Introduction to Mineralogy and Petrography

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Minerals are the basic building blocks of Earth materials, and a fundamental understanding of their properties is important for many fields within the Earth sciences. This course aims to provide knowledge on the structural, chemical and physical characteristics of minerals, teach the identification of the common rock-forming minerals and demonstrate how minerals make up igneous and metamorphic rocks.

The first part of the course covers the fundamentals of mineralogy, including a discussion of the chemical elements that make up minerals, chemical bonds and crystal structures, crystallography and crystal growth. Important mineralogical principles such as polymorphism, isostructuralism, solid solution, exsolution and phase diagrams are introduced. In addition, the physical properties of minerals are explained and mineral identification techniques using hand specimens, microscopy and geochemical methods are discussed. In the second part of the course, this fundamental knowledge is used to systematically discuss the different groups of rock-forming minerals, including the different types of silicates, carbonates, sulfates, oxides, sulfides, halides and native element minerals. It is also explained how chemical and physical properties of rock-forming minerals are important for the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks, and how to classify these rocks based on their mineral contents and textures.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:

The student can

  • explain how the properties of chemical elements and their bonds determine the structure and composition of minerals (e.g. close-packing, coordination numbers)
  • demonstrate how the internal structure of minerals affects the external structure and physical properties of a mineral (e.g. crystal symmetry, crystal habit)
  • explain the mineralogical concepts of polymorphism, isostructuralism, solid solution and exsolution
  • discuss which mineral identification method is appropriate for a mineralogical problem (e.g. polarizing microscope, x-ray diffraction, electron microprobe)
  • recognize and describe the basic properties and chemistry of common rock-forming minerals
  • explain the mineralogical variation in igneous and metamorphic rocks

The student is able to

  • describe crystal planes and directions using Miller indices
  • interpret simple phase diagrams relevant for the stability of minerals
  • calculate simple mineral formulas from geochemical analyses
  • identify and describe the common rock-forming minerals in hand specimen
  • classify igneous and metamorphic rocks based on the field classification

General competence
The student can

  • formulate his or her opinion on a scientific topic in a short essay
  • present a scientific topic in a clear and structured way
  • collaborate with others during exercises in a constructive manner
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
10 ECTS overlap with GEOL103
Teaching and learning methods

Lecures 2 hours a week for 14 weeks.

Laboratory work 2 hours a week for 8 weeks.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance



Compulsory assignments are valid for 2 subsequent semesters.

Forms of Assessment

Mid-term exam, 20% of total grade

Mineral identification exam, 20% of total grade

Written examination (4 hours), 60% of total grade

Please note: Digital exam, for more information, please visit:

Permitted tools on written exam: Non-programmable calculator, according to faculty regulations.

Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Written exam arranged in both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Coordinator
The course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on MittUiB, or you may contact
Course Administrator
The Faculty for Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Earth Science has the administrative responsibility for the course and program.