Syllabus for EAS-101



In General Earth Science students discover what Earth is made of, what its history has been, and "how it works." The course explains what went into making our planet as well as how it has changed and transformed in the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang. Students will be introduced to Earth's structure, the elements that make it up, and such by-products of the planet's ceaseless activity as earthquakes and volcanoes. The course also covers Earth's oceans as well as its atmosphere and climate. Course content is drawn from the Teaching Company's course How the Earth Works presented by Dr. Michael E. Wysession.


  • determining the age of Earth
  • geologic concepts
  • Earth's layers
  • plate tectonics
  • seismic tomography
  • conduction, convection, radiation
  • plate boundaries: divergent, convergent, conservative
  • the Big Bang and the formation of Earth and the solar system
  • the rock cycle
  • minerals
  • magma and crystallization
  • volcanoes: formation, types
  • rock deformation
  • earthquakes and faults; seismic waves
  • movement of continents (drift)
  • oceanic trenches, mid-ocean ridges, fracture zones
  • process of ocean formation
  • transform faults
  • formation of mountains
  • intraplate volcanoes and hot spots
  • effects of volcanoes and earthquakes
  • the hydrologic cycle
  • Earth's atmosphere; layers
  • erosion
  • climate zones
  • streams and groundwater
  • shorelines
  • glaciers
  • climate change: long-term and short-term
  • natural resources
  • nonrenewable and renewable energy sources
  • human interaction with Earth
  • the solar system


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the age of Earth and methods used to decipher Earth history.
  2. Discuss the basic structure of Earth's interior and how different layers are identified using seismic waves.
  3. Explain plate tectonics and its importance to Earth's history and features.
  4. Describe the materials of Earth (rocks, minerals, magma) and how they are formed.
  5. Describe types of volcanoes and how they form.
  6. Explain why earthquakes happen and how they are measured.
  7. Describe major seafloor features.
  8. Explain the processes that form mountains.
  9. Describe the hydrologic cycle and the major ocean current systems and their impact on climate.
  10. Explain the structure and composition of the atmosphere and atmospheric characteristics such as precipitation and temperature.
  11. Discuss regional and global weather patterns and the formation of weather phenomena.
  12. Describe the classification of climates and discuss human influence upon and natural variation in climate patterns.
  13. Explain the characteristics of our solar system.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. (There is no textbook for this course.)

Video Programs

The video programs are being offered via streaming video technology through the course Web site. See the Video Playlist in the top section of the course space. Note: Each video is accompanied by a video transcript.


General Earth Science is a three-credit online course consisting of six modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and take both a midterm and a final exam. See below for details.

For both the midterm and the final you are required to use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

You are required to participate in six graded discussion forums as well as an ungraded Introductions Forum. The online discussions are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules. Your course space contains a rubric that will aid in the grading of online discussions.

For posting guidelines and help with discussion forums, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete six written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules.Your course space contains a rubric that will aid in the grading of the written assignments.

For help regarding preparing and submitting assignment assignments, see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.


You are required to take two closed-book, proctored examinations: a midterm and a final. For both exams, you are required to use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures.

Exams are administered through the course Web site. Consult the course Calendar for the official dates of your midterm exam week.

Midterm Examination

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material assigned in Modules 1–4 of the course. The exam consists of twenty multiple-choice question and four essay questions.

Final Examination

The final is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material assigned in modules 5–6 of the course. The exam consists of twenty multiple-choice question and four essay questions.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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