Course content

Earth’s surface features both horizontal and vertical motions such as those associated with plate tectonics and rebound of the crust. Several geological processes can be studied and understood within the context of these motions, which are surface expressions of viscous convection of Earth’s mantle. The course aims at presenting the ways in which the dynamics of both lithosphere and mantle operate. It starts with a review of the evidence of plate tectonics, and continues with a review of the constitutive equations of Earth’s mantle viscous convection and how important first-order features of the lithosphere can be drawn from simple handling of these equations. The course ends with a focus on the forces driving and resisting plate motions, and their relative importance.


MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience

Learning outcome




  • Evidence and description of Earth’s surface motions
  • Constitutive equations of viscous convection and their application
  • Dynamic and energy balance within Earth’s mantle/plates system
  • Evidence and description of glacial rebound phenomena
  • Balance of forces driving and resisting plate motions



  • Handling and deriving quantitative predictions, as well as understanding real data sets, in the context of the Knowledge topics.



  • Understanding important quantitative aspects of the dynamics of the coupled mantle/plates system
  • Linking observations of lithospheric motions to the geophysical framework of the mantle/plates dynamics



The form of teaching is lectures and exercises delivered to students, combined with substantial discussion in class. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

See Absalon

It is recommended that students have acquired skills corresponding to the compulsory courses of the BSc geology-geoscience or the geophysics-meteorology programs.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Continuous feedback is provided to students during the course. This is based primarely on the exercise sessions, and is done in the form of a collective feedback to the group of students during class time, as well as individual feedback during meetings for questions.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutter
Oral examination. The exam starts with the student drawing a topic for a question, and follows with questions based on the class lectures and the reading list.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • English
  • 206