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Unit of study_

GEOS2924: Fossils and Tectonics (Advanced)

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit has the same objectives as GEOS2124 and is suitable for students who wish to pursue aspects of the subject in greater depth. Entry is restricted and selection is made from the applicants on the basis of their performance to date. Students that elect to take this unit will participate in alternatives to some aspects of the standard unit and will be required to pursue independent work to meet unit objectives. This unit may be taken as part of the BSc (Advanced).

Unit details and rules

Unit code GEOS2924
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOL2123 or GEOL2124 or GEOS2124
A mark of 75 or above in [(GEOS1003 or GEOS1903) or (GEOS2114 or GEOS2914)]
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Maria Seton,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment hurdle task Summative 1
8% - 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam hurdle task Final exam
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8 LO10 LO7
Assignment hurdle task Week 2 practical
3% Week 03 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Week 3 practical
3% Week 04 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Week 4 practical
3% Week 05 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Week 5 practical
3% Week 06 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Week 6 practical
3% Week 07 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO9 LO8 LO4
Skills-based evaluation hurdle task Assignment
20% Week 08 5 days
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO6 LO5 LO4
Assignment hurdle task Week 8 practical
3% Week 09 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9
Assignment hurdle task Week 9 practical
3% Week 10 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9
Assignment hurdle task Week 10 practical
3% Week 11 4 hours (2h in class + ca. 2h homework)
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9
Assignment hurdle task Summative 2
8% Week 11 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5 LO8 LO10
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Stratigraphy and lithostragraphy Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 02 Biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Biostratigraphy Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 03 Geochronology and introductionto fossils Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Magnetostratigraphy Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 04 Archaean and proterozoic eons Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Relative and absolute age dating Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 05 Palaeozoic eon Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Taphonomy and taxonomy Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 06 Invertebrate fossils Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Yass fossils Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 07 Introduction to Geological Mapping Field trip (40 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 08 Fractures and faults Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Contours, form lines & map analysis Science laboratory (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 09 Folds and fold systems Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Stereonet for 3D geometrical analysis Science laboratory (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 10 Forces, tractions and stresses Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Paleostress analysis Science laboratory (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 11 Summary of structural geology Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 12 Mesozoic-Cenozoic Eras and Biogeography Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Oceans, fossils and tectonics Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 13 Australia's megafauna, 'Life at the Edge' and exam revision Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO8 LO9 LO10

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance to lectures and practicals is compulsory unless there is a clash with other UoS, or unless special consideration has been granted. Students must come to the lecture prepared by reading the lecture notes and completing pre-lecture activities.

Covid-19: Due to the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 situation, it may be the case that lectures and/or practicals will be conducted online. Please refer to specific details on Canvas and communication from your lecturers for further details.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand and apply concepts relating to stratigraphy and geological times
  • LO2. recognize major fossil groups and understand their evolution through geological times
  • LO3. document, characterize and map structures accommodating deformation of sedimentary rocks, and sedimentary rock formations
  • LO4. construct accurate cross-sections across fold systems, perform paleostress analysis, perform 3D geometrical analysis of structural data using stereographic projection and stereonet canvas
  • LO5. undertake geological mapping and enquiries in sedimentary basins, combining stratigraphy, analysis of fossil records and structural geology
  • LO6. in the field, source and analyse information, assess its reliability and significance
  • LO7. understand the transformation of organic matter into fossil fuel such as hydrocarbon and coal
  • LO8. communicate scientific information appropriately, both orally and through written work
  • LO9. engage in teamwork for scientific investigations and for the process of learning
  • LO10. develop a sense of responsibility, ethical behaviour and independence as a learner and as a scientist.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Fossils fuel content has been replaced with content around more recent history of fossils and life. Added a practical in week 12 and lectures to week 13 to be consistent with the usual 13 week semester (as opposed to the 12 week semester last year).

Additional costs

Information on the fieldtrip, including costs and logistical details will be available on the Canvas site in the first two weeks of semester.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 

  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 

  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 

  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 

  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 

As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University is following advice from the government and related public health authorities. For the latest advice, please see

In some classes, especially those involving the use of shared equipment, please follow additional advice from your lecturers.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.