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The University of Southampton

SOES2035 Physics, Fieldwork & Key Skills for Geophysicists

Module Overview

The module covers both development of relevant techniques, methodology and other key skills for geophysical fieldwork, and a practical field course. The aim of the Physics Skills component is to develop a range of skills needed by geophysicists, including facility in conducting experiments and in analysing data.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand and apply the principles of data analysis and interpretation in a number of geophysical exploration methods.
  • Use GMT software to analyse and present 1D and 2D data.
  • Accurately locate yourself in the field, and make essential field observations and measurements, including recognition of major rock types and geological structures and relationships between geology and landscape.
  • Use a compass-clinometer with familiarity to measure simple geological structures.
  • Make a simple geological map and construct a geological cross-section on the basis of a geological map.
  • Communicate effectively by writing reports with appropriate structure and referencing, by making oral presentations, and by writing a CV.
  • Carry out basic physical laboratory experiments, analysing and interpreting the results and keeping records in a laboratory logbook.
  • Generic skills: Data handling and reporting. Simple use of Unix computers. CV writing.
  • Subject-specific Skills: Use of GMT and Seismic-Unix software. Shell scripting.


You will: - Receive instruction in data handling, processing and analysis using software such as GMT. - Be trained in the collection of applied geophysical datasets. - Carry out a series of exercises to analyse and report on results from applied geophysical surveys. - Be trained in basic geological field mapping and carry out a simple mapping exercise.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures/tutorials: To introduce the basics of data handling and analysis using the GMT software. To develop skills in reading and assimilating scientific papers. To provide feedback and review sessions on the computing practicals. Computer Practicals: To give experience in using GMT and lead to extended exercises in applied geophysical data analysis and reporting. Fieldwork: 8-day residential field course, usually in Ingleton, which will develop the student's observation and mapping skills, necessary to complete a comprehensive geological map, and to produce a report on the geology of the area. Lecture: on the remote sensing of the Ingleton excursion area prior to the field course. Physics laboratory classes: Laboratory classes are held in the first year teaching laboratory on level 3 of the Physics Building (Building 46). These consist of 9 weeks of Experiments and 2 weeks of Data Analysis. The first three weeks consist of Linked Experiments on the topic of Electronic Circuits. A short course in Data Analysis (evaluation of errors) occupies weeks 4-5. During weeks 7-11, the class is divided into 2 groups (X and Y) each of which is divided further into sub-groups. Each subgroup cycles through the following sequence of 3 different types of experiment, or segments. - Linked experiments in which a particular subject is explored experimentally via an extended set of experiments. - Stand-alone experiments in which specific topics are explored experimentally. Stand-alone experiments are expected to be completed in a single 4 slot session. Each segment occupies 3 weeks so that by the end of second term (ie week 33) students will have completed all three segments. Students work singly for Linked experiments and in pairs for Standalone experiments. Attendance at all classes is compulsory. There are no referrals or deferrals for the Physics part of this module in the Summer Supplementary Examination period. If you fail in this module (or are deferred), the normal referral (deferral) procedure is to take the module again in the following academic year. Attendance at Careers Advisory Service sessions as advised. A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Practical classes and workshops90
Independent Study120
Total study time300



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 25%
Data Analysis 55%
Fieldwork 20%
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