Introduction to Geochemistry

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course aims to give a broad introduction into the geochemical principles and research practices used to understand processes operating on, in and between Earth¿s various geochemical and geobiological systems (mantle, crust, oceans, atmosphere).


The course gives an introduction to fundamental geochemical methods and practices used in disciplines like aqueous biogeochemistry, trace element geochemistry and isotope geochemistry. Beginning with the origin and formation of elements, and their distribution between Earth¿s reservoirs, this course discusses why and how geochemical reactions occur and give rise to global biogeochemical cycling between reservoirs. These concepts will be developed and applied using a combination of local/regional fieldwork and student-active learning.

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 the origin of the elements in the universe
  • compare the composition of the Earth´s main geochemical reservoirs
  • use the behavior of chemical elements and their isotopes to identify and explain geochemical processes
  • distinguish between major and trace elements in rocks and aqueous systems
  • summarize what the main global element cycles are, and the most important processes that control these cycles
  • describe the carbonate system and its role in the global carbon cycle
  • explain how reaction equilibrium constants function
  • connect major microbial metabolisms with their distribution and geochemical impacts
  • evaluate the behavior of geochemical species considering major pH, redox and fluid-rock-microbiological processes


The student can

  • quantify uncertainty associated with measuring parameters in geochemistry
  • compile and evaluate real geochemical data (open source) to develop conclusions
  • process and interpret stable and radiogenic isotope ratio data
  • design and conduct simple fieldwork strategies for geochemical sampling
  • balance diverse geochemical reaction equations (redox, fluid-mineral)
  • use geochemical data to identify microbial habitats and niches

General competence

The student can

  • effectively and ethically conduct fieldwork, sampling and analysis individually and collaboratively
  • use basic data management practices and software (e.g. spreadsheets)
  • formulate basic research questions and hypotheses
  • use a precise scientific language to communicate results
  • effectively use graphical/visual aids to present findings (e.g. for a poster)
  • conduct field excursions in accordance to the HMS practice at GEO/UiB

ECTS Credits

10 credits

Level of Study

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods

Lectures: 2 hours per week (12 weeks)

Practicals/Exercises: 3 hours per week (12 weeks)

Field trips: 3 days

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

It is mandatory to attend and submit assignments for all course activities. We aim to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to engage in the mandatory activities in this course.

Assessment is offered only in the actual semester teaching is given.

Forms of Assessment
The forms of assessment are: portfolio assessment
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
Assessment is offered only in the actual semester teaching is given.
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 coordinators and administrative contact persons can be found on Mitt UiB, 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