG and other national universities.
  • A new formal postgraduate unit "Advanced Geochemical Applications" has been introduced for 1998. This utilises GEMOC's high-technology facilities in the Geochemical Analysis Unit.
  • A new named degree, Bachelor of Science in Geophysics is offered starting 1998.
  • A new degree Bachelor of Technology in Exploration Geoscience was formally ratified by the appropriate University committees in 1997 at Macquarie and is offered starting 1998. This degree was set up in consultation with the GEMOC Board and with Mr Ian Levy from the Australian Institute of Geosciences, an official accreditation organisation in Geoscience. This is a structured degree (see flow sheet, Appendix 6) aiming to provide excellent graduates for geoscience employment. A high entry requirement is set to attract outstanding students.
  • Flow sheets of course structures (Appendix 6) have been prepared to assist students with enrolment decisions.

Outcomes at Macquarie, 1997

As 1997 was the second year of GEMOC, it is difficult to measure performance indicators in teaching. Many changes are being implemented in 1998. An indication of increased visibility and in teaching quality may be reflected in retention rates of students in core Geology and Geophysics units as shown in the graph (note Geophysics students are streamed from second year only).

In 1997 at the ANU

  • a single introductory Earth science unit (Earth Systems SREM1002) was offered for the first time in cooperation with the Department of Geography, followed by streaming of interests in second semester units. All lecture notes and visual aids were installed on a web page for access by enrolled students.
  • in the Field Geology (GEOL3001) unit, computerised acquisition of mapped information and subsequent analysis and data integration with GIS techniques were introduced.
  • explicit introduction of geochemistry as a primary component of 2nd year units was achieved, in Petrology (GEOL2004), Sedimentology, Resources, and Biochemical Cycles (GEOL2007), and Mineralogy and Geochemistry (GEOL2009).
  • continued acquisition of work station hardware coupled with software upgrades allowed a larger group of students to enrol in the Geologic Information Systems Course (GEOL3009). The approach used combines conventional modes of instruction (lectures, hand-outs, assignments) with hypertext instruction via the World Wide Web (WWW). Cross-referenced pages of hypertext markup language (html) on GIS, image processing and remote sensing are provided for students to access through a normal WWW browser program such as Netscape. Students run Netscape in a window on their computer alongside the Arc/Info windows.
  • all Honours students for the first time produced their maps using computer techniques.

Geographic Information Systems in teaching

GIS technology is used widely within the resource sector and we aim to produce graduates who are experienced with the approach and the application of GIS software. To this end we have worked in the following ways in 1997.

  • Introduction of GIS-based practicals into undergraduate teaching at Macquarie. A GIS component has been introduced into Introduction to Field Geology (GEOS224). Students collect data in the field using GPS units and are guided through a simple data entry and manipulation exercise. More complex student-centred practicals using GIS are being set up for subsequent courses in second and third year.
  • Purchase of lap-top computers ($65,000 grant from Macquarie for 1997 and $60,503 for 1998) and MapInfo® software for routine use in the field and classroom. This facility will be used for data management, image analysis and spatially-based databases. Refurbishment of a dedicated room has been carried out to provide networking and teaching via the html environment. In the field the computers allow rapid on-site analysis of data and use of GIS in mapping and field interpretation.
  • introduction of a new 3rd year unit at the ANU (Geologic Information Systems: GEOL3009) incorporating computer-based analysis of remotely- and directly-acquired geologic and geophysical data
  • Micro-GIS (see Technology Development) is incorporated into the Geochemistry strand of Bachelor of Technology at third year ($33,000 for 1998 has been funded by Macquarie University to provide a microscope with digitised image capture to assist this purpose)


The world wide web is delivering information into the home and workplace. Clients of the web include students, researchers and companies within Australia and overseas. Web pages have been set up for both GEMOC and the Geology area. These are linked to sites of CSIRO partners.




These sites aim to

  • promote geosciences to students, researchers and the wider community
  • provide information on Geology courses at Macquarie and ANU
  • promote the research and technical activities of GEMOC
  • introduce staff of GEMOC and Geology

To attract more high quality geoscience graduates, GEMOC has targeted high school students, geology teachers and careers advisers. Emphasis is placed on the variety, flexibility and interesting nature of jobs available. The need for geoscience-trained graduates in "non-traditional" jobs such as the public service and other decision-making areas and in environmental-related jobs into the next vital decade is promoted.

The high entry requirement for the Bachelor of Technology in Exploration Geoscience emphasises this is a prestigious professional degree strand to attract outstanding students.

Through 1997 we have:

  • prepared informative, colourful brochures about geology/geophysics undergraduate courses
  • prepared multi-purpose displays about geology and geophysics and job-information bulletin boards
  • promoted careers in Earth Science via information days for Earth Science teachers and careers advisers
  • placed a member on the Earth Science Education Facility Steering Committee
  • attended careers market days for local high school students
  • organised talks on careers in geoscience at local high schools
  • chaired the Geology panel for the NSW Board of Studies Years 11 and 12 Science Symposium
  • placed a member on the HSC Geology Examination Committee

staffing actions relevant to undergraduate teaching

Chair of Geology at Macquarie

  • Chair of Geology at Macquarie (in a field relevant to GEMOC) has been accepted by Professor Paul Morgan from the University of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. He has broad experience in teaching and research across geology and geophysics with special expertise in the thermal state of the Earth and other planets.

Lecturing staff at Macquarie

  • Dr Simon Jackson has responsibilities including development of ICPMS and laser-ablation facilities and applications, technology transfer to the mineral and exploration industry as well as teaching. He has research expertise metallogeny, fluid systems, crustal evolution and trace element geochemistry.
  • Dr John Ridley has experience with a strong theoretical basis in aqueous geochemistry; fluid dynamics and metamorphism; tectonic and structural controls of fluid movement and ore deposition; isotopic characteristics of metamorphic fluids; mantle/crust/hydrosphere interactions; active ore-forming environments. He will have responsibility for industry interaction and for teaching in these areas.

Lecturing staff at ANU

  • Professor Stephen Cox and Dr John Mavrogenes were joint appointments commencing in 1998 with the Research School of Earth Sciences, completing the first joint staff recruitment of the Department of Geology and the Research School of Earth Sciences. This emphasises the mutual recognition of common interests in the understanding of fluid transport in the Earth, particularly in the genesis of ore deposits, for both research and teaching.

GEMOC honours

GEMOC offers scholarships for students with excellent undergraduate records who are carrying out GEMOC-related projects.

The following projects were completed in 1997 with GEMOC Honours Scholarships

(Three first class Honours at Macquarie)


Tim Chambers: Tertiary volcanic history of the Mount Royal Ranges

Venessa Bennett: A re-evaluation of the Great Serpentinite Belt and surrounding rocks and the tectonic significance to the Peel Fault

Tom Nicholson: Petrology, magnetic characteristics, metamorphic aureole and shape of the Termeil gabbro

Mark Pirlo: Silica heat flow and groundwater geochemistry


Margaret Chorley: Granite petrogenesis and associated mineralisation in the Tenterfield Region, NSW

Megan James: Granite petrogenesis and associated mineralisation west of Wellington, NSW

Ian McIntosh: Experimental studies of sulfide stability in the ore bodies of Broken Hill, NSW

Carl Spandler: Spinel and PGE geochemistry of the Greenhills Complex, New Zealand

The following projects relevant to GEMOC have been set up for 1998


Matthew Greentree: The Mostyn Vale Formation, Keepit Dam: the flank of an ocean island andesitic volcano

James Austin: The structure of the Merimbula Group

Michael Burke: Integration of xenolith and seismic data to define the nature of the Moho discontinuity under the Lachlan Fold Belt and Sydney Basin

Andrew Stewart: Stratigraphy, structure and vent location of the Emmaville volcanics east of Deepwater.

Sarah Webster: The Forest Reefs Volcanic Centre

John Bus: Starting mid-1998

Nicole Patison: Starting mid-1998