Introduction to Theoretical Seismology

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The overall goal of this course is to give the student a theoretical fundament for further studies within seismic and seismology, as well as the use of existing programs for seismic modelling.


The course gives an introduction to fundamental concepts within theoretical seismology: Stress and strain, elastic properties, plane and spherical waves, anisotropy and attenuation, reflection and transmission at plane boundaries, layered media, surface waves, ray theory and diffraction, seismic sources. 

Learning Outcomes

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


On completion of the course the student should have a deeper understanding of the most important wave phenomena relevant for seismic studies of sedimentary basins and reservoirs, and also earthquake seismology.


On completion of the course the student should

  • understand and be able to reproduce central mathematical derivations from the list of syllabus.
  • be able to solve new problems based on the compulsory theory.
  • implement central parts of the compulsory theory in the form of different computer programs.
  • demonstrate basic skills within seismic modelling.


General competence 

The student will obtain experience with

  • mathematical modelling of physical phenomena in general and seismic wave phenomena in particular.
  • use of Matlab for numerical calculations.
  • to work independently and in collaboration with others.

Level of Study

Bachelorlevel - the course is also relevant for Master's students

Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
GEOV101. Students with a relevant background can apply to the study adminstration to get an exemption from this requirement. 
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a program of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, 2 hours/week

Supervised exercises, 2 hours/week

The lectures emphasize geophysical understanding and derivations of central formulae, but also includes informal demonstrations and discussions of more applied nature.

The excercises includes problem solving and implementation of central parts of the theory in the form of computer programs (Matlab or Python programming). The excercises are designed in such a way that the students get continuous assistance from the lecturer, and also exercise in collaborating with each others.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
The students must complete and hand in a number of problem sets in order to be allowed to take the final exam. These problem sets are only valid for the semester when the course is taught and the following semester (for the repeat exam in the spring). The compulsory exercises has to be approved to sit the final exam. Feedback on the compulsory exercises function as a formative evaluation.
Forms of Assessment
The forms of assessment are: Final written exam (4 hours). Questions about the excercises are normally asked during the final written exam. This function as a summative evaluation.
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
Examination 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 January 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.
Examination Support Material
Non-programmable calculator, according to faculty regulations:
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 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