Graduate Courses

General Graduate Program Requirements

(7/2019)

  • Students must enroll for a minimum of 12 units per quarter. Under exceptional circumstances only, students may be admitted to the Graduate Program as part-time students. The conditions under which a student may be admitted and participate in the Graduate Program in part-time status will be determined by the student and Faculty Advisor, in consultation with the Graduate Advisors.

  • Students must enroll in Geology 290, our weekly departmental seminar, each quarter prior to passing their Qualifying Exam. Enrolling in GEL 290 is strongly recommended thereafter.

  • All new students are required to take GEL 390, “Methods of Teaching in Geology”, during their first Fall Quarter. All students are required to take the T.A. Orientation offered by the Center for Educational Excellence (CEE) during their first year.

Graduate GEL Courses

Geology Graduate Courses by Academic Year (pdfs)
2022-2024 | 2021-2022 | 2020-2021 | 2019-2020 | 2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017
NOTE: Courses are subject to change.

See https://eps.ucdavis.edu/students/grad/handbook for graduate program course requirements.

Academic Year 2021-2022

Last updated August 2022

  • Fall 2021 | Graduate
  • GEL 206: Stratigraphic Analysis | Sumner
    Graduate course breadth area: #2 or 4
    This course will provide students the opportunity to learn and apply sedimentary geology, regional stratigraphy, and sedimentary basin analysis to tectonically active basins. It will be divided into three components: 1) specific techniques (tailored to student prior experience level); 2) a 3-day field trip (likely to the Ridge Basin, Southern California) and application of analysis techniques to those data; and 3) small group projects on topics of interest. Small group projects can focus on Martian stratigraphy for students interested in planetary science.

    GEL 240: Foundations of Geophysics | Rudolph
    Graduate course breadth area: #6
    This course presents foundational concepts in geophysics at a level accessible to all graduate students in the EPS department. Topics to be covered include the geophysical constraints on the large-scale structure and dynamics of Earth and planetary interiors such as seismology, gravity, heat flow, magnetic field, and geodesy. We will explore the physics of the processes that shape planetary surfaces and interiors including impact events, differentiation, mantle convection, and tectonics. The course will include a computer laboratory with hands-on programming activities in Python that reinforce the concepts covered in lecture. Format: Lectures, weekly problem sets/labs, midterm, final
    Note: This course is one of several regular 'core classes' being developed to strengthen our graduate curriculum.

    GEL 294: Structure-Tectonics-Geophysics seminar | Roeske
    1-unit
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip.

    GEL 298: Planet Formation | Stewart
    Graduate course breadth area: #7; Course Registration Number (CRN): 35500
    This course presents foundational concepts in the physics and chemistry of planet formation, focusing on the early stages of growing planets and incorporating recent observations from exoplanets. Course provides foundational material related to protoplanetary disk physics, the solar nebula chemical condensation sequence, meteorite components and chemistry, chondrules and planetesimal formation, accretion of terrestrial planets, accretion of giant planets, current grand challenges in planet formation. The material is targeted at beginning graduate students and accessible to upper-level undergraduates.
  • Winter 2022 | Graduate
  • GEL 216: Tectonics | Cowgill
    Graduate course breadth area: #3
    Tectonic processes provide the fundamental mechanisms by which the exosphere (atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere) and the deep interior of Earth interact. This course seeks to understand tectonic systems by examining processes of mass and energy flux at modern and ancient plate boundaries. Our approach will be fundamentally geological in nature, in the sense that we will strive to link the rock record of processes with observations from modern settings. The course will involve readings/lectures based on Global Tectonics (Keary, Klepeis, Vine) and the primary literature, problem sets, and a research project and presentation. Planned topics: 1. Basics of Plate Motion on Sphere; 2. Basics of Isostacy & Flexure; 3. Divergent Boundaries & Passive Margins (e.g., Red Sea, Atlantic); 4. Transform Boundaries (e.g., San Andreas, Alpine, North Anatolian faults); 5. Convergent Boundaries (e.g., Andes); 6. Collision & Orogeny (e.g., Alpine-Himalayan Belt & Demise of NeoTethys); 7. Tectonics, Climate & Ocean Chemistry; 8. Tectonics and Life. Simultaneous enrollment in GEL253 is strongly encouraged.

    GEL 260: Paleontology | Vermeij
    Graduate course breadth area: #1
    This course will explore a broad topic of interest (still to be decided). We will read and discuss relevant papers and there will be a short final presentation and paper.

    GEL 298: Microbial Photosynthesis | Grettenberger
    Graduate course breadth area: #1; Course Registration Number (CRN): 26810
    Photosynthesis is one of the most important evolutionary innovations in Earth’s history. It permanently changed Earth’s surface geochemistry, fundamentally reshaping the cycling of key elements and altered the evolutionary path of life by allowing widespread aerobic respiration. This course will explore the importance of oxygenic photosynthesis in biogeochemical cycling, its evolutionary history, and the history of it in the fossil record. The course will include classroom, field, and laboratory components. Students will participate in a quarter long hands-on project during which they will 1) collect samples from a nearby field site, 2) extract DNA and sequence it using a MinION sequencer, 3) analyze the data using common bioinformatic pipelines, and 4) present their findings in a 10 minute talk format.


    GEL 298: Geodynamic Modeling | Rudolph
    Graduate course breadth area: #6; Course Registration Number (CRN): 26818
    We will cover the design and implementation of numerical geodynamic models. We will address problems involving advection of material properties, advection and diffusion of heat, viscous flow, and visco-elasto-plastic deformation. Students will produce a 2D geodynamic modeling code that can be used to model the deformation of the lithosphere and mantle. The coursework will involve programming in a language of the student's choice.

    GEL 298: Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry | Cooper
    Graduate course breadth area: #TBD; Course Registration Number (CRN): contact professor
    The goal is to give graduate students an introduction to radiogenic isotope geochemistry at the upper-division undergraduate level, for those who haven’t had an undergraduate course and/or who would like a refresher. It will be run as a sort of guided independent study, where for each week’s topic students will be expected to independently read relevant sections in a textbook (or textbooks) and work problems related to the topic. There will be no lectures, but we will meet as a group twice each week – the first time will be an opportunity to ask questions and get clarification on concepts from the reading, and the second meeting will be an opportunity to get help with working through problems and to check solutions/calculations. The course will be for three units and will be offered as S/U grading only.

    GEL 298: Tools for Becoming a Successful Professional and for Enhancing Your Well-being and Work Environment | Billen
    Graduate course breadth area: N/A; Course Registration Number (CRN): 26833
    This is a course that was developed by public health, psychiatry and behavioral scientist. Professor Carolyn Dewa and mental health consultant Kathy Holmes-Sullivan and piloted in several graduate groups on campus in 2019 and 2020. In September, I was part of a cohort of faculty who were trained to teach this course within our own graduate programs/groups. The overall goals for the course are: 1. Explain the role of stress in work life; 2. Discuss types of self-care tools; 3. Discuss how to evaluate the scientific evidence; 4. Describe the application of effective problem-solving; 5. Recognize psychosocial environmental factors associated with stress. The course will meet in 6 sessions (see description and course goals below), each 1.5 hours long, with a hybrid option (a minimum of 3 online participants is needed because there are multiple breakout activities in each session and it is difficult to mix in-person and on-line participant in breakout groups). The meeting time will be determined by a When2Meet Poll of the registered participants to be completed by the end of the first week of winter quarter. Approximately 30 minutes of time outside of class is expected for reflection and practice. There is also optional reading that provides the research background for the material presented in the course. 

  • Spring 2022 | Graduate
  • GEL 219: Fracture and Flow of Rocks | Billen
    Graduate course breadth area: #3 or 6
    This revised course is designed to provide students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds with a strong foundation in brittle, ductile and viscous behavior of rocks. Compared to how the class was taught previously there is a shift to more time spent on brittle/ductile behavior of the lithosphere, including the rheologies used to model earthquake rupture, and less time spent on the viscous behavior of the mantle (but this is still covered). For each topic, I will present the experimental data, the equations used to describe the behavior and a discussion of the microscopic origin of the observed behavior. Targeted paper discussions will occur at key junctures in the course to help synthesize the topics and learn how to critically read papers establishing or applying rheological concepts. Each student will also complete a literature review-based term project on a specific type of rheology of relevance to their own research. Please also see detailed syllabus.

    GEL 230: Geomorphology and River Management | Pinter
    Graduate course breadth area: #5
    The course is a multidisciplinary study of the ecology, geomorphology and management of rivers of the US West, and one river (TBD) in particular. The field of watershed science, including the study of rivers and streams, is inherently multidisciplinary, involving a broad array of physical, biological, and social sciences. Traditional education programs emphasize in-depth study within a specific discipline, whereas most careers in waterrelated science and management rarely are limited to a single discipline. The ability to work collaboratively with professionals from different backgrounds is fundamental to success in watershed science and management, and indeed in most applied-science fields. Comprised of upper division undergraduate students and first-year graduate students, this course will bring together students from a range of biological and physical sciences to address the geology, ecology, and management of a targeted river and watershed. The course will be followed by an optional, private rafting and research expedition on the study river. Trip participants will be expected to help organize logistics for the field trip, including food, gear, transportation and field itineraries.

    GEL 251: Thermodynamics for Earth and Planetary Scientists | Yin
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    If you are a geologist, or a planetary scientist, or aspired to become one in the near future, and were ever pondering on the questions such as why magma ocean crystallization proceeds from bottom up; if you ever wondered about what the heck does it mean by oxygen fugacity, and why it is a useful measure for a planetary object interior (Earth included); if you ever questioned why geochemists are so crazy about trace and ultra-trace elements in rocks and minerals, instead of (well, in addition to) major rock forming elements; or if you wanted to brush up your knowledge about how pressure and temperature of rocks, minerals and their assemblages were determined; if you were wondering what is solidus, liquidus, and what is adiabat, what is the “potential” temperature of the mantle; what is bridging oxygen and non-bridging oxygen and their roles in elemental partitioning from magma; what are the thermodynamic reasoning behind mass dependent isotope fractionation and its associated temperature dependance (another way of reading temperature record of minerals in nature)……the list could go on and on…… I know you have wondered about these questions in your mind, because I did too. If the answers to the list above were yes to most of them, I recommend you plan on taking GEL 251 in the Spring Quarter 2022 and we will learn together and build up our knowledge bases.

    GEL 253: Petrology seminar | Ratschbacher
    Graduate course breadth area: #4

    This seminar will focus on recent topics of arc magmatism with an emphasis on understanding the physical, chemical, and temporal evolution of arc magmas in the crust. Lecture and paper discussion topics will include differentiation processes in the crust, magma ascent and emplacement, the volcanic-plutonic connection, and the role of water in magmatic processes. In addition, the seminar will focus on introducing students to petrological tools such as geothermobarometry, trace element  studies, optical analysis of rocks, and identification of magmatic to solid-state fabrics in the field.

    Meeting times and location:
          Lecture section: Mondays 11 am to noon, Durrell room

          Discussion section: Wednesday 11 am to noon, Durrell room

    GEL 294: Structure-Tectonics-Geophysics seminar | Roeske
    1-unit
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip
Academic Year 2022-2023

Last updated August 2022

  • Fall 2022 | Graduate
  • GEL 214: Active Tectonics | Oskin

    Graduate course breadth area: #3
    Active Tectonics is lecture, project, and problem-set based course on tectonic processes taught through the lens of active systems. The course examines the interplay of tectonics and surface processes through observations, quantitative analytical, and numerical modeling techniques. Problem sets emphasize quantitative problem solving in structural geology, tectonics, geomorphology and Quaternary geochronology. We will also work on one or more group projects that vary from year to year, ideally with a fieldwork component.

    GEL 251: Isotopes in Cosmochemistry and Geochemistry | Mukhopadhyay
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 262: Paleobiology Seminar | Motani
    Graduate course breadth area: #1
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 294: Structure & Tectonics forum | Roeske
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip.

    GEL 298: Planetary Geology and Geophysics CRN: 35263 | Stewart
    Graduate course breadth area: #6 or #7
    Principles of planetary science. Planetary dynamics, including orbital mechanics, tidal interactions and ring dynamics. Theory of planetary interiors, gravitational fields, rotational dynamics. Physics of planetary atmospheres. Geological processes, landforms and their modification. Methods of analysis from Earth-based observations and spacecraft. This course meets at the same time as GEL 163 and includes additional homework assignments.

    GEL 390: Methods of Teaching Geology | Billen
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

  • Winter 2023 | Graduate

  • GEL 230: Geomorphology & River Management | Pinter
    Graduate course breadth area: #5
    The course – widely known as “Ecogeo” – is a multidisciplinary study of the ecology, geomorphology, and management of rivers, floodplains, and watersheds. Each year, a single river is selected, and the course focuses on an intensive study of that system. The course involves classroom instruction during the academic quarter, research and research papers focused on the study river, culminating with a 7-10+ day rafting trip during which students collect and analyze field data and/or synthesize the multidisciplinary science, management, and policy of the river.

    GEL 240: Geophysics of the Earth | Rudolph
    Graduate course breadth area: #6
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 281: Instrumental Techniques | Yin
    Graduate course breadth area: N/A
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 298: Planetary Impact Processes | Stewart
    Graduate course breadth area: 7
    Planetary impact processes, including impact cratering mechanics and thermodynamics, catastrophic disruption, including introduction to hydrocodes, equations of state and state-of-the art in experimental capabilities.

  • Spring 2023 | Graduate

  • GEL 205: Advance Field Stratigraphy | Sumner
    Graduate course breadth area: #1 or 2
    Topic: Tracing geobiological influences on the rock record of eastern California. This course will include ~7 days of fieldwork in areas between Mono Lake and the Death Valley area over spring break followed by 1 hour weekly meetings during spring quarter. Fieldwork will focus on identifying and interpreting interactions between life and sedimentary systems in rocks ranging in age from Neoproterozoic to Cambrian with a few examples of recent deposits. Students will collect stratigraphic data and samples during fieldwork that will be analyzed during spring quarter for student-defined projects. Some reading will be assigned prior to fieldwork, and students participating in fieldwork are required to enroll in the spring quarter course.
     

    GEL 253: Petrology seminar | Cooper
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 298: Aqueous Geochemistry | Atekwana
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    The goal of this course is to discuss factors that affects the chemical composition of natural waters: (1) understanding of the main classes of reactions that control the behavior of major chemical species in natural waters and (2) learn to use some geochemical “tools” (including sampling and analyses equipment, software, etc.) to study major reactions in natural waters i.e., perform simple geochemical modeling. Students will acquire a basic understanding of the main classes of reactions, knowledge of the factors regulating chemical processes in natural waters, as well as the ways in which these processes influence the behavior of the major chemical species. Knowledge of a few basic pieces of information concerning the system of interest (e.g., temperature, pH, redox conditions, soil/sediment/rock composition, etc.) should allow students to readily apply such understanding to new situations to make reasonable predictions about the chemical composition of natural waters, and about the transport and fate of chemical species in natural waters.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 294: Structure & Tectonics forum | Roeske
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip.

Academic Year 2023-2024

Last updated September 2022

  • Fall 2023 | Graduate
  • GEL 227: Stable Isotopes Biogeochemistry | Atekwana
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    Stable Isotopes biogeochemistry is an important discipline within the earth sciences. The use of stable
    isotopes is widespread from studies that seek to understand natural variations in isotopes in geologic system to those that relate to human perturbation of the world’s ecosystems. This course is an introduction to the basic principles of stable isotope. Students will study of the production, distribution, and use of select naturally occurring stable isotopes applied to geology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, and environmental change. The main objective of this course is to provide an elementary understanding of the principles and application of stable isotope in earth and environmental systems. The course will focus on commonly used light stable isotopes (e.g., H, C, N, O and S). The course will also cover other stable and radioactive isotopes as appropriate. At the end of the course, students should have a working knowledge of the principles of stable isotopes and be able to apply their use in geologic studies and in their research.

    GEL 240: Geophysics of the Earth | Stewart
    Graduate course breadth area: #6
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 298: TBD | Mukhopadhyay
    Graduate course breadth area: #TBD
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 294: Structure & Tectonics forum | Roeske
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip.

    GEL 390: Methods of Teaching Geology | Billen
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

  • Winter 2024 | Graduate

  • GEL 218: Analysis of Structures in Deformed Rocks | Cowgill
    Graduate course breadth area: #3
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 298: Planet Formation | Stewart
    Graduate course breadth area: #7

    This course presents foundational concepts in the physics and chemistry of planet formation, focusing on the early stages of growing planets and incorporating recent observations from exoplanets. Course provides foundational material related to protoplanetary disk physics, the solar nebula chemical condensation sequence, meteorite components and chemistry, chondrules and planetesimal formation, accretion of terrestrial planets, accretion of giant planets, current grand challenges in planet formation. The material is targeted at beginning graduate students and accessible to upper-level undergraduates.

    GEL 2XX: Topics in Terrestrial Paleoclimatology | Montañez
    Graduate course breadth area: #TBD

    Description coming soon.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

  • Spring 2024 | Graduate

  • GEL 219: Fracture & Flow of Rocks | Billen
    Graduate course breadth area: #3 or 6
    This course is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in brittle, ductile, and viscous behavior of rocks. Emphasis is on brittle/ductile behavior of the lithosphere, including the rheologies used to model earthquake rupture and mechanisms of viscous deformation. For each topic, I will present the experimental data, the equations used to describe the behavior and a discussion of the microscopic origin of the observed behavior. Weekly homework assignments emphasize foundational concepts different types of deformation. Targeted paper discussions will occur at key junctures in the course to help synthesize the topics and learn how to critically read papers establishing or applying rheological concepts. Each student will also complete a literature review-based term project on a specific type of theology of relevance to their own research.

    GEL 232: Oceans and Climate Change | Hill
    Graduate course breadth area: #2

    This graduate course looks at the connections between oceans, earth, and climate systems. Topics vary by year and are selected by students and faculty. Recent topics have included reconstruction of past climates of western North America through the Holocene, and the history and future of oxygen minimum zones in the ocean. Class is structured to feature peer reviewed literature as well as including elements of public science communication on oceans and climate change.

    GEL 251: Isotope Geochemistry & Cosmochemistry | Yin
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 253: Petrology seminar | Ratschbacher
    Graduate course breadth area: #4
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 290: Seminar | TBD
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    Description coming soon.

    GEL 294: Structure & Tectonics forum | Roeske
    Does not count as a breadth or general course for graduate degree requirements.
    This on-going discussion group meets once/week to discuss a paper selected by participants in the group. The theme of the articles varies each quarter; the seminar's goal is to emphasize breadth and we read and discuss a range of articles that cover the diverse interests of members of the group. As an example, we have recently read articles on subduction zone processes, ranging from UHP metamorphism and exhumation, to response of the upper plate to degree of coupling in the subduction zone. If schedules allow, we plan a multi-day field trip to examine rocks that may show some of the processes of interest to the group and focus the reading around the field trip.

GEL Course Evaluations

See the course evaluation questions that will be asked of each Geology course at the end of the quarter