Down to Earth: An Introduction to Geology


A wide-ranging introduction to geology for beginners. Topics include:

  •  plate tectonics: a framework to explain volcanoes and earthquakes, mountains and oceans
  •  rocks and minerals: how they form and how to recognise the common ones
  •  fossils: their preservation, use in geology, and how to identify those most commonly found
  •  the geological history of Britain: key events from Britain’s long and dramatic past, during which it has been torn by earthquakes, scorched by volcanoes, scraped by ice, covered with seas and raised to high mountains.

There will also be a chance to study many real geological specimens in the teaching room. You are very welcome to bring along your own geological specimens which you would like to be identified or which you think are of special interest.

No previous background in geology is needed and no reading is required in advance.

A repeat of this day school is also taking place on Sunday 6 October 2024.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 2 October 2024.

Programme details


Plate tectonics – a unifying concept in Earth Sciences

Tea/coffee break

Rocks and minerals and how to identify them

Lunch break


  • Practical session (~30 mins) studying geological specimens in the teaching room
  • Fossils – their preservation and how to identify the common ones (~45 mins)

Tea/coffee break

The geological history of Britain

End of day


Description Costs
Course Fee (includes tea/coffee) £125.00
Baguette £7.30
Hot lunch (three courses) £19.25


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Peter Sheldon

Peter Sheldon is an Honorary Associate in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Open University, where he was a Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences until 2015. He chaired the Open University course on Geology and contributed to many other OU courses. He has given over 80 courses in geology, palaeontology and evolution for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education since 1979 and over 40 day-schools for OUDCE at Rewley House since 1993.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.