EOSC 310 (3 cr): The Earth and the Solar System

EOSC 310

Course Outline

  • 5-6 discussions
  • 4 quizzes
  • 2 assignments
  • final exam

Course Description

In this course, we will focus on large-scale processes that control everything from planetary formation to how planets evolve through time. Our focus will be on Earth, but we will compare our planet with the other planets in the solar system (and even those in other solar systems). In addition, although we will be looking at global processes, these relate very much to the local scale as well. Southwest British Columbia, where UBC is located, is right in the middle of every plate tectonic-related process and their expressions (e.g. earthquakes and volcanoes). Therefore, when possible, we’ll relate the course topics to local landforms (here, or wherever you are) and issues as well as current events.

Prerequisite: Second year standing.

Intended Student

This course is open only to students not registered in the Faculty of Science or Applied Science. No background in science or mathematics is required.

Course Content Overview

Earth and Ocean Sciences 310 is a course that is designed to provide you with a functional scientific literacy within the context of earth sciences. It is designed so that all students, however slight their background in science is, should be able to follow and enjoy it.

The following is a brief description of the course content:
Lesson 1: Geology and the Solar System Formation – You will study the historical perspective on how Earth’s place in the universe has evolved through history.
Lesson 2: Earth Materials and the Rock Cycle – You will study the three major rock types (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and how they are classified and sub-classified.
Lesson 3: Earth Systems – This module begins with a brief introduction into Earth systems concepts and a review of major Earth cycles. You will then consider the influence of these systems on global climate and mass extinctions.
Lesson 4: Planetary Geology – You will compare the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). In addition, we’ll include in our comparison our Moon, as well as several moons of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn.


Assignment 20%
Quizzes 35%
Discussions 15%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Required Textbooks

Langmuir, Charles H. & Wally Broecker. How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind. Princeton University Press; Revised and Expanded edition 2012. ISBN: 9780691140063
E-book: ISBN: 97814008419743

EOSC310 Textbook Order Form