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The University of Southampton

SOES2004 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the common rock forming minerals of igneous and metamorphic rocks in both hand specimen and thin-section.
  • Identify key textural/micro structural features of igneous and metamorphic rocks and appreciate the significance of such features with regard to geological processes that have operated.
  • Assign a name to an igneous or metamorphic rock on the basis of its mineralogical and textural characteristics, and appreciate the environment(s) of formation.
  • Practical experience of rock and mineral identification in hand specimen and in thin-section using a transmitted light microscope.
  • Ability to interpret phase diagrams relevant to igneous systems and petrogenic grids relevant to metamorphic systems on the basis of mineral assemblages recorded in the rock.
  • Ability to make detailed and annotated petrographic sketches from thin-section observation and to summarise the salient features and relate the chemistry of the system and environment of formation.


Methods: Coverage of igneous rock classification (mineralogical/geochemical); the use of geochemistry in petrogenetic concepts; an introduction to phase petrology and the concepts of partial melting and fractional crystallisation; a brief review of the main igneous rock spectrum and their tectonic setting. Introduction to the concept of metamorphic facies as a means of defining P-T conditions; quantitative geothermometry/ geobarometry; evaluating the role of bulk rock chemistry, fluid chemistry and P-T conditions in controlling metamorphic reactions; interpretation of textures and microstructures of metamorphic rocks. Practicals: Hand specimen and thin-section description of various igneous and metamorphic rocks. Evaluation of P-T condition of metamorphism based on phase assemblages.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide an introduction to the theory underlying metamorphism, phase petrology, igneous rock classification and the use of geochemistry in petrogenetic concepts. Practical classes & demonstrations: will exemplify the theory and allow you to develop skills in hand specimen and thin section description of various igneous and metamorphic rocks. Practical classes are fully interactive affording hands-on experience of using geological equipment under laboratory conditions. Practical manuals are an integral part of the course. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study88
Practical classes and workshops36
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Assessment Method Theory examination (50%): A 2-hour written examination comprising two sections - one on igneous petrology and the other on metamorphic petrology. A total of 3 questions must be answered, with at least 1 from each section. Tests learning outcomes 1-2. Igneous coursework (25%): Three pieces of coursework to be handed in at the end of practical classes (10% total) and a practical examination of petrological techniques in igneous systems and knowledge of igneous terminology and processes (15% total). Tests Learning Outcomes 1-3. Metamorphic coursework (25%): Two pieces of coursework to be handed in at the end of practical classes and a practical examination. Tests Learning Outcomes 1-3.


MethodPercentage contribution
Igneous coursework 25%
Metamorphic coursework 25%
Theory examination  (2 hours) 50%

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

SOES1001Earth Materials
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