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Department of Geology
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: (610) 526-7392
Fax: (610) 526-5086

Program Requirements and Opportunities

The information listed below is a direct excerpt from the 2014-15 Course Catalog.

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

2013-14 Catalog
2012-13 Catalog
2011-12 Catalog
2010-11 Catalog



Students may complete a major or minor in Geology. Within the major, students may complete concentrations in geoarchaeology or geochemistry.

The department seeks to give students a well-rounded earth science education that balances fundamental knowledge of geology with broadly applicable problem-solving and communication skills. The integrated science of geology combines biology, chemistry and physics as they apply to the workings of Earth and other planets. Well-trained geoscientists are increasingly in demand to address the environmental challenges and natural resource limitations of the modern world. A central tenet for understanding and predicting Earth processes and environmental change is the ability to decipher past Earth history from geologic records. Thus the major in Geology includes study of the physics and chemistry of Earth materials and processes; the history of the Earth and its organisms; and the range of techniques used to investigate the past and present workings of the Earth system. Field and lab experiences are essential parts of geology training, and at Bryn Mawr field trips and lab work are part of all introductory courses, most other classes, and most independent research projects.

Major Requirements

Thirteen courses are required for the major: GEOL 101 and 102 or 103; 202, 203, 204, and 205; at least two semesters of quantitative or computational coursework, e.g., MATH 101 and 102 or alternates approved by the adviser; a two semester sequence of CHEM (103-104) or PHYS (101-102 or 121-122); GEOL 399; and either two advanced geology courses or one advanced geology course and an additional upper-level course in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, or computer science.

Additional courses in the allied sciences are strongly recommended and are required by most graduate schools. A student who wishes to follow a career in geology should plan to attend a summer field course, usually following the completion of the 200-level courses.

All geology majors participate in a senior capstone experience (GEOL 399), which is structured into a two-semester seminar that meets weekly for 1.5 hours for a total of 1.0 credit (0.5 credits per semester). The focus of the capstone seminar is to reinforce students' ability to address geoscience questions and to communicate their findings in writing and orally. The team-taught senior seminar integrates the student's major curriculum with weekly speakers or peer-led discussions on cutting edge research, and the impact and relevance of geology to modern society.

Thesis

At the discretion of the department faculty, rising seniors may undertake an independent thesis project (GEOL 403) in addition to mandatory full participation in the senior capstone seminar (GEOL 399). Student thesis projects must be supervised by a faculty advisor. The senior thesis is modeled after a Master's thesis project, but is scaled down for the different time frame (one year versus two years) and educational level of a senior undergraduate student. The thesis project plan is initially developed and agreed upon through consultation between the supervising faculty member(s) and the student. Most of the research is conducted independently by the student. The advisor serves as a source of ideas concerning scientific literature, methodologies and project support. The advisor may visit and inspect the research sites, laboratory or model, and offer advice on how the research should be conducted or modified.

If approved to undertake a senior thesis, a student will enroll in GEOL 403 each of her final two semesters for a total of 1.0 credit (0.5 credits per semester). The thesis option adds the equivalent of one course to the standard Geology major requirements. The first semester will focus on thesis topic formulation, background research and initiation of appropriate data acquisition. At the end of the first semester, the student must submit a formal written project proposal to department faculty members. This research proposal must demonstrate the student's ability to successfully complete her thesis during the following semester. Following review of submitted proposals, students or faculty members may choose or recommend, respectively, not to complete the independent thesis, in which case the student would not enroll for the second semester of GEOL 403.

Honors

Honors are awarded to students who have outstanding academic records in geology and allied fields, and whose research is judged by the faculty of the department to be of the highest quality.

Minor Requirements

A minor in geology consists of two 100-level geology courses, and any four of the 200- or 300-level courses offered by the department. Two 0.5 credit courses may be combined to count toward one of the 100-level courses. Alternatively, an additional 200- or 300-level course may be substituted for one of the 100-level courses to meet the minor requirements.

Concentration in Geoarchaeology

The geoarchaeology concentration allows students majoring in anthropology, archaeology, or geology to explore the connections among these fields with respect to how our human ancestors interacted with past environments, and how traces of human behavior are preserved in the physical environment. In geology, the geoarchaeology concentration consists of 13 courses: GEOL 101 or 102 or 103; 202, 203, 204, 205, 270, and 399; two semesters of chemistry; two semesters of math, statistics or computational methods; either ARCH 101 or ANTH 101; and one 200- or 300-level elective from among current offerings in Anthropology or Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For course planning advice, consult with Don Barber (Geology) or Peter Magee (Archaeology).

Concentration in Geochemistry

The geochemistry concentration encourages students majoring either in geology or in chemistry to design a course of study that emphasizes Earth chemistry. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For a Geology Major with a concentration in Geochemistry, the following are required in addition to Geology Major requirements: CHEM 103 (General Chemistry) and CHEM 104 (General Chemistry II), CHEM 211(Organic Chemistry) or CHEM 231 (Inorganic Chemistry), GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires major advisor approval), one additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL course or one additional advanced CHEM course. For a Chemistry Major with a concentration in Geochemistry, the following are required in addition to Chemistry major requirements (see Chemistry major advisor): GEOL 101 (How the Earth Works), GEOL 202 (Mineralogy/Crystal Chemistry), two additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL courses including GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires Geology major advisor approval). For course planning advice, contact Pedro Marenco, Lynne Elkins (Geology) or Sharon Burgmayer (Chemistry).

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