TEACHER: Dear friends! Let me introduce Professor John Morton from Newcastle University. Professor Morton has kindly agreed to answer your questions about training geologists in Great Britain and about geology as a science.
QUESTION: Will you kindly say a few words about the importance of geology as a science? Thank you.
ANSWER: Yes, of course. First of all, geology is a practical science. It studies the Earth, its structure, composition and its evolution. It is a science in which the study of presentday processes plays a key role in understanding the evolutionary history of the Earth. At the same time the geological past helps understand modern processes and predict future trends. This is of increasing importance as we become more aware 6f environmental problems.
QUESTION: You have mentioned environment. Does it concern geology too?
ANSWER: Certainly. Environmental geology focuses on geology as it relates to human activity, environmental hazards and changes resulting from natural geological processes.
QUESTION: What do you think about the role of mining geology in the modern world?
ANSWER: I'll try to be short. Mining geology plays an essential role in two major fields. First, there is the engineering task of extracting the valuable content of a mineral deposit (the ore) economically, efficiently and safely and with minimum disturbance to the environment. Second, since every ore deposit has a limited life, the future of the industry depends on prospecting and exploration to discover and evaluate new deposits, to replace dying mines and to meet increasing demands.
QUESTION: How long do students study geology in Great Britain?
ANSWER: I think, it depends on the university but mostly the course lasts 3 years, full-time, or 4 years if combined with a language subject (part time study is also possible).
As a rule, each academic year is divided into two semesters (terms). Assessment takes place at the end of each semester in the form of examinations and coursework. Traditionally, field studies have been one of the main problems of geology courses. The first-year programme provides basic geology, basic surveying, mathematics, statistics, observational and computing skills.
QUESTION: I'd like to know how the study process is organized in British universities. Thank you.
ANSWER: Well, formal teaching is by way of lectures, laboratory practicals, field excursions, personal studies. All the students have a personal tutor who advises on progress through the course, choice of modules and other matters.
QUESTION: I've heard about the modular system. Can you tell us what it is like?
ANSWER: I'll try. At British universities, students' course is designed on a modular basis. Modules are self-contained units of study, which are taught and assessed independently of each other. When a student passes a module, he (she) gains a credit. At the end of the term, the numbers of credits he (she) gains, determines the award you receive. Each module is continuously assessed by coursework and/or end-of-term examination.
QUESTION: I wonder if you pay much attention to computing.
ANSWER: Well, British Universities have Computing Centres which offer a service based on a number of workstations and microcomputers. Access to computers is taken for granted by today's students.
QUESTION: My question concerns the languages, I mean foreign languages. Are geology students offered courses in foreign languages?
ANSWER: They are. Geology is usually taken in combination with one of the following: Classical Studies, German, French, Latin or Russian, etc. Besides, there are special language laboratories which are available for open access use by students. All international students who wish to attain greater fluency in English are offered the courses which provide for the systematic
development of the linguistic skills of students. Television programmes, either by direct transmission or by video recorder, can be used for formal classes or for private study in French, German, Russian, Latin, English as a foreign language, Spanish, Japanese as well as other languages.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a few words about students' life at British Universities?
ANSWER: Well, you have probably heard of Students' Unions looking after students' health and welfare. The university health service provides medical care for all the members of the university. The Students' Union is fully responsible for its members' needs which are controlled and run exclusively by students. I want to tell you one thing which can interest you. If you are a home student you may be entitled to apply for a Student Loan from the Student Loan Company. The loan may be taken out annually over the period of study and you will be expected to begin repayment on completion of the course provided you have obtained employment.
QUESTION: You've mentioned employment. In what areas can the graduates find a job?
ANSWER: Mainly in areas such as exploration, oil field services, geological mapping and mining, engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, environmental geology and hydrology and others.
QUESTION: What about sports and leisure?
ANSWER: I must say that most British Universities are famous for their football teams and rugby and cricket unions. There are Water Sports Centres with international rowing and canoeing facilities. Good facilities are provided for indoor and outdoor sports (hockey, cricket, table tennis, dance, aerobics, keep-fit, volleyball, basketball, etc.).
TEACHER: Thank you so much, Professor Morton. It looks like our time is up.
PROFESSOR It was a pleasure to meet you all. I wish you success MORTON: in your study of geology.