Geology and Astronomy

207 Merion Science Center
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383

Dr. Srogi, Chairperson
Dr. Helmke, Graduate Coordinator

Professors [top]

Richard M. Busch, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Marc R. Gagné, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Steven C. Good, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder
Timothy M. Lutz, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Elizabeth LeeAnn Srogi, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Associate Professors

Cynthia G. Fisher, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder
Martin F. Helmke, Ph.D., Iowa State University
Joby Hilliker, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Daria Nikitina, Ph.D., University of Delaware
Arthur R. Smith, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Karen Schwarz, Ph.D., Arizona State University

Assistant Professors

Howell Bosbyshell, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College
Cynthia Hall, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

Programs of Study [top]

The Department of Geology and Astronomy offers a 36-semester-hour master of arts degree in geoscience designed for the professional development of geologists and precollege teachers. Students can obtain Pennsylvania teaching certification in earth and space science and/or general science with the appropriate selection of courses.

Admission Requirements

All applicants have the following requirements:

  1. Completed application
  2. Prerequisites of ESS 101 Introduction to Geology; CHE and CRL 103 General Chemistry I and lab; PHY 130 General Physics; MAT 105 College Algebra and Statistics; and MAT 121 Statistics I
  3. Permission of Graduate Review Committee

Applicants with teaching certification have the following requirements:

  1. Copy of teaching license
  2. If the undergraduate GPA is less than 2.8, the student must take one of these standardized tests and score as indicated: GRE (more than 1000), MAT (greater than the 50th percentile), or Praxis PPST (greater than the Pennsylvania Department of Education minimum).

Applicants without teaching certification have the following additional requirements: If the undergraduate GPA is less than 2.8 and the degree older than five years, a student may be admitted provisionally with one of these standardized tests and score as indicated: GRE (more than 1000), MAT (greater than the 50th percentile), or Praxis PPST (greater than the Pennsylvania Department of Education minimum).

Applications should be submitted to the University's Office of Graduate Studies, which will forward the application to the department's graduate coordinator. The Graduate Review Committee will screen all applications. An interview may be requested of the applicant. The admission decision will be based on the strength of the application and the interview, if scheduled.

Master of Arts in Geoscience [top]

Curriculum (36 semester hours)

  1. Core courses (required) (10 semester hours)
    ESS 523, 536, 547, and 596
  2. Courses for precollege teachers (26 semester hours)
    ESS 530 and 570, plus 20 semester hours of electives approved by their committee, at least 11 of which must be ESS or SCE courses.
  3. Courses for professional geologists (26 semester hours)
    ESS 521 and 539, plus 20 semester hours of electives approved by their committee, at least 11 of which must be ESS or SCE courses.

All students complete a project submitted as part of the degree candidacy application (after completing nine credits towards degree), and a final written project that is presented at the geoscience seminar.

General Science Teaching Certificate Requirements

The following courses will complete the requirements for secondary general science teaching certification:

  1. BIO 110, 215, 217; CHE 103 and lab, 104 and lab; ESS 101, 111, 530, 570; PHY 130 or 170, 140 or 180; 12 hours of electives within one of the above science disciplines that demonstrate proficiency in fieldwork, research, and technology (see adviser for specifics)
  2. One interdisciplinary science course (BIO 102, ENV 102, ESS 102, or SCB 210), and MAT 105 or 110 (pre-calculus) and 121 (statistics)
  3. Education course(s): SCE 350 or 550 and course work required by the College of Education.

Course Descriptions [top]

Geology and Astronomy
Symbol: ESS, except as noted

It is assumed that for all geology courses, ESS 101 is a prerequisite, and for all astronomy courses, ESS 111 is a prerequisite. In addition, any course may be taken with permission of the instructor.

502 Investigating Earth Materials (3) Origins of minerals and rocks. Observation, data collection, and analysis applied to the study of earth materials. Hands-on experience in sample identification and mineral analysis in the laboratory and field. Introduction to software and Internet resources for minerals and rocks. Preparation of teaching modules involving minerals, rocks, and local geology. Required one-day field trip on a weekend. PREREQ: ESS 101 or equivalent; CHE 103 and 104 or equivalent is strongly recommended.

505 Petrology (3) Origin, classification, and identification of rocks. Hand specimen examination. PREREQ: ESS 502.

507 Geology of the Solar System (3) The geology, origin, and properties of planets, comets, asteroids, moons, and meteorites; planetary exploration. PREREQ: One introductory course in astronomy and one in geology.

513 Principles of Geochemistry (3) Migration and distribution of the chemical elements within the earth; chemistry of the lithosphere, hydro-sphere, and biosphere; chemical changes throughout earth history; the geochemical cycle.

520 Structural Geology (3) An introduction to structural analysis: a study of the deformational features of the earth's crust and the forces responsible for producing them. PREREQ: ESS 505, or permission of instructor.

521 Geometrics (3) Application of computational and statistical methods to geological problems. Geologic sampling, data comparisons in environmental, petrologic, paleontologic, and geochemical problems.

523 The Field as a Classroom (3) A study of field techniques that enable teachers to develop lessons using field sites. Topics include researching field sites, field trip design and planning, preparatory and summative activities. Course is conducted largely in the field.

527 Electron Microscopy I (3) A one-semester lecture/laboratory course in theory operation and applications of electron beam technology in scientific research. Students receive hands-on training and complete a brief research project of their choosing. Cannot be applied to the M.A. degree without prior approval of the graduate committee. PREREQ: Six credits of college-level science or permission from the instructor.

530 Principles of Oceanography (3) Geology of the ocean floor, water movements, chemical characteristics of sea water, and vertical and horizontal distribution of plants and animals. Brief history of oceanography.

531 Introduction to Paleontology (3) Identification, paleobiology, and importance of fossils; paleoecology; and evolution.

532 Advanced Oceanography (3) An advanced course in oceanography covering resources, oceanographic literature, animal-sediment relationships, field techniques, estuaries, salt marshes, sea level changes, and pollution. PREREQ: ESS 230 or 530.

535 Introduction to Remote Sensing (3) An introduction to the science and technology of remote sensing and the applications of remote sensing data to geology, oceanography, meteorology, and the environment. Includes a discussion of the history and principles of remote sensing; fundamentals of electromagnetic radiation; theory and types of active and passive remote sensing systems; fundamentals of image interpretation; digital analysis of LANDSAT and AVHRR data; operation of environmental satellites; and future imaging systems.

536 Teaching Environmental Geology (3) Provides resources and strategies for teachers of environmental geology. Includes formulation of lesson plans, hands-on activities, and field trips. Subject matter will include natural hazards, natural resources, waste management, and sustainable development.

539 Hydrogeology (3) This applied course covers groundwater flow, well hydraulics, water resources, contaminant transport, and groundwater remediation. Familiarity with calculus is recommended. PREREQ: ESS 101 and CHE 103 or equivalent.

542 Geophysics (3) Methods and techniques of physics applied to interpreting the internal structure and composition of the earth. PREREQ: MAT 162, PHY 180, or PHY 140.

543 Geomorphology I (3) Lectures will present the constructional and degradational processes that have shaped present landforms and are constantly modifying those landforms. Laboratories will focus on the interpretation of topographic maps and the use of remote sensing materials.

544 Geomorphology II (3) A continuation of the study of earth surface processes. Laboratories will focus on the interpretation of topographic maps and the use of remote sensing materials. PREREQ: ESS 543.

547 Earth and Space Science Seminar (1) Weekly seminar course featuring guest lectures by geoscience professionals, prominent scientists, faculty, and students. Each week students will read professional literature, attend and participate in the lecture, and write a summary and/or analysis of each seminar. PREREQ: ESS 101 or department permission.

548 International Geology Field Studies (3) Field investigations of selected countries' physical environments focusing on geology and natural resources in relationship to cultural traditions, lifestyle, and sustainability. Case studies of human adaptation to local and global environmental challenges will be considered. Two hours of lecture and two hours of lab. PREREQ: ESS 101 or ESS 102 or permission of instructor.

550 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (3) The nature and origin of stratified deposits; the temporal-spatial relationships among stratified deposits, and other geologic and biologic phenomena; and the reconstruction of paleoenvironments.

555 Intermediate Astronomy (3) An analytical and qualitative analysis of selected astronomical topics: orbits, stellar properties, telescopes, photometry, solar surface details, nebulae, galaxies, and stellar evolution. Two-hour lecture and two-hour lab, including independent observatory work. PREREQ: Any descriptive astronomy course and algebra/trigonometry.

562 History of Astronomy (3) The development of astronomical theories from Greek times to the 20th century. PREREQ: Any descriptive astronomy course.

570 Principles of Meteorology (3) An in-depth study of the dynamic nature of the atmosphere with an emphasis on the role of weather-related phenomena in daily life.

571 Advanced Meteorology (3) An in-depth study of atmospheric phenomena such as midlatitude cyclones, global and local wind systems, hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. Includes basics of weather forecasting models and prediction techniques.

580 Special Problems (1-3) Study of special topics and current developments in the earth and space sciences. PREREQ: Permission of instructor.

590 Fundamentals of Soil (3) Soil properties, classification, and genesis from geologic, agricultural, and engineering perspectives. Topics include pedology, soil physics, geotechnical engineering, erosion, septic systems, soil contamination, and remediation. PREREQ: ESS 101.

591 Independent Study (1-3) An investigation by the student. PREREQ: Permission of department. This course may be taken again for credit.

596 Earth Systems Science (3) Energy drives interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and ecosphere producing an earth system of biogeochemical cycles that may be in homeostasis or change. The geological records of past icehouse and greenhouse climates are examined as potential models for evaluating the consequences of human-induced global environmental change and the choices that face society at local, national, and international scales. Instruction and assessments designed to model innovative strategies and current themes in earth systems science. PREREQ: ESS 523, 530, 536, 570, and 12 credits of program electives, or permission of instructor.

603 Directed Research II (3) A theory is developed on a research problem for which the student produces a graduate paper. PREREQ: Permission of adviser. This course may be taken again for credit.

Science Education
Symbol: SCE

500 Modern Trends in Science Education (3) Introduction to current research in science education; a critical review of the literature.

520 PK-4 Science Instruction (3) A science methods course for Pre-K teachers and administrators to master classroom and materials preparation and the design of developmentally effective instruction and assessment. Methods that promote children's ability to inquire and master Pennsylvania academic standards in science and technology and environment and ecology will be addressed. PREREQ: Completion of science and math requirements.

530 Science Methods for Middle Level 4-8 (3) A course to prepare the middle-level teachers for teaching science with a focus on the developmental and pedagogical needs of middle-level students. Teacher candidates will apply science content, develop knowledge on how students learn science, explore materials and resources, and learn how to plan and access effective standards based on middle level science instruction. (15 hours of Level 3 Field Experience) PREREQ: Completion of math and science requirements.

550 Science Education in the Secondary School (3) Philosophy, objectives, and methods of science teaching for grades 7-12. Practical experience provided. PREREQ: For pre-service teachers, formal admission to teacher education and up-to-date criminal record, child abuse, FBI, and TB clearances.

595 Elementary School Science Instruction (3) A course to improve the science content backgrounds of elementary school teachers and administrators.