The Geological History of Britain


A wide-ranging introduction to this fascinating subject for beginners.

Almost everywhere in the British Isles has at some time been torn by earthquakes, scorched by volcanoes, scraped by ice, covered by seas or raised to high mountains.

Did you know we were once 60 degrees south of the Equator?

We will piece together the evidence for this dramatic story from the rocks, minerals and fossils found all over the country, using basic geological principles to unravel the sequence of events.

There will also be a chance to study many geological specimens, maps and books put out 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 your own geological specimens which you would like to be identified or which you think are of special interest.

The maximum number of places available: 25

Programme details

9.15am Registration

9.30am Introduction: Unravelling history from rocks.

Basic geological principles. The oldest rocks in Britain.

10.45am Coffee / tea

11.15am Life south of the Equator: a disappearing ocean, volcanic islands, colliding continents, and massive mountains

12.30pm Lunch / break

2.00pm Practical session (~30 mins) - studying geological specimens and maps in the teaching room.

Tropical seas, swampy forests and baking deserts (~45 mins)

3.15pm Tea / Coffee

3.45pm When dinosaurs reigned. The Chalk sea. The slow move northwards.

Climatic havoc, glaciers, and the future?

5.15pm Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition (includes coffee/tea) £90.00
Baguette lunch £5.50
Hot Lunch £15.50


If you are in receipt of a UK 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 Sheldon

Course tutor

Dr 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.


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.