Teaching resources


We are currently preparing teaching materials, including a series of exercises to help you learn how the polarising microscope works and to identify minerals and rocks under the microscope. The materials are part of a Level 2 Open University module on geology and they will be posted on the OpenLearn website in the next few months. The materials will include:

  • minerals in the crystalline state, states of matter, physical properties of minerals in hand specimen, the atomic structure of crystals, crystal defects and twinning, and crystal symmetry and shape 
  • minerals and the microscope including: the nature of light, minerals and polarised light, minerals and the polarising microscope.

We will be including activities that use the virtual microscope – helping you to learn the characteristics of minerals and rocks in thin section. 

Further reading

Guide to Thin Section Microscopy by Raith, Raase and Reinhardt (2012) is a complete and detailed guide to the study of minerals and rocks using a polarising microscope. It is freely available on the Mineralogical Society of America website.