Physical Geology

Course Details

Course Number
GEOS 1134
Fall 2014
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

Lectures - MWF at 9AM in Bolin 100

Lab Sessions scheduled various times/rooms on MTWTh in Bolin Hall.

William Scott Meddaugh (view Profile)


Earth An Introduction to Physical Geology (11th
Science Matters - Achieving Scientific Literacy
Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology (10th Editio

Course Objectives

Lab-based introductory course to Physical Geology.  Rocks, minerals, surface, and internal earth processes are covered in both lab and lecture.  Additional topics such as Plate Tectonics, the Earth's internal structure, the Age of the Earth are also covered.  selected special topics are also included including economic geology, climate change, and Earth system science.  This course is foundational to more advanced courses in geology. In addition to its obvious focus on Physical Geology, the course also stresses basic aspects of the physical and biological sciences.

Course Expectations


Course Expectations/Requirements                                                                                      


Attend lectures!  Come prepared for lectures by reading the textbook and any additional assigned readings in advance.  Use online tools for study/review.  Lectures highlight essential topics and vocabulary; textbook and online resources provide additional details as well as additional topics and review/self test opportunities.  It is in your best interest to use these resources.  Lecture and final exams will cover lecture content, textbook content, and assigned readings (plus related vocabulary).  Lecture notes will be available in D2L.  All lecture exams are cumulative; all prior material, topics, text and assigned readings will be included on exams.  Attendance will be taken periodically during lecture.  Excessive unexcused absences (more than three) may result in a student be dropped from the course.  Attendance will be recorded on an irregular, random basis throughout the semester. Plan to spend at least four hours per week on textbook or other assigned readings.                                                          


Active participation in all lab sessions is required.  Completion of all lab assignments on time is expected. Lab attendance is mandatory.  If you are going to miss a lab you must email Dr. Meddaugh and your lab instructor (TA) in advance.  You may make up a missed lab by making suitable arrangement with your lab instructor (TA) and Dr. Meddaugh.  The exact procedure for doing this will be discussed during the first lab meeting.  Labs must be made up within one week or a lab exercise completion grade penalty will be imposed (10% for one week past due; 20% for two weeks past due).  After two weeks, a missed lab may not be made up.  Any missed lab will receive a lab completion grade of zero for that specific lab.  The overall lab completion grade will be a composite average of all assigned labs, lab quizzes, your participation, and attendance.  Lab exams will focus on lab session topics, exercises, and vocabulary.  Periodic “proficiency” quizzes may be given in lab; these will help assess your mastery of the lab material (and indirectly the lecture material as well).  Some Lab Book exercises may be assigned as homework.  Excessive unexcused absences from lab (more than three) may result in a student be dropped from the course. Labs may require additional time beyond the weekly two hour lab session.  Bolin geology labs (115, 117) are generally open much of the week and evenings. 




Grading Standards



Total Lecture = 60% of final grade.   Exam 1 = 15% of final grade; Lecture Exam 2 = 20% of final grade; Final Exam = 25% of final grade.  Exams may be made up only if (1) you have a written excuse as to why you missed the exam and (2) you notified Dr. Meddaugh (and lab TA if appropriate as well; see below) in advance that you would miss the exam.  A missed exam must be made up within two weeks.  Obviously, there may be extreme circumstances as to why prior notice was not given.  These will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.   Note – oversleeping is not an acceptable reason!  All lecture exams are cumulative and may include material from the lab sections.

Total Lab grade = 35% of final grade.   Lab Exam 1 (Rock and Mineral Identification) = 10% of final grade.  Lab Final (comprehensive) = 10% of final grade.  A missed lab exam must be made up within two weeks.  As for lecture exams, prior notice to both Dr. Meddaugh and your lab TA must be given should you miss an exam.  .  Lab attendance, exercise completion, homework assignments, and quiz completion composite grade = 15% of final grade.  Important note – If you miss more than three lab sessions you will likely be dropped from the course.

Research paper - Grade = 5% of final grade.  More information of the research paper will be available during the first lab meeting.  Papers must be between 1500 and 2000 words (about 3-5 pages of text based on 11-pt or 12-pt font; word count per MSWord’s word count tool) and be no longer than ten total pages including illustrations and title page.  Papers must contain a summary of no more than 250 words (included in overall word count), at least three primary, peer-reviewed references (note that most web pages including Wikipedia are not peer-reviewed), and be structured as follows: (1) Title page with title and author; (2) Summary; (3) Introduction (background and rationale for paper topic choice); (4) Discussion (basically what you learned and want to share with your colleagues as a result of your research including why you chose the particular topic); (5) Conclusion (highlight or restatement of most important learning’s from your perspective); and (6) references including at least three peer reviewed references.  Figures and/or tables (with captions) may be included within text or at end of paper.  Format – MS Word; paper copy and electronic copy to be submitted.  Detailed format instructions will be provided during Week 2 or via D2L.  Papers will be graded on content and format.  Format is important so please follow instructions given above.  All papers must include a sentence or paragraph discussing why you chose the particular topic.  

The Research Paper is due as per the syllabus schedule.  Papers submitted up to one week late will be docked one letter grade per week (e.g. 10 points; thus a paper that would have received a 85% grade if submitted on time will receive a final grade of 75% if submitted one week late or 65% if submitted two weeks late).  Research papers may not be submitted more than two weeks late!   Papers must be submitted in printed and electronic form (MS Word).   Paper grade determined based on format compliance (up to 60% of paper grade; see previous paragraph for details) and content/logical reasoning (up to 40% of paper grade).     


Extra Credit

Limited extra credit opportunities will be available on an irregular and random basis through the first 14 weeks during the lecture portion of the course.  Each individual opportunity will be worth up to one extra credit point.  Generally, these opportunities will involve a short written response to a question or problem posed during the lecture.  (Therefore, bring paper and pen/pencil to lecture!).   Note, however, that the question posed during lecture may be based on a talk presented outside of class time by a visiting lecturer on campus or other media opportunity.  There is no makeup for extra credit!  There will be no extra credit opportunities during lab sessions.  You may earn up to 4 points of your final grade via the extra credit opportunities.  There will be six to eight total extra credit opportunities during the semester.  Each extra credit opportunity is worth a maximum of 1 point towards your final grade up to the maximum allowed of 4 total points.


Final Letter Grade Definitions

A = >90%, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 60-69% F = <60%

Final letter grades will be based on rounding composite course grade to the nearest integer. 

Final Exam

12/08/2014 8-10AM

Submission Format Policy

See Grading Standards Tab for information on research paper submission requirements.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

See Grading Standards Tab for information.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

See Grading Standards tab for additional information regarding attendence  requirements for lecture and lab.  Excessive absences from either may result in a student being dropped from the course by the instructor.  More than three laboratory session absences will likley result in a student being dropped form the course by the instructor, particularly if the absences were not reported to Dr. Meddaugh and the appropriate lab TA prior to the absences. 

Other Policies

Students are expected to fully and completely abide by the University Honor Creed.  Attendance at all Lectures and Lab Sessions is expected.  If you cannot attend a lecture please send notify Dr. Meddaugh by email.  If you cannot attend a lab session, please notify Dr. Meddaugh by email and arrange to make up a missed lab section as noted above (grade penalties may apply; see above).  Students with three or more unexcused lecture and/or lab absences may be dropped from the course.  Note - All electronic devices must be switched off (or remain unused in silent mode) during lectures and labs unless permission for their use is obtained in advance.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at