by Mike Horne FGS, Hull University
Some general information about the courses.
The classes are held in the Earth Science Laboratory, of the Geography Department, in the Cohen Building, at the University of Hull, Cottingham Road. The are organised by the Centre for Lifelong Learning (Centre for Life Long Learning, The University of Hull, Freepost HU588, Hull, HU6 7BR Tel. 01482 465415; e-mail Cll@Hull.ac.uk ). (Here are links to a Map of the University of Hull campus and the C.L.L. )
We are guests of the Geography Dept and privileged to be able to use their facilities and collection. Students are asked to treat equipment and specimens with care and ensure that they are returned to the correct drawer or cupboard. Safety instructions will be given at ther start of every course.
Previous experience is not normally required for these classes, but may be useful for some of them. There is usually a mix of people on the course: some with no previous knowledge, some who have been collecting rocks and fossils for a while, some who are interested in discovering more about their local landscape and environment and some with previous qualifications (even PhDs) in geology.
The classes are largely based on my own experience and research into local geology, and we study the rocks, fossils and landscapes that you can find for yourself in eastern Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. The courses together will give a good all-round geological education. The microscopy courses introduce techniques that are not normally available to amateurs. The Dynamic Earth tackles the bigger picture - the large scale cycles that affect the whole of our planet.
There is great emphasis in the courses on practical work with specimens and fieldwork. Students are encouraged to bring specimens from their own collection into the class whether for the practical work or just to show others and get advice.
I aim to train the students to make and record their own scientific observations. I am more interested in passing on techniques than testing the students' abilities to memorize facts.
The indoor classes usually last 2 hours and are usually on Wednesday evenings, starting at 7-30pm. I will normally give an informal talk, illustrated with OHP, slides or video-microscope, for the first hour and this will be followed by practical work with individual help and advice. We do not normally stop for half-term.
The first meeting of each course includes information on safety, correct use of the facilities, equipment you will need, the UFA, and the plans for the course. Students that have not pre-registered can register at this meeting. I like to find out what previous geological experience students have and ask if there are any special interests that they would like me to cover in the course. This is usually followed by a slide show.
Personal information is kept confidential. I will ask students for personal details for courses that involve fieldwork to aid communication between sessions - this will be destroyed at the end of the course.
The courses are assessed and lead towards a University Foundation Award (UFA). The successful completion of a class of 20 hours tuition will result in 10 UFA credits, plus a certificate for that class. To achieve the UFA itself the student must have 50 credits plus a 'final piece of work' worth 10 credits. You do not have to stop coming to courses when you have got your 60 credits, you can just keep collecting them and enjoying the classes! Here is a link to more information about the UFA.
To get the UFA credits for the course: the student should attend 70% of the classes and pass the assessment set by the tutor. For my courses the assessed work usually takes the form of a quiz sheet or short reports, plus a copy of some of the notes made during the practical or fieldwork classes. I also am willing to assess the students' progress in other ways if they prefer - such as a private discussion, the student giving a talk to the class, a poster, or a display of their work.
I am willing to supervise the 'final piece of work' and encourage students to treat this as a piece of scientific research. Projects that students have undertaken include: the fossils and stratigraphy of the Red Chalk, study of granites in thin section, the sedimetology of the boulder clays of Holderness, glacial erratics on the Holderness coast, geological evidence for biblical events, dinosaurs and a glacial lake in the Yorkshire Dales. Because the project may include fieldwork, I recommend students to carry it out when the weather and tides are at their best and need not wait until they have completed their 50 credits before starting it.
The laboratory based classes should be suitable for disabled students, and the building has access for wheel chairs (though I am not sure that the toilets are wheelchair friendly). The microscopy classes may not be suitable for people with back or eyesight problems. The fieldwork involves walking over uneven terrain and gentles slopes, sometimes in slippery conditions. Because of my own dyslexia I try to be sensitive to students with reading and writing problems.