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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: ERSC204 Course ID: 4741 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

Earth System History explores the amazing history of our planet. Many astonishing events of the geologic past, and the science behind how they came to be understood are examined. The Earth and its inhabitants have undergone continuous change during the last 4.56 billion years. These changes are investigated using an integrated approach that considers the inter- relationships between the solid Earth, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Thus, students learn how our planet became a place where life began and continued to flourish; how change has dominated Earth history; and how continuing changes to Earth’s subsystems may challenge us in the future.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 10/31/21 Summer 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

At the conclusion of this course, the student will be able to:

CO-1 Describe the methods used in reconstructing Earth history and the important contributions of early geologists.
CO-2 Compare and contrast absolute and relative methods for dating rocks.
CO-3 Describe the immensity of time represented by the geologic time scale and how it was constructed.
CO-4 Explain the nature and origin of Earth materials.
CO-5 Explain how rocks and fossils reveal events of the geologic past.
CO-6 Recall major events in the history of the planet, from formation of the solar system to the present.
CO-7 Relate how past Earth system changes affected the evolution and history of life.
CO-8 Recognize the complexity of Earth’s natural systems and how changes affect organisms.


Participation is mandatory and will count towards the course grade. (First Discussion Question (Introduction) must be at least 250 words long. Your response must be submitted before the end of the first week, it is our way of confirming your attendance in the course. See instructions in classroom.) You are expected to provide a substantial and well-written comment in each session and a similar comment or reflection in reply to at least two other students’ contribution. Statements such as “I agree” or “good post” will not count as a reply.

The quizzes are on-line, open-book, and timed. They may include multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short essay type questions. They are due by the end of each week. You are not to collaborate on quizzes – all work must be your own.

Final Exam
The Final Exam will be comprehensive and cover weeks 1-8. The exam is on-line, open-book, and timed. It may include multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short essay type questions. You are not to collaborate on the Final Exam – all work must be your own.

Research Project:
Students will prepare and present an online presentation on a research topic of their choice (approved by the instructor), which is related to the course content. The presentation will be done using either PowerPoint or Prezi, and a video of the presentation including voice narration will be made using the Kaltura system. This exercise is designed to have each student conduct research, assess and summarize his or her research findings, and present these findings online with voice narrated slides. This will be just like writing a research paper, except that the research findings will be presented in outline form in PowerPoint or Prezi with voice narration, rather than as a research paper. Just like a research paper, your presentation should include slides that contain a title, introduction to the topic, main body, summary and conclusions, and bibliography. Creative use of properly cited graphics and photos that are relevant to your topic is required. The exercise has three primary purposes: 1) to show you are very familiar with the topic, 2) to become familiar with PowerPoint or Prezi software, and 3) to express your knowledge in an oral presentation format - efficient and understandable, captivating for your audience. Please check the assignment instructions for the details on the research project.

Goals of this project include encouraging development of research skills, familiarization with presentation of academic material, and practice in communicating research to an “audience”. The grading rubric is posted in the classroom.

Please see the student handbook to reference the University’s grading scale.

NameGrade %
Forums 16.00 %
Forum #1 2.00 %
Forum #2 2.00 %
Forum #3 2.00 %
Forum #4 2.00 %
Forum #5 2.00 %
Forum #6 2.00 %
Forum #7 2.00 %
Forum #8 2.00 %
Quizzes 56.00 %
Quiz 1 8.00 %
Quiz 2 8.00 %
Quiz 3 8.00 %
Quiz 4 8.00 %
Quiz 5 8.00 %
Quiz 6 8.00 %
Quiz 7 8.00 %
Research Project 10.00 %
PowerPoint Presentation 10.00 %
Final Exam 18.00 %
Final Exam 18.00 %

Required Technology

  • See the Technology Requirements section of the undergraduate catalog for the minimum hardware and software requirements.
  • Microsoft Office 365 is available to APUS students for free. To sign up, visit If you have questions about accessing the software, please contact Classroom support at
Book Title:The Earth Through Time, 10th ed. - the VitalSource e-book is provided inside the classroom; hard copy not available from the APUS Bookstore, please try other sources.
Publication Info:VS-Wiley
Unit Cost:$121.17
Electronic ISBN:9781118838846
Electronic Unit Cost:$30.00

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.