Depositional Processes and Environments

Module code: GL2105
Module co-ordinator: Professor Jan Zalasiewicz

Sedimentology is one of the key disciplines in geology. Many of the processes we see operating at the Earth's surface today can be interpreted from the geological record using observations of mineralogy, textures, and structures identified in sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks are an archive for key data on palaeoclimate and the evolution of life; they host some of our key resources and their erosion provides some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.

This module will further develop the ability to describe rocks and identify sedimentary processes that you learned in the first-year module 'The Rock Cycle'. You will learn how to read and interpret vertical and lateral relationships within the sedimentary record. Each session consists of a lecture on a particular depositional environment. You will spend the rest of your time in practical classes learning the skills of a professional sedimentologist.

Topics covered

  • Using examples from the present day and the geological record, you will explore environments from the arid interiors of continents to the deep oceans, and from glaciated regions to the subtropical reefs
  • You will examine the characteristic sedimentary processes operating in these environments through observations of rocks and sedimentary data and through conducting your own experiments
  • You will develop petrographic techniques for siliciclastic and carbonate rocks and gain hands-on experience in preparing samples for analysis


  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 34 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 2 hours of project supervision
  • 2 hours of demonstration
  • 102 hours of guided independent study


  • Exam -  theory paper, 1 hour (40%)
  • Open book practical paper, 1 hour (40%)
  • Group practical (20%)