• Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Earth and Marine Science
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Environmental Studies, Geology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Gregory Yaxley
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course has been adjusted for remote participants however attendance at on-campus activities is preferable.

This course provides an introduction to powerful analytical techniques used to determine the elemental and isotopic compositions of Earth materials such as rocks, minerals, microfossils, corals and water. It includes understanding types of instrumentation and other analytical techniques essential to the Earth Sciences, how to assess data quality and how to document and present results effectively. It will prepare students for the analytical aspects of their Honours research projects. The course will also develop students theoretical and practical understanding of the geochemical and/or mineralogical techniques that they will deploy in their research.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Describe the theoretical and practical aspects of major analytical instrumentation (including electron microprobe, FTIR, XRF, XRD, mass spectrometery - ICPMS, TIMS, SIMS) used across the Earth Sciences in fields such as geochemistry, mineralogy, biogeochemistry, marine and climate science. The emphasis is on instrumentation and laboratories available to students at RSES.
  2. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different analytical techniques for different applications.
  3. Appraise the advantages and disadvantages of different analytical techniques for a research program.
  4. Undertake data assessment and quality control.
  5. Explain the requirements for data documentation and reporting in a professional context.
  6. Design an analytical work-flow to acquire data and achieve the research objectives of their project.
  7. Process data from the chosen instruments and demonstrate understanding of the limitations and quality of the data. Justify the approach taken to data processing.
  8. Write a clear and concise justification and description of the analytical techniques employed, suitable for publication in a scientific journal.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Theory exams (best 2 of 3 exams) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Practical exercises including problems and use of datasets designed to explore and illustrate basic principles of instrumentation and production of high-quality data (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Present a written justification and description of the analytical techniques to be employed in the research project, suitable for publication in a scientific journal (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
  4. Oral presentation (30 minutes) to class outlining their proposed analytical campaign and justifying the approach to be taken and instrumentation to be used in terms of the research objectives (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


A total of 30 hours of lectures and 35 hours of practicals. Students are expected to spend an additional 60 hours on work related to practicals and to prepare  a  report for the chosen analytical technique.

Inherent Requirements


Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be enrolled in POTE-HSPC or EMSC-HSPC honours specialisation. Incompatible with EMSC4020, EMSC8022, EMSC8024.

Prescribed Texts

An appropriate reading list will be provided during the course.

Assumed Knowledge

Basic knowledge of mathematics and chemistry.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4110
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3573 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 In Person View

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