Down to Earth: An Introduction to Geology (Sunday)

Course summary

Down to Earth: An Introduction to Geology (Sunday)


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.

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

You are very welcome to bring along any of your own geological specimens which you would like to be identified or which you think are of special interest. 

Maximum number of places available: 25 each day. Please note that this is not a two-day course.

Programme details

9.15am Registration

9.30am Plate tectonics - a unifying concept in Earth Sciences

10.45am  Coffee/tea

11.15am Rocks and minerals and how to identify them

12.30pm Break/Lunch

2.00pm  Practical session – studying geological specimens in the teaching room (~ 30 minutes)

               Fossils - their preservation and how to identify the common ones (~ 45 mins)

3.15pm   Tea/coffee

3.45pm  The geological history of Britain

5.15pm   Course disperses 


Accommodation is often available in Rewley House for those who wish to stay on the night before a course. Please contact our Residential Centre on 01865 270362 for details for availability and prices.


Tuition (includes Coffee/tea): £76.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Peter R Sheldon


Dr Peter Sheldon is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems 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 40 day-schools for OUDCE at Rewley House since 1993.