GLGY 337

GLGY 337 is an introductory geological field methods course (worth 1 HCE) that takes place off-campus for 16 days, normally in August/September prior to the start of the fall semester. There are usually several sections to choose from; each one has one professor, one graduate teaching assistant and room for about 16 undergraduate students. Additional faculty and staff may join your class on occasion. You will be working in groups of two to four depending on the exercise of the day and for safety purposes. The department provides transportation for all field school participants - you are not allowed to use personal transportation.

It is very important that you are on time each day, and that you are rested and prepared for a full day of fieldwork. If you sleep in, you will be left behind. You must bring food each day, as most localities are not near convenience stores or restaurants. It is recommended that you bring extra munchies in case the day’s activities run late. Bring appropriate clothing and lots to drink. Field localities and activities may change due to circumstances beyond the instructor’s control; dates will not change. All field activities and most assignments are completed within the published field school dates; however, some instructors may allow up to one week of additional time after the field course to complete the drafting or written component of certain exercises.

The learning objectives for GLGY 337 include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Field survival and safety
  • Orienteering and using a compass or GPS unit for location and positioning purposes
  • Reading topographic maps and air photos
  • Collecting geological field data (including strike/dip, trend/plunge, distance/thickness measurements, etc.)
  • Creating and interpreting geologic maps and cross sections
  • Reconciling the regional tectonic framework of the field area
  • Report writing

All sections GLGY 337 have the same itinerary, as they all go to the same three locations and do the same exercises.

Click here to see the list of sections planned for GLGY 337 in the upcoming/current academic year.

The link above provides tentative information about dates, instructors, locations and costs for each section of GLGY 337. Final details will be provided to students via email, D2L or on the first day of the field course.

If you have already registered in GLGY 337 and are unsure of your section, check D2L or contact the undergraduate advisor in the Department of Geoscience.

GLGY 337 is a required course for majors in the programs indicated.


  • GLGY 333 or 311
  • GLGY 343 or 341
  • GLGY 381
  • Admission to programs in geology or geophysics, applied and environmental geology, environmental science (geology concentration), or natural sciences (geoscience concentration)
  • Consent of the department

GLGY 337 should be taken after second year, just prior to the start of third year. Students find that taking the first field school after they have taken the required 300-level courses is most beneficial. Students are strongly discouraged from waiting until after third year to take this course as this would limit the effectiveness of the field learning experience, and disallow additional, upper-level field course options.

See enrolment services website. Note the section you are interested in and provide your most up-to-date contact information (in case a spot opens up at the last minute). Typically, registration in this field course is not carried out online. Contact the undergraduate coordinator Rofina Groebmair ( to register.

Because field schools take place off campus and provide students with real-world learning experiences, they are more expensive than standard courses (for both the department and students). It’s a good idea to start saving money for field courses at the start of your university career.

The student costs associated with taking GLGY 337 include:

  • Regular tuition and fees (approximately $600) associated with one half course (payable to the registrar)
  • A supplemental fee of about $1000 to cover your accommodation and transportation costs for 16 days (payable to the registrar) - see D2L for a detailed breakdown of costs
  • Please see our current course listings for details
  • A field school kit containing a pair of safety glasses, field notebook, a small dilute acid bottle and safety whistle is also included in your supplemental fees
  • Food - highly variable but plan on spending approximately $40 per day (breakfast is included in accommodation fees for most hotels)
  • Textbook (required; “Geological Field Techniques” by Angela L. Coe, Wiley-Blackwell 2010; available in the UCalgary bookstore)
  • Other equipment and supplies (see list below)
  • Other field-related costs (including admission to parks and local attractions)

Unless otherwise noted by your instructor, the following items are essential and must be brought every day:


  • Picture ID (such as a driver’s license), student ID and health card
  • Backpack of the large day pack type (25–30 litres)
  • Field or hiking boots (must be close-toed and high-top; steel-toed boots not recommended)
  • Outdoor clothing for cold, warm, hot or wet weather (rain jacket and rain pants, gloves, toque, sweater, extra socks, etc.)
  • Hat, preferably with an all-around brim
  • Water bottle, canteen, or thermos; two litres of water daily (absolute minimum)
  • Lunch and snacks (there are places to buy groceries during the evenings)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal items (toilet paper, tissues, etc.)
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Any medications that might be essential (i.e. EpiPen, inhaler, etc.)
  • Insect repellent
  • Pen knife/multi-tool
  • A couple of good plastic bags and a large Ziploc bag to store your clipboard in should it rain
  • Snug-fitting leather work gloves or gardening gloves (optional, but useful)
  • Watch or other time-keeping device
  • Cash to meet your needs for the day
  • Laptop, tablet, or similar electronic gadget to enable the writing of short reports (you will not bring this into the field with you each day, but will need it to complete nightly homework)


  • Geological hammer, belt and belt loop or cradle to carry the hammer
  • Hand lens, at least 10x (available at UCalgary bookstore)
  • Grain size comparator card
  • Clipboard or sheet holder for at least a 8½ x 11” base map
  • Protractor; preferably a square navigational protractor (available at UCalgary bookstore.)
  • Rulers in centimetres and inches (ideally made out of clear plastic)
  • 2H or 4H pencils (mechanical is fine) for mapping (bring a few-you will probably lose at least one)
  • HB pencils
  • Fine-tipped felt pens
  • Pencil crayons (ideally erasable); six or more colours
  • Pencil eraser and sharpener
  • Permanent marker to label any samples that you take
  • Graph paper
  • Pocket calculator
  • Stapler or paper clips and a few binder clips
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Camera (almost essential)
  • Textbook (every student should bring their own into the field every day!)
  • Field notebook, safety goggles, small 10% HCL bottle, whistle (kit supplied to students on day one)
  • Compass (supplied by department and signed out to students on day one)

 Do not bring

  • Guests or pets
  • Your own vehicle
  • A picnic cooler
  • Your bike, skateboard or roller blades
  • Chisels
  • Flares or fireworks of any size, shape or colour
  • Bear spray or pepper spray
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Recreational/illegal pharmaceuticals
  • Firearms or weapons of any kind

Geologic hammer

There are two basic types of geologic hammer, pointed tip and chisel tip. Pointed tip hammers are thought to be more useful for crystalline or granular rocks, while chisel tip hammers are considered more useful for laminated or foliated rocks. Either is fine; it’s your choice. While the Department of Geoscience does not endorse any one product or vendor, you might want to consider one of these Estwing brand hammers:

  • E3-20PC: 20 oz, chisel tip opposite hammer, polished finish, nylon vinyl grip (standard weight and the favourite)
  • E3-24PC: 24 oz, chisel tip opposite hammer, polished finish, nylon vinyl grip (heavier weight, next favourite)
  • E3-22P: 22 oz, pointed tip opposite hammer, polished finish, nylon vinyl grip (standard weight)
  • B3-22P: 22 oz, pointed tip opposite hammer, painted finish, nylon vinyl grip (standard weight)

Unless you are prepared to care for it, do not buy a leather handled hammer. The leather cracks and falls off if you do not wax is regularly. It is a nice tool, but not recommended in our dry climate. The hammers listed above all have steel handles with pliable nylon vinyl grips. Wooden handles are available, but are about the same price. The wool also tends to dry out and split after a few years.

You can buy geological hammers in Calgary, at better hardware stores and certain lapidary shops (i.e. House of Tools, Sears, Green’s Rock and Lapidary, Ribtor, etc.) You may also want to special order from either or Both of these Canadian companies carry Estwing hammers. If you bring an Estwing hammer to field school be sure to put your name on it. There are other manufacturers of rock hammers and you are welcome to choose. The hammer must be designed for rock or masonry, not metals or wood.

One of the first things you need to do is ensure that you are officially enrolled in a field school. Be sure to consult an academic advisor if you are unsure of which field school(s) you need and if you have the appropriate prerequisites. Once you are registered, make sure that you read through all of the information posted - be aware of all policies, procedures, deadlines and dates. Each section of field school also has a D2L website – once you are registered and the site is updated, you will be given access to it. Your instructor will use D2L and/or email to communicate important messages to you. Ensure that you update your email address in the system to the one that is most reliable and used most often. If you have a summer job, make sure that you speak with your employer to adjust your start/end date and get the necessary time off for field school.

Start saving up for field school as soon as you are registered. Geology field schools require that you pay for accommodation and transportation when you pay tuition. Tuition and fees associated with a field course are due by the fee deadline for the semester the course is in. If you need to buy a brand new pair of hiking boots, you should plan to do so in time to be able to wear them in. To be mentally prepared for field school, you should buy the textbook at least one month in advance so that you can read it over. Start collecting your equipment and supplies well in advance.

Field school is a unique experience that can be mentally and physically challenging. Some students find that preparing the mind and body for working outdoors, in rugged terrains and all weather conditions is essential, especially if you don’t usually spend much time outdoors. Try exploring Calgary’s parks and walking trails over the summer months. Talk a walk in the rain to test your rain gear. Practice hiking across rugged terrain in the mountains, being sure to choose trails with at least 600–800 metre elevation gain. If your section will be camping, and you’ve never camped before, spend a weekend or a few days sleeping on the ground in a tent and cooking over a fire or gas stove. Read about the flora and fauna commonly found in your field school destination. Talk to your fellow students that have already taken a field school for hints and tips on how to make your field school experience the best possible.

If your instructor hasn’t contacted you by at least two weeks prior to the start of your field school, contact them to ensure that it is still going on as planned. If it is, there’s not much left to do except attend the orientation and safety meeting, receive your field school kit, meet your instructor, teaching assistant and fellow students, begin your adventure, work hard, and have fun!

Every geoscience field course begins with a mandatory orientation and safety meeting in the morning of the first day. If you do not attend this meeting, you will not be allowed to attend the rest of the field school.

Click here to see the orientation and safety meeting schedule for the upcoming/current academic year.

The orientation and safety meeting is designed to deliver critical information to you to ensure that you are well prepared for field school. At this meeting, you will:

  • Meet your instructor and teaching assistant
  • Learn about general safety issues and the hazards in each field locality
  • Review the emergency response plan
  • Sign an informed consent form and provide your emergency contact information
  • Learn about the general course structure and activities planned
  • Purchase and sign out equipment

After the orientation and safety meeting, each section of field school splits off into separate rooms to continue the orientation with each specific instructor and TA. At this time, you will review the itinerary for your section of field school and receive any additional instructions. If you are asked to act as a back-up driver, there will be further instructions on driving etiquette and the university's driver authorization procedure.

The first day of GLGY 337 field school is often a full day – bring a lunch and sufficient water/drinks. It is quite possible that your section may begin with some on campus exercises on day one. Come prepared with the necessary office supplies. It is also possible that you will spend part of the day in the field, so you may need some or all of your field equipment. Your instructor will provide you with details about what you should expect on day one prior to the start of your field school session.

If you are unsure about some of the equipment you purchased, it’s a good idea to bring your backpack filled with your supplies on day one. Your instructor can go over it with you and give you advice on what you will need and what you might not need; or what will work and what won’t.