Earth and Planetary Sciences Major

The academic program aims to cover the breadth of geologic sub-disciplines, hone the skills necessary to succeed in Earth Science careers, and allow for choice based on student interests. Courses may include theory, descriptive studies, data analysis, computer modeling, laboratory exercises, and field training.

Students are encouraged to take the 200-level foundation courses as early as possible, but they need not be taken in sequence.

Students planning to attend graduate school are strongly encouraged to conduct independent study (EARTH 399-0 Independent Study).

Major Requirements: Department Courses (12 Units)

4 200-level Core Courses (4 units)

Course Title
EARTH 201-0Earth Systems Revealed
EARTH 202-0Earth's Interior
EARTH 203-0Earth System History
EARTH 204-0Communication for Geoscientists

8 300-level Advanced Studies Courses (8 units)

At least one course must be from 4 of the 8 Sub-Discipline Requirement lists (see list below), and at least one course must be from each of the 3 Skills Requirement lists (see list below). Additional Advanced Studies courses to the required total of 8 may be any EARTH 300 or 400 level, but only one EARTH 399-0 Independent Study may be counted toward the major.

Sub-Discipline Requirement (4 courses) 

At least one course from 4 of the 8 sub-disciplines.

Earth Materials

Course Title
EARTH 300-0Earth and Planetary Materials
EARTH 301-0Petrology: Evolution of Crustal and Mantle Rocks
EARTH 302-0Geological Thermodynamics

Geochemistry

Course Title
EARTH 310-0Aqueous Geochemistry
EARTH 312-0Stable Isotope Geochemistry
EARTH 313-0Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry
EARTH 314-0Organic Geochemistry

 Seismology

Course Title
EARTH 323-0Seismology and Earth Structure
EARTH 324-0Earthquakes and Tectonics
EARTH 327-0Geophysical Time Series Analysis

 Geology

Course Title
EARTH 330-0Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 331-0Field Problems in Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 335-0Tectonics and Structural Geology

 Climate/Paleoclimate

Course Title
EARTH 340-0Atmospheric Physics & Weather
EARTH 341-0Quaternary Climate Change: Ice Ages to the Age of Oil
EARTH 342-0Contemporary Energy and Climate Change
EARTH 343-0Earth System Modeling

 Geophysics

Course Title
EARTH 350-0Physics of the Earth
EARTH 352-0Global Tectonics
EARTH 353-0Mathematical Inverse Methods in Earth and Environmental Sciences

 Geobiology

Course Title
EARTH 370-0Geobiology
EARTH 371-0Biogeochemistry
EARTH 373-0Microbial Ecology

 Planetary

Course Title
EARTH 380-0Forming a Habitable Planet
EARTH 381-0Planet Formation and Evolution
EARTH 382-0Cosmochemistry
EARTH 383-0Planetary Physics

Skills Requirement (3 courses) 

At least one course from each of the 3 categories. No course may be counted in more than one skills category. 

Quantitative

Course Title
EARTH 302-0Geological Thermodynamics
EARTH 310-0Aqueous Geochemistry
EARTH 327-0Geophysical Time Series Analysis
EARTH 343-0Earth System Modeling
EARTH 353-0Mathematical Inverse Methods in Earth and Environmental Sciences
EARTH 362-0Data Analysis for Earth and Planetary Sciences

 Spatial Reasoning

Course Title
EARTH 300-0Earth and Planetary Materials
EARTH 330-0Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 335-0Tectonics and Structural Geology
EARTH 361-0Introduction to Scientific Programming in Python

 Analytical/Instrumentation/Field

Course Title
EARTH 331-0Field Problems in Sedimentary Geology
EARTH 343-0Earth System Modeling
EARTH 360-0Instrumentation and Field Methods
EARTH 361-0Introduction to Scientific Programming in Python

In certain cases, the Director of Undergraduate Studies may approve additional eligible courses for the Sub-Discipline and Skills Requirement course lists.

Major Requirements: Related Courses (9.34-12.04 Units)

Math Courses (3-4 depending on sequence)

Course Title
MATH 220-0
MATH 224-0
Differential Calculus of One-Variable Functions
and Integral Calculus of One-Variable Functions
or MATH 212-0
MATH 213-0
MATH 214-0
Single Variable Calculus I
and Single Variable Calculus II
and Single Variable Calculus III
MATH 230-0Differential Calculus of Multivariable Functions
or equivalent

6 Additional Related Math and Science Courses

Any 6 of the following math and science lectures or lecture/lab combinations may count toward this requirement.1

Course Title
CHEM 131-0
CHEM 141-0
General Chemistry 1
and General Chemistry Laboratory 1
CHEM 132-0
CHEM 142-0
General Chemistry 2
and General Chemistry Laboratory 2
CHEM 151-0
CHEM 161-0
Accelerated General Chemistry 1
and Accelerated General Chemistry Laboratory 1
CHEM 152-0
CHEM 162-0
Accelerated General Chemistry 2
and Accelerated General Chemistry Laboratory 2
CHEM 171-0
CHEM 181-0
Advanced General Inorganic Chemistry
and Advanced General Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM 172-0
CHEM 182-0
Advanced General Physical Chemistry
and Advanced General Physical Chemistry Laboratory
PHYSICS 135-1
PHYSICS 136-1
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
PHYSICS 135-2
PHYSICS 136-2
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
PHYSICS 135-3
PHYSICS 136-3
General Physics
and General Physics Laboratory
BIOL_SCI 215-0
BIOL_SCI 220-0
Genetics and Molecular Biology
and Genetics and Molecular Processes Laboratory 2
BIOL_SCI 219-0
BIOL_SCI 221-0
Cell Biology
and Cellular Processes Laboratory 2
MATH 234-0Multiple Integration and Vector Calculus
MATH 240-0Linear Algebra
MATH 250-0Elementary Differential Equations

Honors in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Majors with strong academic records and an interest in pursuing honors should discuss possible projects with an appropriate faculty member or the director of undergraduate studies as early as possible, but no later than fall of senior year. After a proposed project is approved by the undergraduate adviser, the research is conducted as 2 quarters of EARTH 399-0 Independent Study or as 1 quarter of EARTH 399-0 and 1 quarter of a 400-level course; the student prepares a thesis based on this research. One quarter of EARTH 399-0 counts toward the major requirements; the second quarter of thesis work (EARTH 399-0 or a 400-level course) does not.

Students whose projects and grades meet department criteria are recommended to the college for graduation with honors. For more information, students should contact the director of undergraduate studies or their research advisers and see Honors in the Major.