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Departments & Programs


Undergrad Courses

Courses in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences cover a broad range of topics, from earth surface processes to the marine environment to earth materials and earth history. Stanford's location near the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, the Sierra Nevada, and the San Andreas fault provides an excellent opportunity for field studies, and many courses in GES take advantage of that opportunity.

Visit to view all of the courses available in GES.

Here are a few of the courses available in GES:

Where to start: courses with no prerequisites

The following courses have no prerequisites and are a great way to get started in GES:

GES 1A, B, and C Introduction to Geology (Aut, Win, Spr) 4 units
Topics include processes that shape the earth's landforms, produce the minerals and rocks that comprise the earth, create soils, deform the earth's crust, and move continents; surficial processes involving wind, water, and ice; global circulation in the atmosphere and ocean and global climate; geologic hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes; and non-renewable resources. Includes hands-on labs and several field trips.
NOTE: You may only take one of GES A, B, or C for credit. 

GES 4 Evolution and Extinction: Introduction to Historical Geology (Win) 4 units
An overview of how the universe evolved from the creation of the elements to the origin of humans. Includes the origin of the universe, our solar system, and Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and continents, the origin and evolution of life, and future scenarios for earth. 

GES 5 Living on the Edge (Aut) 1 unit
A weekend field trip along the Pacific Coast. Tour local beaches, geology, and landforms with expert guides from GES. Enjoy a BBQ dinner and stay overnight in cabins along the Santa Cruz coast.  Get to know faculty and graduate students in the Earth Sciences.  Requirements: Two campus meeting and weekend field trip to Pacific Coast.  Freshman have first choice.

GES 20-60 Introductory Seminars in GES Units Vary
Visit the Introductory Seminars website
to find out more about seminars available in GES throughout the year.

GES 191 Field trips in GES (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)1 unit
Several times throughout the year, faculty lead multi-day field trips for which students can receive credit. For more information about current field trip opportunities, see the GES 191/291 page.