OVERVIEW
OVERVIEW

The BSc in Earth and Planetary Sciences will prepare students to pursue careers in geosciences (geology and geophysics), with a focus on planetary and atmospheric science, including but not limited to positions in governmental organizations, private consulting firms, non-governmental organizations or academic research environments. Specifically, the Earth and Planetary Sciences program addresses the need of the UAE society to improve both the employability of UAE nationals and the necessity for skilled graduates to manage the environment and natural resources that are the backbone of the economy of the country. Knowledge of planetary science is introduced through the study of planetary geology, remote sensing, astrobiology, astronomy and astrophysics, providing the skill set necessary for graduates to participate in the development of the UAE space sector.

 

The BSc in Earth and Planetary Sciences is pending approval from the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Program Educational Objectives
Student Learning Outcomes
  • Apply knowledge of mathematics, chemistry, physics, geology, and geophysics to the study of the Earth and planets in order to understand the processes that are active in the Earth’s interior, oceans, and atmosphere, as well as the interiors and atmospheres of other planets.
  • Apply knowledge to formulate solutions to earth and planetary science problems involving design of surveys, including acquisition and processing of experimental and remote sensing data, and make scientifically sound interpretations from results.
  • Evaluate and properly manipulate and present geological, experimental, and remote sensing data to solve earth and planetary science problems.
  • Function effectively on multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the social, ethical, and professional responsibilities in the exploration and exploitation of energy and natural resources, and a concern for major regional and global social and environmental issues.
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate in oral and written forms in English appropriate to the professional career in a wide range of fields in geoscience.
  • Demonstrate the recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, continual lifelong education.
Career Opportunities
  • Education, Tourism, Environment: Teaching, Research, Administration, University research institutes or laboratories, Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, National Center of Meteorology, Municipality.
  • Energy: Consulting firms, Equipment suppliers, government agencies (Ministry of Energy and Industry), Independent drilling companies, Petroleum industry (oil and gas exploration, production, storage, and waste disposal facilities).
  • Material/Minerals: Construction firms, Consulting Firms, Federal government agencies, Mining Companies, Quarries, Railroad companies, Well services and drilling companies.
  • Landscape, Aviation, Aerospace and Defense: Federal government agencies, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Land and Marine Authority, Ministry of Defense, Civil Defense, Municipality, Police
  • Astrogeology and Space Sciences: UAE Space Agency, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center
Career Specialization
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Planetary Geology
  • Environmental Geosciences
  • Hydrogeology and natural resources
Program Facilities
  • Microscopy and fluid inclusions laboratory
  • Scanning electron microscopy laboratory
  • Sedimentology laboratory
  • Thin sections and core preparation laboratory
  • Geochemistry and stable isotopes laboratory
  • Geophysics and computational laboratory
Structure
Course Descriptions

EPSS EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCES

 

EPSS 210 Earth Materials (2-3-3)

Prerequisites: EPSS 221; CHEM 116

This course introduces the fundamentals of mineralogy, including systematic chemistry and crystallography and physical and optical properties of minerals, emphasizing the carbonate group and silicate minerals. Students learn to use the petrographic microscope and to describe and identify a variety of rock-forming minerals in hand samples and petrographic thin-sections.

 

EPSS 221 Introduction to Geology and Geophysics (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: Freshman standing

An introduction to geology and geophysics, emphasizing the processes that form and shape Earth, petroleum geology and geophysics, and the geology of the UAE and the Middle East. Course topics include: origin of minerals and rocks; seismology; Earth’s gravity; geomagnetism; geologic time; plate tectonics; structural geology; sedimentary transport and the depositional environments of reservoirs; geo-hazards; hydrology; economic geology. The course includes at least one all-day field trip.

 

EPSS 222 Geobiology: History of Life on Earth (3-0-3)

Pre-requisites: EPSS 221; BIOL 101

Co-requisite: None

This course introduces the origin of the solar system and the early Earth; the origin and evolution of life and how this is documented in the geologic record; the tectonic, stratigraphic, and geographic evolution of continental plates. This course also introduces the concept of human impact on natural processes and the consequences of natural and anthropogenic climate changes. Principles of stratigraphy and tectonics are applied to infer the geologic history of the Arabian Plate.

 

EPSS 223 Introduction to Geochemistry (3-3-4)

Prerequisite: CHEM 116, EPSS 221

This course introduces the chemical principles that are used to explain the mechanisms that control geological systems and the evolution of these systems, including Earth’s mantle, the crust, oceans and atmosphere, and the formation of the solar system. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental geochemical tools used in geology and Earth sciences.

 

EPSS 230 Geological Maps (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 221

An ability to read, interpret and apply geological and topographic maps to the Earth System is fundamental to the Earth Sciences. The accurate collection, recording and interpretation of high-quality fieldwork data is essential to a geologist’s understanding of Earth processes and environments. Through the application of practical exercises, students will learn to apply static two-dimensional representations in order to construct and understand three-dimensional sub-surface geometries. Students will learn to employ the primary data-gathering techniques used by geologists in the field and the reasons for these.

 

EPSS 300 Matlab for Earth Scientists (2-3-3)

Prerequisites: MATH 231

The course will introduce algorithms to numerically solve mathematical problems relevant to earth sciences problems with a focus on numerical methods programming using Matlab. First the course will cover the basics of Matlab operating environment and language for computing and plotting. It will be followed by solving nonlinear algebraic equations, systems of linear equations, linear curve fitting, polynomial curve fitting, finite differences, numerical integration and differentiation and finally basic applications to earth sciences problems.

 

 

EPSS 311 Sedimentary Petrology (3-3-4)

Prerequisite: EPSS 221

Sedimentary Petrology is concerned with the origin of sediment and sedimentary rock. The course covers sedimentary processes, facies and diagenesis. Emphasis is on petrographic analysis of microfacies and diagenesis and on carbonate reservoirs and source rocks. Students learn how to characterize reservoirs using limited subsurface information from petrographic thin sections and cores. The course includes a compulsory four-day field trip.

 

EPSS 321 Structural Geology (3-3-4)

Prerequisites: PHYS 121; EPSS 221; EPSS 230

Structural geology is the study of deformed rock. The course deals with the range of structures produced in rock by deformation; with the role of structures in trapping petroleum and their effect on production and with application of structural methods in E and P. Course topics include stress and strain; rheological behavior of rock; effects of time, temperature, and pressure on deformation; kinematic and dynamic analysis of deformed rock; the origin and mechanisms of fractures, faults, and folds; structural interpretation from seismic reflection, well, and other E&P data; mapping of subsurface structures from industry data; regional structural geology of the UAE. The course includes one three-day field trip.

 

EPSS 322 Geomorphology & Geohazards (4-0-4)

Prerequisite: EPSS 321

In this course, students learn about landscape form and its evolution over time and space, and how it is impacted by the complex interplay between climate, tectonic, hydrological and cryospheric processes. Geomorphology is relevant to understanding how landscape is used and how it is altered, as it is also important for understanding the causes and effects of geohazards. An important focus for the course is landform development in different climate, space, and time perspectives.  Field excursions are included in the course.

 

EPSS 323 Solid Earth Geophysics (3-3-4)

Pre-requisite: EPSS 221, PHYS122

This course is an introduction to the quantitative analysis of Earth structure and plate tectonics using earthquake seismology, seismic reflection and refraction, gravity, magnetics, and heat flow. Methods covered in this course are applied in environmental geology, mining, petroleum, and seismology.

 

EPSS 324 Earth Systems Science (3-0-3)

Prerequisite: BIOL101, EPSS 200, EPSS 223

This course provides a look at the Earth system as a whole. Emphasis will be on the interrelationships between atmosphere, biology, geology, climatologic, and human systems on continental and global scales. The links between these systems will be illustrated by present-day processes and by the geologic record of selected events in Earth history.

 

EPSS 331 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 210

An overview of igneous and metamorphic rocks as a background for discussing their origin and distribution in relation to plate tectonics. Course topics include rocks and Earth structure, structures, textures, chemistry, and mineralogy of igneous rocks; phase rule and phase diagrams; origin and movement of magmas; metamorphism and metamorphic rock texture, structures and mineralogy, metamorphic facies and metamorphic phase diagrams.

 

EPSS 341 Paleontology (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 220

Paleontology is the study of past life. The course covers the application of taxonomic procedures to the identification of fossils and the application of paleontology in paleo-environmental and bio-stratigraphic analysis. Students learn about the fundamental morphology, modes of life, evolutionary trends, and time ranges of major macrofossil and microfossil groups. Emphasis is on fossil types that are important in the analysis and interpretation of petroleum reservoirs of the Middle East. The course includes at least one all-day field trip.

 

EPSS 361 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (2-3-3)

Prerequisites: EPSS 222; EPSS 311

Stratigraphy instructs in the sedimentological and stratigraphic methods used to analyze and interpret sedimentary sequences. Students will learn to interpret physical processes and depositional environments from sedimentary structures and textures, and to apply sequence stratigraphic methods to interpret and model facies and sedimentary basin evolution. The course incorporates modern and ancient examples from the Middle East, particularly from the UAE. The course includes five days of fieldwork.

 

PGEG397 Field Geology (0-0-4)

Prerequisites: EPSS 321; EPSS 361

Field Geology is concerned with the study of lithologies and structures in the field. Students are trained to observe and map primary and secondary structures at selected international localities. Field examples and comprehension of primary geological processes and morphologies can be used as analogues for features imaged by remote sensing techniques. The course addresses vertical and horizontal variability in sedimentary rock facies and their physical characteristics in three dimensions. The course includes up to four weeks of fieldwork, each followed by two weeks of data integration and report writing.

 

EPSS 399 Internship (1-0-1)

Pre-requisite: EPSS 351 Solid Earth Geophysics; EPSS 361 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy; EPSS 322 Geomorphology and Geohazard

Students are assigned to a variety of private and governmental companies/entities where they will work on short-duration projects allowing them to apply the acquired knowledge from the degree program, gain practical experience and become acquainted with the industry’s working environment. Each student is required to submit a written report and deliver a presentation on his/her work assignment.

 

EPSS 400 Planetary Science (3-3-4)

Prerequisite: EPSS 322, EPS 324

This course will examine the evolution of our solar system and the geology of planetary bodies, including Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. We will discuss the origin of the Solar System from a geological perspective and explore how scientists combine observations from extraterrestrial samples such as meteorites, with data returned by satellites and rovers to develop and test hypotheses related to planetary evolution. Emphasis will be on comparing geologic processes on these bodies to well-understood processes on Earth, results from past, current, and upcoming planetary missions, and the future of human and robotic exploration of space.

 

EPSS 411 Atmospheric and Climate Dynamics (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 324

This course covers the processes that drive weather patterns, the general circulation of the atmosphere, oceans, and climate on Earth. Weather phenomena occur on short time scales, and form the basis for understanding climate, the study of changes over longer time scales. Topics include the structure and composition of the atmosphere, sources of energy that drive atmospheric processes, weather forecasting, the hydrological cycle, forces that create severe weather, the influence of humans on the atmosphere, and factors that influence climate, climate variability and climate change.

 

EPSS 412 Hydrogeology (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 324, EPSS 422

This course introduces geology concepts related to the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth’s crust. It covers a range of topics related to water in the lithosphere, and its interactions with the hydrosphere and atmosphere. Specifically, the course topics include the hydrological cycle, groundwater flow, aquifer testing, and pollution with a special emphasis on the UAE fresh water systems.

 

EPSS 413 Geology of Mars and Other Planetary Bodies (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 331, EPSS 422, and senior standing

This course combines GIS, and Remotely Sensed and up-to-date NASA planetary mission data to enable students to interpret and understand geological features on Mars, Mercury, Venus and the Moon. The course evaluates how geomorphological features on Earth can help students to better understand and interpret remotely sensed data from other planets including evidence of volcanism, ice, water and soil. Furthermore, it examines the future of planetary exploration and potential of terraforming planets.

 

EPSS 422 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (2-3-3)

Prerequisite: EPSS 322

This course introduces to the concepts of geospatial analysis and digital mapping. The principles of spatial data structures, coordinate systems, database development and design, and techniques of spatial analysis are covered. This is an applied course, primarily using ESRI-based geographic information system software. The focal point of this course is the completion of student-selected research project employing GIS methods.

 

EPSS424 Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences (2 Lectures, 3 Laboratories – 3 Credits)

Pre-requisite: EPSS422 Introduction to GIS

The course covers the basic principles and essential skills of remote sensing using image visualization, processing and GIS (Geographical Information System) for geological, environmental, and/or planetary mapping. After completing the course, students should understand the physical principles of remote sensing and be familiar with the major remote sensing satellites and datasets. The students will learn the basic skills of image visualization, processing, interpretation and data manipulation for mapping. The course emphasizes the use of satellite images as essential information source for fieldwork and application to planetary sciences.

 

EPSS 497 Senior Research Project I (1-2-3)

Prerequisite: Senior Standing

This course comprises the development and initiation of an independent research project within the fields of the Earth Sciences. Prior to commencing the course, students must arrange for supervision from a Geosciences member of faculty and the topic of study must be approved by the Geosciences Program. The course comprises a significant taught component focusing on the methodologies and ethics of project proposal preparation. Following the preparation of the acceptance of the written proposal and the successful defense of the proposal presentation the student will commence work on the project.

 

EPSS 498 Petroleum Systems Project II (1-6-3)

Pre-requisite: EPSS 490

This course involves completion of a project in the student’s area of interest in some area of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Students must have arranged for supervision from an instructor and the project must have been approved by the Earth Sciences Program. The course consists mostly of independent project work.

TYPICAL STUDY SEQUENCE