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.


  1. determining the age of Earth
  2. geologic concepts
  3. Earth's layers
  4. plate tectonics
  5. seismic tomography
  6. conduction, convection, radiation
  7. plate boundaries: divergent, convergent, conservative
  8. the Big Bang and the formation of Earth and the solar system
  9. the rock cycle
  10. minerals
  11. magma and crystallization
  12. volcanoes: formation, types
  13. rock deformation
  14. earthquakes and faults; seismic waves
  15. movement of continents (drift)
  16. oceanic trenches, mid-ocean ridges, fracture zones
  1. process of ocean formation
  2. transform faults
  3. formation of mountains
  4. intraplate volcanoes and hot spots
  5. effects of volcanoes and earthquakes
  6. the hydrologic cycle
  7. Earth's atmosphere; layers
  8. erosion
  9. climate zones
  10. streams and groundwater
  11. shorelines
  12. glaciers
  13. climate change: long-term and short-term
  14. natural resources
  15. nonrenewable and renewable energy sources
  16. human interaction with Earth
  17. 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.)

Videos (streamed for you within the course)

  1. How the Earth Works (The Great Courses Series), by Dr. Michael E. Wysession, Washington University. 42 half-hour videos.

NOTE:  Each video is accompanied by a video transcript.


General Earth Science is a three-credit online course consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1:  Earth's Structure and Formation
    Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 2

  1. Module 2: Earth's Materials and Forces
    Course objectives covered in this module: 3, 4, 5, 6
  2. Module 3: The Oceans
    Course objectives covered in this module: 3, 7

  1. Module 4: Changes in the Earth
    Course objectives covered in this module: 3, 8
  2. Module 5: The Hydrologic Cycle and Water on Earth
    Course objectives covered in this module: 9, 10, 11
  3. Module 6: Human Interaction with the Earth; the Solar System
    Course objectives covered in this module: 3, 12, 13


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 College'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 (6) 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 (6) 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 College'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 (20) multiple-choice question and four (4) 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 (20) multiple-choice question and four (4) essay questions.

Statement about Cheating

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

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find the answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your online test. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take the exam
  5. Copying any part of the exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at the exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

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:

  1. Online discussions (6)15 percent
  2. Written assignments (6)45 percent
  3. Midterm exam—20 percent
  4. Final exam20 percent

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 nonarea of study course), 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:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.
  2. Take time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.
  3. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.
  2. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.
  2. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College 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 outlines 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.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College 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 College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or the College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. 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, 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 the 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.

Thomas Edison State College. All Rights Reserved.