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Field Geology Mapping in Ireland


Clonbur, Shannon, Doolin, Portrush, Ireland, N. Ireland

Program Description

This is a capstone field geology course intended for geoscience majors that are near the end of their undergraduate careers. Upon completion of this course, students should be qualified to function as professional geologists or environmental scientists in respect to field data collection, map preparation, and report preparation.

Field Course in Ireland is the James Madison University Department of Geology and Environmental Science capstone course for geoscience majors. After completing the field course, you will be qualified to work for an industry, government, or academic employer who needs you to travel to an isolated field area, assess the local bedrock and surficial geology, natural resources, natural hazards, environmental conditions, etc., write a project report, draft a publishable map, compile a database, and return home safely. The main objective is for you to become confident at scientific observation and interpretation of geological problems in the field. You will learn to recognize and interpret a wide variety of rocks, structures, geomorphic, fluvial, and other hydrologic features. We will emphasize methods of mapmaking, data recording, and report preparation. Projects from one to four days’ duration will be conducted in regions where surficial deposits and igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks are well-exposed, and in aqueous environments.

The required course dates are 5/18/16-6/23/16, with an optional trip to the north Antrim coast from 6/24/16-6/27/16

Location Description

The JMU Geology Field Course is based in the Irish village of Clonbur in County Galway, western Ireland, where most of the course is housed at a government-run outdoor education center. This is approximately an hour north of the medieval walled city of Galway, a cultural center for traditional Irish music and theatre. Later in the course we stay in Doolin for a week in the karst limestone of the Burren, one of Europe's unique natural environments. An optional post-course trip through Portrush and the north Antrim coast is available for 3 days.

Participants will have time for leisure activities such as hiking, horseback riding, swimming, sailing, kayaking as well as enjoying cultural visits to Galway, Westport, Doolin, and the Aran Islands.


Eric Pyle | | Geology and Environmental Science


Accommodations will be provided through residence halls/dormitories, with several lunches or dinners provided per week. During the last week, students are accommodated in self-catered cottages.

For the first five weeks, students are provided with breakfast and lunch supplies to serve themselves. A hot dinner is provided by the host facility each evening. During the last week, students are provided with a meal allowance per cottage. Meals for the optional post-course trip are student-funded.

Additional Items to Consider

An equipment list will be provided to students upon acceptance into the program.

This program is only open to upper level geoscience / geology / Earth science majors. Taking advanced courses beyond the prerequisite courses will support students' learning.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

GEOL 110 (physical geology), GEOL 230 (evolution of Earth systems), GEOL 280 (mineralogy), GEOL 387 and 388 (stratigraphy, structure, tectonics) are REQUIRED.

Upper level geoscience / geology / Earth science majors. 

Juniors, Seniors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Faculty Recommendation
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now Closed for 2016

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GEOL 399: Field Geology (6 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.