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Course content

The course provides a basic introduction to the optical properties of crystalline matter and to the polarizing microscope for optical mineral identification. Thin section and polished section studies provide important information on the crystallographic properties and the chemical composition of the common rock-forming minerals. Furthermore, important information on rock-forming processes and stability relations of minerals can be obtained through the study of their micro-textural relation.

Topics covered include the behaviour of light in crystalline solids, the origin and nature of interference colours, refractive index, and birefringence. The course will develop the systematic use of these optical parameters in the characterisation of translucent minerals.

A systematic optical description and determination of common rock-forming silicate minerals will be presented, followed by interpretation of textures in igneous, metamorphic, metasomatic and sedimentary rocks. Laboratory work and exercises concerns techniques employed with the petrographic microscopes and the use of them in mineral identification.

Learning outcome

The course will enable you to identify the most common rock-forming minerals by means of their optical properties. According to their mineral composition and microstructures you will be able to make a better description and a closer classification of different rocks and to make out different stages in their formation. The course is principally aimed at geologists, but will be of great use for solid-state chemists and material scientists in general working with solid-state analyses on a microscopic scale.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The following courses must be taken before the first lecture in GEO4810:

For students taking GEO4810 Autumn 2015 or later, to have GEO4810 included in your degree you must first pass the following HSE courses:

For further information se website for transitional arrangements between old and new HSE courses.

Recommended previous knowledge

Overlapping courses

8 credits overlap with G 221 – Optical mineralogy


This course will be held as an intensive course. The course consists of lectures and compulsory exercises.

Attendance at the first lecture is compulsory. Students who fail to meet, are considered to have withdrawn from the course unless they have previously given notice to the Studies administration, email address:

To attend the course it is required that the following course is taken before the first lecture:

You will need to provide documentation that you have passed HMS0505 when you attend the first lecture.


1 graded, written mid-term test (2 hrs.) (weighting: 50%) 1 graded, written final exam (3 hrs.) (weighting: 50%) at the end of the course. No remedies allowed.

Language of examination

In this course any written exam questions or assignment questions may be available in English only.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language