Subject Description Form

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Subject Description Form

Subject Offering Department


Subject Code


Subject Title

Living on a Dynamic Earth ( )

Credit Value




Planned Student Intake per Year

Optimal class size: 40

Semester 2: 1

GUR Requirements Intended to Fulfill

The proposed subject intends to fulfill the following GUR requirements

  • Science, Technology and Environment

  • Eligible for “English Writing” (EW) designation – includes an extensive piece of writing (2,500 words).

  • Eligible for “English Reading” (ER) designation - includes a reading of an extensive text (100,000 words or 200 pages)


H. Bâki Iz

Medium of Instruction


Student Study Effort Required

Class contact:

  • Lecture

  • Tutorial

28 Hrs.

14 Hrs.

Other student study effort:

  • Self-study

  • Individual effort

28 Hrs.

8 Hrs.

Total student study effort


Pre-requisite and/or Exclusion(s)



To enable students to understand the dynamics of their home planet and their roles in their daily lives. To contribute to the expansion of students intellectual capacity and interdisciplinary learning encompassing, geology, geophysics, geodesy, geography, geomorphology, and ocean and atmospheric sciences.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the subject, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the dynamics of the Earth at the global scale

  2. Establish the scientific fundaments for students to realize the impact of human activities on the environment

  3. Appreciate the role and the complexity of modern science.

The subject content exposes students to a wide variety of scientific problems, which took centuries for the best scientific minds to discover, observe, formulate and, solve. Students’ exposure to a number of changes on a dynamic earth empowers them to understand a broad range of scales under which the nature operates. Overall subject content and the addressed problems in earth sciences broaden students’ thinking and appreciation of the value of science that unravels the hidden side of the dynamic earth.

Subject Synopsis/ Indicative Syllabus

  1. Earth and Space

Earth’s orbit, earth’s shape and size, day and night time zones, the seasons, latitude and longitude, the solar system, structure of the sun, the sun’s energy, the moon, solar and lunar eclipses, structure of earth, earth’s magnetic field, earth’s magnetosphere, meteors, meteorites, elements: universal abundance.

  1. Earth's History

Superposition, unconformities, complex rock sequences, paleomagnetic dating, how fossils form, fossil use in rock correlation, correlating rocks, tree of life, evolutionary clocks, mass extinctions, geologic times.

  1. Earth's Rocks

Origins, elements, internal heat, periodic table, atoms, compounds, isotopes and ions, crystals and minerals, crystal systems, rock forming minerals, hardness, igneous rocks, intrusive igneous rocks, magma production, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, sedimentary rocks, metamorphism, continental drift and plate tectonics, isostasy, ore, coal, oil, and gas.

  1. Air and Oceans

Atmosphere, radio waves, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon and oxygen cycles, heat transfer processes, sunshine, temperature belts, pressure belts, the coriolis effect, wind circulation, humidity, fog cloud types rain, snow, and sleet rain types , thunderstorm , cyclones, hurricanes , tornadoes, pressure systems air masses, water oceans, ocean temperatures, the ocean floor, seafloor profiling, tides ocean currents, waves and beaches, coastlines, coral reefs , atolls and guyots.

  1. Shaping the Surface

Continents, Lakes, Islands, Mountains

Teaching/Learning Methodology

In class lectures together with online demonstrations, videos, and internet resources are employed for teaching and learning. Lectures are reinforced by relevant animations and videos shown during the tutorials. Students are required to write an book report as part of the ER and EW requirement to be discussed and revised following feedback using an online website by the ELC.

Assessment Method

Three online multiple choice tests with multiple choice structures.

A book report from each student which will be assessed by the instructor for its content for the cluster area ER requirement, and by the ELC for the cluster area EW requirement. In order to pass the subject, students must also pass the writing component assessment, i.e., attain a minimum grade D in the writing component. by the ELC.

Specific assessment methods/tasks

% weighting

Intended subject learning outcomes to be assessed (Please tick as appropriate)






Book Report


10% (ELC)

Three Online MC Tests

(two highest scores)



100 %

Reading List and Reference

Book Report (ER and EW Requirement)

  • Princeton Primers in Climate : Climate and the Oceans, Vallis, G.K., pp. 244, Princeton University Press (2011). The eBook is accessible via a URL at the subject’s website. A Kindle version is also available.

Books and eBooks

  • Earth Science. An Illustrated Guide to Science. Science Visual Resources, the Diagram Group, MIL EAN/ISBN: 9781282051522, Pub e-EAN/ISBN: 9781438125985. Textbook for the subject and available in PolyU library via a URL at the subject’s website.

  • Earth Science Demystified, McGraw-Hill Professional Pub.,1 Ed. (2004), ISBN-10: 0071434992, ISBN-13: 978-0071434997. PolyU Library reserve: QE26.2 .T38 2012.

  • Earth Science, E.J. Tarbuck, F.K. Lutgens, Prentice Hall Pub., 13 Ed. (2011). Also available as an eBook.

Tutorial videos

  • Planet Earth: Limited Edition. Produced by the BBC (2011), Narrated by David Attenborough (Actor), Alastair Fothergill (Director).DVD, 8h 21 mn.

  • Earth: the biography / produced by the BBC for National Geographic Channel. Description: 2 videodiscs (228 min.): sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. Call No.: QE501 .E277 DVD. URL:

  • How the Earth changed history. BBC Productions; a BBC/National Geographic Channel-US co-production in association with ZDF. 2 videodiscs (310 min.): sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. Call No. GF51 .H69 DVD URL:

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