Postgraduate course

Instrumental Methods in Analytical Geochemistry

Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

The measurement of major elements, trace elements and isotopes represents an important aspect of geochemical research. This course aims to provide knowledge on the most important analytical techniques used in geochemistry, present practical experience in the geochemical laboratories at the Department of Earth Science, and teach simple data reduction and spreadsheet skills that are relevant for the processing of geochemical datasets.

This course covers the generation and processing of analytical data in inorganic geochemistry. It discusses concepts of accuracy, precision, detection limit and error propagation in analytical data reduction, teaches the main principles of mass spectrometry, electromagnetic spectroscopy and chromatography, and introduces sample preparation techniques and sampling statistics. It also provides an introduction to the geochemical laboratories at the Department of Earth Science and teaches basic laboratory skills (pipetting, weighing, ion exchange chromatography) as well as more advanced instrumental methods (mass spectrometer, spectrophotometer).

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 basic principles of mass spectrometry, electromagnetic spectroscopy and chromatography
  • explain the importance of correct sample preparation
  • discuss the sources of error associated with different instrumental methods
  • describe which analytical method is most appropriate for solving a geochemical problem
  • explain the concepts of accuracy, precision, detection limit and method calibration

The student is able to

  • use basic laboratory equipment, including a pipette and analytical balance
  • perform basic analytical routines, including tuning of a mass spectrometer, quantitative analyses using a spectrophotometer and sample purification using ion exchange chromatography
  • calculate detection limits, calibration curves and errors on results
  • assess the quality of analytical data and perform data reduction using Excel

General competence
The student

  • is familiar with the laboratory facilities available at the Department of Earth Science

Required Previous Knowledge

Basic principles in earth science and geochemistry

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Basic principles in inorganic geochemistry

Access to the Course

Access to the course requires admission to a Master¿s Programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching are given concentrated for one week: lectures and exercises

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance to the lectures and lab exercises is compulsory

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment

  • Reports on lab exercises
  • Reports on data exercises
  • Report on final exercise

Grading Scale

Passed / failed. No grading.

Assessment Semester

Assessment is offered only in the actual semester in which teaching is given.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 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

The course coordinator and administrative contact person is found at 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


Contact Information

The student coordinator can be contacted here:


Tlf 55 58 35 19

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Laboratory protocols

    Withdrawal deadline