Quaternary geochronology

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The objective of the course is to introduce the principles and applications of key methods used to determine the rates and dates of Quaternary geological and paleoclimate events. The course aims to train MSc students in critical evaluation of existing geochronological data and how to apply Quaternary dating techniques in their own projects.

In the course, MSc students can work on data they have produced in their own projects, and/or on previously published data that is relevant for their projects.


The course addresses the theory and methods for a range of dating techniques, including Radiocarbon, Uranium-series, in situ cosmogenic nuclides, luminescence, tephrochronology and dendrochronology. The course emphasises the practical applications of these dating methods, critical evaluation of their results, and relevant good practices in Quaternary Science.

Learning Outcomes

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 principal terms, definitions, and theory relevant to Quaternary geochronology (e.g., geologic time, radioactivity, precision and accuracy, uncertainty)
  • can explain and compare method-specific principles, their theoretical foundations, advantages, and limitations
  • can critically evaluate the results obtained using different numeric, relative and correlation dating methods with respect to geochronologic and geologic context


The student

  • can argue for which method(s) to use to determine the rates and dates of geological/paleoclimate events for a given material and/or a given scientific question
  • can perform simple calculations for dating of geological samples, using spreadsheets, open access method-specific codes, and web-based resources
  • can identify geological processes that have method-specific implications, examine these with respect to how they affect the results, and appraise how interpretations can be biased
  • can illustrate observations, data, analyses, and results graphically

General competence

The student

  • can apply precise terminology to demonstrate and summarise geological processes, geochronological archives, material, and methods
  • can integrate, analyse, interpret, and critically evaluate geochronological data to test scientific hypotheses
  • can use libraries and open access scientific databases to retrieve relevant information

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Master level course

Semester of Instruction

Autumn 2023, the course will run as GEOV228 for the last time.

Spring. The course is only given if 5 or more students enrol. 

Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree in Earth Science
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
GEOV228: 10 ECTS
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a Master's Programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and exercises.

Lecture and/or exercise, 4 hours per week for 12 weeks

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Exercises. Approved compulsory assignments are valid for 2 semesters after course completion.
Forms of Assessment
The form of assessment is Portfolio assessment. The portfolio consist of results from the exercises and an adjusting oral test. 
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
Spring. Assessment is only provided in semesters with teaching.
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 Mitt UiB, or you may contact studierettleiar@geo.uib.no
Course Administrator
The Faculty for Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Earth Science has the administrative responsibility for the course and program