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Rhodes>Geology>BSc Honours in Geology

BSc Honours

The BSc Honours program is an intense-10 month course that will qualify you for a professional career as a geologist. Applications for registration are welcome but usually we receive many more applications than we can accommodate students. Usually we cannot accept more than 12 students per year. Hence the selection process is rather competitive. 

The program offers a variety of subjects. Its underlying educational rationale is to develop independent thinking, effective work routines as an individual and as part of a team, critical thinking and the ambition to produce the best possible result in the tasks set to you.


  • Attendance of the lecture courses on offer and successful completion of practical assignments and exams.
  • Attendance of the field school and writing a field report.
  • Completion of a research project and the writing of a project report.

You should be able to

  • Identify problems and formulate questions;
  • Collect, analyse and critically evaluate data to answer questions;
  • Work effectively in teams;
  • Work effectively on your own, and organise and manage your workload and your time;
  • Communicate results effectively and succinctly, both verbally and in written form, using appropriate technology;
  • Demonstrate the origin of your ideas by appropriate application of required referencing styles
  • Appreciate the evolution of science, the need for new questions, research and answers;
  • Apply your acquired knowledge in novel situations by being creative and innovative;
  • Adopt (both academically and socially) to new situations in a high speed, modern society driven by technological, political and cultural changes.
  • Prepare for life-long learning.

Thematic courses

The following courses are typically offered:

Topics / duration:

  • Sedimentary Geology - Basin Analysis / 2 weeks
  • Hydrothermal & Sedimentary Ore-forming Environments / 2 weeks
  • Magmatic Ore-forming Processes / 2 weeks
  • Mineral Exploration Techniques / 2 weeks
  • Metamorphic Petrology
  • Field School / 5-6 weeks (incl. preparation time and report writing)
  • Research project /ca. 14 weeks

Each topic comprises lectures, seminars, assignments, practical work, and reading. At Honours level, students are expected to take greater responsibility for their own knowledge and intellectual development, and the emphasis is placed on reading and self-learning. Students are expected to complete all essential work pertaining to each course within the scheduled timetable. Late submissions will attract a penalty (typical penalties are 5% off per day late). Theory examinations are written during the University’s June and November Exam timetable periods. A two-week field course is held during the June-July “break”, followed by the production of field reports and geological maps.

Honours research project / thesis

The Honours Project is an important component of the Honours course. It involves about 10-12 weeks of formal research work time, to which additional time should be found as necessary for literature work and sample and/or data processing. It contributes nearly 30% of the final mark, and therefore requires considerable effort and thought. The project is intended to demonstrate a student’s ability to carry out a geological investigation and report on it in written and oral form. It gives the student an opportunity to:

  • perform some original research work independently;
  • evaluate and interpret data obtained during the course of field and laboratory work;
  • read the relevant literature around the subject of the project;
  • write up the results in an acceptable form (Refer to the section on “Writing a Scientific Report” in this booklet);
  • present the results of the investigation before an audience.

The subject selected for investigation should be of interest to the student and, as far as possible, be in line with the research interests of a member of staff in the Department so that there can be close cooperation and adequate supervision. Staff members may provide suitable research topics.

In some cases students who are employed by mining/exploration companies over the long 'vacation' may find it possible to utilize their work for the Honours project. They should consult with their employers about this possibility. However, projects based on vacation employment sometimes prove unsatisfactory, either because there is insufficient supervision at the fieldwork stage, or because certain proprietary information cannot be utilized.

In all cases, the project must be discussed with the staff of the Department and cleared before it is embarked upon. A supervisor will be appointed to advise and guide the student in the research direction chosen. Each student should communicate with his/her supervisor at the earliest opportunity and keep in regular contact with him/her during the investigation. Remember that it is up to you, the student, to ensure that you get the assistance you require; this is your project.

The project should entail fieldwork (normally geological mapping or careful sampling), laboratory investigation, and writing. Mapping investigations normally are well suited to the project. Detailed maps of a small area, or a structural analysis of a folded terrane, or measurement and interpretation of stratigraphic sections, are also well-suited.

In special cases, however, a laboratory project may be undertaken instead of a field project. This might involve a mineralogical or geochemical study of a suite of samples from a mine or borehole (samples should be collected by the student), or an application of the computer programme to a geological problem, etc. Nevertheless, as a general rule, the project should include some fieldwork and a map showing the geology of the area and sample localities.

Last Modified: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 11:13:47 SAST