Graduate Courses

The Department of Geosciences offers graduate courses in many fields in the geosciences. The breadth of course offerings reflects the diverse research opportunities in the department and are focused on helping provide necessary background for students to successfully complete the graduate program. An advisement committee sets each student’s curriculum in the graduate program upon enrollment. Many courses include a lecture and laboratory component and some require field trips. For more information about the courses below, including the required prerequisites, see Baylor University’s Graduate Catalog.

4312 Oceanography Physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the oceans with special emphasis on the direct and indirect relationships of humans to the oceans. Such topics as mining the sea and its floor, farming the seas, and influence of the oceans on weather are included. Field trips and laboratory exercises.


4313 Astronomy A brief history of astronomy developments followed by a survey of the dimensions, motions, and interrelationships of bodies in our solar system. Additional emphasis is given to galaxies, stellar evolution, and cosmology.


4314 Meteorology Composition of the atmosphere, atmospheric processes, weather disturbances, and climate elements and controls. Emphasis is placed on climate classification and measurements of human inputs into the atmosphere. 


4322 Global Biogeochemical Cycles The chemistry of the earth’s surface. Emphasis on the dynamic chemical and biological reactions on land, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere and their influence upon the global budgets and cycling of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Includes field trips.


4325 Economic Mineral Deposits Non-hydrocarbon economic mineral deposits. Origin and migration of ore-bearing fluids; mineralogy and geometry of ore bodies; relations of ore deposits to magnetism and tectonics. Field trip to Central Texas mining district.  


4328 Sedimentary Petrology Microscopic and field characteristics of sedimentary rocks. Emphasis on interpretation of depositional and diagenetic environments and relationships between geometry of rock bodies and sedimentary processes.  


4331 Evolutionary History of Plants The evolutionary history of plants as studied through the fossil record, including preservation, plant morphology and anatomy, and techniques used to reconstruct paleoenvironment and paleoecology. Weekly labs, with one weekend field trip.  


4332 Science Leadership: Community Environmental Research (Cross-listed as ENV 4332) Development of science leadership skills through community-based research on environmental problems.



4335 Volcanology Analysis of volcanic ejecta. Mechanisms of lava and pyroclastic eruptions. Geomorphological analysis of volcanic land forms. History of volcanological studies and case studies of well-known volcanoes. Field trips.  


4336 Analytical Techniques in Geochemistry Principles and practice of X-ray fluorescence and electron probe analysis of geologic materials. Includes extensive laboratory work.  


4337 Paleoecology Relationship of fossil plants and animals to their physical and biological environment. Examination of principles of paleosynecology and paleoautecology; data gathering, analysis, and techniques of interpretation.


4339 Advanced Marine Field Studies (Cross-listed as BIO 4339) Field examination of marine environments. Individual research projects emphasize biology and geology of carbonate depositional regimes.  


4340 Geomorphology Development and modification of land-surface forms by atmospheric, fluvial, glacial, mass wasting, volcanic, and tectonic agents. Emphasis is placed on the spatial aspects of landscape evolution.  


4341 Introduction to Hydrology Basic applied techniques in surface and ground water hydrology. Surface water hydrology will incorporate analysis of precipitation records, runoff processes, and calculation of flood hazard. Ground water hydrology will emphasize hydrogeology techniques, including simple models of ground water movement.  


4345 Water Management (Cross-listed as ENV 4345) Interdisciplinary field of water management. Scientific, technical, institutional, economic, legal, and political aspects of water management.


4346 Hydrogeology Hydrogeology (ground water hydrology) for geologists and engineers. Topics to be covered include evaporation and precipitation, soil moisture, principles of ground water flow, regional ground water flow, geology of ground water occurrence, flow to wells, ground water chemistry, and ground water development and management.


4348 Geoarchaeology (Cross-listed as ANT 4348) Concepts and methods of the geosciences applied to solving archaeological problems. Emphasis on stratigraphy, soils, climate, dating techniques, site formation, and site processes


4361 Petroleum Geoscience Concepts Geologic controls on the formation and accumulation of oil and gas, including concepts, equipment, data types and analytical procedures used in exploration and production.


4371 Wetlands (Cross-listed as ENV 4371) Theory and application of the wetland concepts: classification, hydrology, biochemistry, soils, vegetation, construction, regulation, and delineation. Field lab.  


4373 Global Soil Systems (Cross-listed as ENV 4374) Fundamentals of soil genesis, classification, geomorphology, ecosystems, and environmental interpretation. Includes the role of soil biogeochemical cycles in past, current, and future global change issues. Field lab.  


4375 Natural Landscape Evaluation and Planning (Cross-listed as ENV 4375) Recognition of natural features that affect human uses. Evaluation of natural landscapes on a scale from complete preservation to full development. Experience in urban landscapes. Includes one or more Saturday field trips.


4386 Remote Sensing (Cross-listed as AVS 4386, BIO 4386, ENV 4386) Physical mechanisms of surface and atmospheric materials absorption, transmittance, reflection, and emittance of light measured by various remote sensing platforms. Survey various applications related to earth science, ecology, meteorology, and environmental science.  


4389 Quaternary Geology An examination through morphologic, stratigraphic, and biogeochemical proxy data of the nature of earth environments, focusing on the three most important components: Quaternary stratigraphies, Quaternary chronologies, and Quaternary environmental proxies and their interpretation.  


4430 Vertebrate Paleontology (Cross-listed as BIO 4430) Evolutionary history and biogeography of vertebrate animals, based primarily on fossil evidence. Laboratory activities include study of fossil material, field excavations, and visits to museums.


4453 Advanced Three-Dimensional Seismic Interpretation Techniques used to extract geological information from three-dimensional seismic reflection data. Laboratory emphasizing interpretation of real data sets, integration of other geologic and geophysical data, and construction of subsurface maps and sections.  


4455 Introduction to Seismology Theory of wave propagation in the Earth, earthquake mechanics, Earth structure, interpretation of seismograms, faults, seismotectonics, earthquake locations, magnitudes, and focal mechanisms.  


4457 Geophysical Exploration I Exploration geophysics, using gravity, magnetics, heat flow, telluric currents, resistivity, and other methods of remote sensing of hidden geological phenomena exclusive of seismic exploration. Laboratory work will emphasize geological interpretation of geophysical data.  


4458 Geophysical Exploration II Exploration geophysics, using latest seismic techniques and well-log analyses, with emphasis on petroleum exploration.


4459 Engineering Geology Soil and rock mechanics. Analysis of geotechnical problems in the field and lab, report preparation, and computer evaluation of geotechnical problems.


4485 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (Cross-listed as AVS 4485, ENV 4485) The course covers the use of GIS to acquire primary geographic data, solve geographic problems, automate geographic analysis, and render explanations for geographic patterns and trends. Students will use the latest GIS software and data layers in a lab section.


4487 Advanced GIS Analysis (Cross-listed as AVS 4487, ENV 4487) Principles and techniques for geospatial data collection, manipulation, modeling, visualization, and analysis. Emphasis is placed on current raster modeling techniques, spatial statistical analysis methods, and using GIS as a predictive tool for environmental research.  


5110 History of Geology Evolution of geological thought.


5252 Seismic Stratigraphy Interpretation of seismic data for the purpose of inferring stratigraphic changes and depositional environments.  


5308 Advanced Studies in Earth Science Special topics in earth science. May be repeated once with change of content.  


5314 Advanced Topics in Paleoclimatology Special topics in paleoclimatology, including discussions of climate change events in earth history and methods for reconstructing ancient climates including paleoclimate proxies and general circulation models. May be repeated once with change of topic.  


5315 Clastic/Carbonate Depositional Systems Criteria for the recognition of clastic and carbonate depositional environments.  


5318 Advanced Studies in Geophysics Special topics in geophysics. May be repeated with change of content.  


5320 Geochemistry Advanced standing in geology. Application of isotope geochemistry, thermodynamics, and phase equilibrium studies to the solution of geological problems.  


5321 Isotope Geochemistry Theory and application of stable and radioactive isotopes in geology with particular emphasis on the use of stable isotopes in solving environmental and hydrogeologic problems.  


5322 Organic Geochemistry Investigate the chemical composition of organic matter in soils, sediments, and petroleum source rocks. Interpretation of biomarkers and molecular proxies. The course includes an intensive review of the requisite organic chemistry concepts and nomenclature.


5325 Advanced Studies in Geochemistry-Petrology Special topics in geochemistry-petrology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5329 Igneous Petrology Intensive examination of igneous rocks. Format and subject material will vary from year to year, but will include descriptive and genetic aspects of igneous rocks and their relationships to tectonic settings. Laboratory and field trips.  


5331 Field Geology for Earth Scientists I Field experience in the American West. Designed with exercises to acquaint graduate earth science majors with the fundamentals of field geology. Offered in the field during summer sessions for three hours of credit.  


5332 Field Geology for Earth Scientists II Continuation of GEO 5331. Offered in the field during summer season


5333 Modern/Ancient Depositional Environments I Field study of depositional systems and facies. Course participants will examine modern depositional environments varying from fluvial, deltaic, beach, and near shore systems to modern barrier and fringing reefs along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and in the Caribbean. These depositional environments will be used to interpret ancient sedimentary facies examined in the field during the last portion of the course. Offered in the field during summer session for three hours of credit.  


5334 Modern/Ancient Depositional Environments II Continuation of GEO 5333. Offered in the field during the summer session for three hours of credit.  


5335 Principles of Micropaleontology Taxonomy, morphology, evolution, paleoecology, and stratigraphic occurrence of important microfossils. Independent field and laboratory problems may be required.


5337 Advanced Studies in Remote Sensing Geomorphology Special topics in remote sensing and geomorphology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5338 Advanced Studies in Paleontology Special topics in paleontology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5339 Sandstone Petrology Petrography of clastic sedimentary rocks. Includes mineralogical study, provenance analysis, and diagenetic interpretation. Field trips.  


5340 Paleopedology Field, microscopic, and geochemical analysis of fossil soils (paleosols) and comparison with modern analog soils; interpretation of changes in paleoweathering processes, paleoclimate, and paleoatmospheric chemistry over 4.6 billion years of earth history based on paleosols.  


5341 Cordilleran Tectonics Geologic history of the North American Cordillera from Precambrian to present, based on analysis of stratigraphic, structural, paleomagnetic, and paleobiogeographic constraints.  


5342 Micromorphology of Soils and Paleosols The description, interpretation, and measurement of components, features, and fabrics in soils and paleosols, at the microscopic level.  


5343 Advanced Field Sequence Stratigraphy Concepts of facies analysis and spatial prediction are presented within a sequence stratigraphic context. The course is conducted as a three-week field excursion to various locations within the southwestern USA. The course emphasizes both outcrop and subsurface problem solving, and is supplemented by extensive literature review. 


 5344 Field Structural Geology I Instruction in advanced and specialized methods of structural analysis applied to a variety of problems in structural geology. Both local and regional structural relationships will be studied. Location of field study areas will be determined by instructor.  


5345 Advanced Sequence Stratigraphic Concepts Instruction in the controls on sediment accumulation and distribution through time, and strategies for local and regional cyclostratigraphic correlation and associated stratal classification and interpretation.  


5347 Advanced Hydrogeology Analytical techniques and concepts necessary for hydrogeologic research and problem solving. Areas of emphasis will include field methods, well hydraulics, and computer models of ground water systems. Occasional field trips will be required as part of the laboratory.  


5348 Applied Ground Water Modeling Lectures on the theory of analytical and numerical models applied to hydrogeological research. Laboratory exercises will involve solving hydrogeological problems, using the models discussed in lecture.  


5349 Urban Geology Interrelationships between geological processes and urban development. Case histories and applied field projects will be examined in surrounding urban areas.  


5350 Geostatistics Advanced topics in spatial statistics. Knowledge of basic statistics is expected (e.g., calculation of mean, variance, and covariance). Fundamentals of variograms. Methodologies for best linear unbiased estimates with and without drift of the mean value. Major elements and applications of Kriging and coKriging algorithms.


5368 Advanced Studies in Sedimentary Geology Special topics in sedimentary geology. May be repeated once with change of content.  


5369 Advanced Studies in Petroleum Geology Special topics in petroleum geology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5377 Advanced Studies in Structural Geology-Tectonics Special topics in structural geology-tectonics. May be repeated with change of content.  


5378 Advanced Studies in Hydrogeology Special topics in hydrogeology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5388 Advanced Studies in Hydrology-Engineering Geology Special topics in hydrology-engineering geology. May be repeated with change of content.  


5389 Earth System Science The emphasis of this course is placed on climate changes and the associated environmental variations of different timescales and their forcing mechanisms (including human impacts). Defining the current climatic dynamics and predicting the future trends, based on the changing patterns of different timescales, are the concluding parts of this course.  


5398 Advanced Studies in Environmental-Urban Geology Special topics in environmental-urban geology. May be repeated once with change of content.  


5457 Gravity, Magnetic, and Electrical Exploration Theory and applications of gravitational, magnetic, and electrical techniques to subsurface exploration.  


5458 Seismic Exploration Seismic refraction and reflection techniques and their application to determining Earth structure. 


 5459 Seismic Data Analysis Topics chosen from earthquake location, focal mechanism computation, surface wave dispersion measurement, 1D inversion techniques, regional tomographic inversion, receiver functions, ray theory in spherical geometry, seismic attenuation, seismic anisotropy, seismic focusing, reflected phases, stacking, and interpretations of seismic results in light of other geophysical constraints.  


5465 Petroleum Geology Origin, migration, and accumulation of petroleum. Exploration and production methods for hydrocarbon recovery.  


5656 Application of Geophysics to Environmental Engineering Problems A field course in which seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical, electromagnetic, well logging and ground penetrating radar techniques are used to solve problems associated with waste disposal, groundwater, and engineering characterizations. 


 5V90 Special Problems in Geology 1 to 5 sem. hrs. Individual course in which students solve a geologic problem and submit a written report.


5050 Geology Technical Sessions A forum for: (a) outside speakers, (b) presentation of student research, (c) discussion of current geologic and geophysical literature, and (d) guidance in thesis preparation. May be repeated as required by the department. M.S. and M.A. students must attend at least four semesters. Ph.D. candidates must attend while in residence.


5V99 Thesis 1 to 6 sem. hrs. Research, data analysis, writing, and oral defense of an approved master’s thesis. At least six hours of GEO 5V99 are required.


6V99 Dissertation 1 to 12 sem. hrs. Required of all doctoral candidates. In no case will less than twelve semester hours be accepted for a dissertation. Students may not enroll for dissertation hours until they have been officially accepted into candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. After initial enrollment, students must enroll for at least one semester hour of dissertation every semester (summer semester excluded).

Department of Geosciences

Baylor Sciences Building, Room D.409

(254) 710-2361