Short Courses

Dig Deep Into Geology This Autumn!

Interested in geology? From the formation of our planet to exploring the make up of Scotland's hills and coastlines, here are our Term 1 Science and Nature Short Courses on offer this autumn.

This year, we are excited that our Term 1 Science and Nature Short Courses coincide with the Scottish Geology Festival, which has inspiring events all over the country during September and October 2021.

See the Scottish Geology Trust's website for further details

As well as having a rich history in the science of geology, being home to James Hutton (the Father of Modern Geology), in Scotland we are extremely fortunate to have some of the most diverse geology of anywhere in the world, and it has had a big influence on many aspects of the way we live from both the past to the present.

There is no better way to immerse yourself in Scotland’s rich natural and scientific history than to learn about the diverse science of geology on one of our Term 1 courses. And in the run up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow this November where some key decisions will be made about how we tackle the climate emergency, it's a great time for concerned citizens to learn about how the planet works.

Photo of the geology of Scotland's hills

If you’d like a systematic approach to geology's first principles, then perhaps Earth Science: An Introduction (Course 1) is the right course for you. Taught by Fiona McGibbon, this online course takes you from the big picture of the Earth’s place in the solar system, to understanding plate tectonics and how the Earth works. Along the way you’ll learn about the processes that create igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Book 'Earth Science: An Introduction' Here


Alternatively, you can learn about the rich geology that makes up Scotland in two complementary courses with Angus Miller - Geology of Scotland’s Hills (Online) and Geology of Scotland’s Coast (Online). Both the Highlands and Southern Uplands of Scotland were instrumental in the development of the science of geology in the 19th century. In the north-west Highlands, close study of the rocks demonstrated they had moved sideways, an important leap in understanding that horizontal compression builds mountains. The early geologists recognised this in the rocks of Scotland almost 100 years before we understood why it happens. Plate tectonics (horizontal movement of large sections of the Earth’s crust) was not fully accepted until the mid-20th century.

Book 'Geology of Scotland's Hills' Here


Even further back in the development of scientific ideas, in the 18th century the rocks of Scotland played a key role in demonstrating that the Earth was unimaginably old, and that slow processes continuously shape its surface. James Hutton set sail along the coast of south-east Scotland to look for evidence of what he called ‘a succession of former worlds’. He found Siccar Point, where two sets of rocks are juxtaposed at different angles, a site now famously known as ‘Hutton’s Unconformity’. Old grey tough gritty sandstone lies vertically, beneath younger red desert sandstones. Hutton was able to appreciate the different natural processes that had formed the rocks of this spectacular rocky promontory. The junction between these two sets of rocks represents a time gap of millions of years!

Over six weeks, the Geology of Scotland’s Coast course explores what the coasts and islands reveal about the long geological history of Scotland, how the rocks make the coastline we recognise today and how it affects us. Looking into the future, you will also learn about how our coast will change as sea level rises and the climate changes – and how we will need to adapt to these changes.

Book 'Geology of Scotland's Coast' Here


Understanding our the environment we live in both in terms of its history, evolution and how it will change in the future is one greatest ways to appreciate and understand the world we live in. We guarantee that you will never look at the landscape in the same way again! Our geology courses and the wider Scottish Geology Festival provide you with the means to explore our fascinating world in depth, and will surely inspire a love for learning that you can apply wherever you go. After all, geology and geological processes, are everywhere...


View our full list of Term 1 Science & Nature Geology Short Courses Here