The geochemical toolbox

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Objectives This course aims to give students a comprehensive set of theoretical and practical skills to design, perform and critically evaluate geochemical research at the MSc to PhD level. A secondary objective is that students become familiar with the analytical techniques and laboratories available at the Department of Earth Science.

Content The course covers theoretical concepts and analytical methods that are required to study the broad range of geochemical processes determining element cycling and shaping Earth¿s climate and environment. It consists of a theoretical and practical part that will run simultaneously throughout the semester. The theoretical part is organized around modules that discuss the application of geochemical tools in a variety of topics (dependent on lecturers), focusing on major and trace elements, stable isotopes and radiogenic isotopes. The practical part involves a student-designed research project and provides training in all aspects of geochemical research, from formulating hypotheses to sampling, method selection, analysis, data reduction and reporting.

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 principles behind geochemical tools that involve major/trace elements, radiogenic and stable isotope geochemistry
  • can explain the principles of the most important analytical techniques in geochemistry, including mass spectrometry, spectroscopy and chromatography
  • can critically assess the quality of geochemical data and uncertainty associated with instrumental methods


The student

  • can formulate and evaluate research questions that can be addressed with major/trace element, stable and radiogenic isotope data
  • can use basic laboratory equipment including a pipette and analytical balance
  • can critically discuss, review, and synthesize geochemical literature 
  • can demonstrate and acquire best analytical practices throughout the analytical pipeline from field work and sampling, sample preparation, analysis, calibration and error assessment, and document this in a lab book

General competence

The student

  • can work in the laboratory in compliance with GEO/UiB health and safety regulations
  • can work both independently and in cooperation with others in the laboratory
  • can use precise scientific language in written presentations
  • can formulate a hypothesis, and design/carry out an experiment or analysis to test it 

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
GEOV109 (Introduction to geochemistry) or similar
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
5 ECTS overlap with GEOV347
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a master's programme at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching is organized in modules (4-6 contact hours/week) that involve learning methods such as lectures, exercises, practical work, group work and self-study (depending on the lecturer and module). Students work simultaneously on their self-designed research projects throughout the semester (variable contact hours/week).
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Mandatory participation in the research project and modules (minimum attendance of 75%), and submission of elements for portfolio assessment (lab book, report and coursework in modules).

Compulsory activities and assignments are valid for 3 subsequent semesters, including the one in which they were approved.

Forms of Assessment
Portfolio assessment:
  • Laboratory notebook
  • Report on research project
  • Coursework in modules
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 in which teaching is given.
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
Desiree Roerdink