Student Pages
Undergraduate course

Physics of the Solid Earth

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeGEOV112
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

The overall goals of this course are to provide basic Matlab programming skills, a deeper understanding of various important topics in geophysics (such as earthquake seismology, seismic wave propagation, gravity, magnetics and plate tectonics) and how Matlab programming can be used to study these geophysical topics. This is done by giving a general introduction to Matlab, especially using programming exercises, by teaching a selection of the above mentioned geophysical topics, and finally by linking Matlab and geophysics using specific Matlab exercises related to these geophysical topics.

In this course the students will acquire basic skills in Matlab programming, an intermediate understanding of various topics in geophysics and understand how these are linked. Matlab programming is introduced using a variety of techniques, with a special emphasis on programming exercises. The Matlab part of the course includes the use of about 70 Matlab commands as well as a basic introduction to programming techniques (such as program structure (input, computations and output), designing and testing a program, commenting and basic debugging techniques). These Matlab skills are used in the creation and manipulation of arrays and matrices, plotting (1D and 2D), reading and writing files, polar and spherical coordinates, basic statistics, 1D integration and 1D differentiation. The geophysical part of the course is taken from a variety of important geophysical topics in seismology, magnetics, gravity and plate tectonics. Applications of these topics in Matlab include the computation of epicentral distances, the computation of travel times, analysis of seismicity (local/regional/global) and computation of the magnetic field.

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

  • Understands various basic issues related to computer programming (including concepts of input, computation and output, use of comments, correct choice of variable names, publishing programs as a pdf, basic debugging strategies)
  • Has a good basic understanding of basic fundamental concepts in numerical issues (such as reading data files, array and matrix manipulation, the use of statistical commands, plotting various geophysical quantities in 1D, 2D and 3D)
  • Understands the basic principles of various topics in solid Earth physics (for example in seismic exploration, global seismology, plate motion and magnetism) and why computer programming is important in these fields

The student

  • Can write small computer programs that numerically manipulate (for example by differentiation and integration) various functions that are of importance in solid Earth physics.
  • Can explain the importance of the use of computer programming in solid Earth physics
  • Has a good understanding of a number of relevant topics in geophysics (including seismology, gravity, magnetics and plate tectonics)
  • Can write small computer programs related to a number of topics in solid Earth physics (such as seismic exploration, earthquake seismology, plate tectonics and magnetism and gravity)

General competence
The student

  • Can write small computer programs in Matlab that help in understanding and solving problems in geophysics
  • Can write small computer programs in Matlab to numerically solve some mathematical problems that are of relevance in computational geophysics
  • Has knowledge of the importance of computational geophysics in industry and academia

Required Previous Knowledge

Basic principles in geophysics,geology and linear algebra

Access to the Course

Access to the course requires admission to a program of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Teaching and learning methods

Total teaching of 12 weeks

Teaching using active learning techniques: 4 hours/week,

Supervised exercise sessions: 2 hours/week

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Mandatory active participation in all classes; all exercises have to be handed in and all exercises have to have a pass grade. Compulsory assignments are valid in two (2) semesters (the semester that the course is taught and in the following semester).

Forms of Assessment

  • Exercises (25%), quizzes (25%), written exam (4 hours) (50%).

All exam parts must be passed to get final assessment in the course.

Examination Support Material

Non-programmable calculator, according to the faculty regulations

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

Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester and Deecember 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


Department of Earth Science, studieveileder@geo.uib.no

Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Portfolio assesment and written examinat

    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam
    • Exam part: Written examinat

      Examination system
      Digital exam