Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit introduces the key analytical techniques for the characterisation of rocks, minerals and other geoscience-related materials. The unit focuses on electron microscopy and microanalysis, X-ray techniques and mass spectrometry, based around the state-of-the-art instrumentation available within Western Australia. Content includes theoretical principles and application of the techniques, with an emphasis on data acquisition, processing and analysis. Students gain insight into how these technologies are used for geoscience applications.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) explain the capabilities of key characterisation techniques used by geoscience researchers; (2) show these techniques can be used to characterise the structure and composition of rocks, minerals and other geoscience-related materials; (3) demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles of electron, x-ray, and mass spectrometry analysis techniques; (4) analyse and interpret data from these techniques; and (5) critically assess and evaluate real-world data, and draw appropriate conclusions from these.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) consultancy report; (2) consultancy report; and (3) scientific paper. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Matt Kilburn
Unit rules
Bachelor of Science in Geoscience (or equivalent)
Advisable prior study
completed unit in Mineralogy (or equivalent)
Contact hours
lectures/tutorials: 8 hours per week (2 x 4-hour blocks)
reading/online tutorials/assignments/assessments (non-contact): 16 hours per week (for 6 weeks starting week 8 and ending week 13)
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.