GEOG1055 Environmental Change: Past and Future

Reading List
  • Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View timetable
  • Credits: 20
  • Class Size: 100
  • Module Manager: Dr Paul Morris
  • Email:
  • Pre-Requisite Qualifications: none
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces existing level 1 content

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

Living with environmental change is one of the key challenges for humanity in the 21st century. This module puts the subject into context. It begins by explaining how the climate system has changed in the past and what the consequences have been for plants, animals - and for our own species.
Our focus is on the Ice Ages, when colossal ice sheets waxed and waned; at some times mammoths roamed the tundra of Yorkshire, while at others hippos bathed in the water of the Thames.
The module then goes on to unpick the workings of the modern climate system, and to explain how it is changing and might continue to change in the future.
Throughout, the module uses a mixture of lectures, fieldwork, labwork, group projects and case studies to bring this fascinating subject to life.


  • - To introduce students to the history of environmental change and to the mechanisms underpinning current changes to the climate system
  • - To allow students to develop skills in fieldwork, labwork, data analysis, report writing, and giving presentations.


Module content may include:

  • - Climate during the Ice Ages
  • - Landforms of the Ice Ages
  • - The changing biosphere
  • - Human evolution
  • - Human impacts on past environments
  • - The Quaternary history of Britain
  • - Present and future climate
  • - ENSO
  • - Monsoons and NAO
  • - The future climate of Britain.

Learning Outcomes

  • - A wide understanding of Quaternary environmental change
  • - Detailed knowledge of the history of change in particular regions
  • - Experience of key field techniques such as sediment coring and description
  • - Experience of analysing Quaternary deposits in the laboratory, using a range of techniques
  • - An understanding of how such data can be analysed
  • - Experience of using basic meteorological equipment in the field, and analysing the data produced
  • - An understanding of the principles governing the behaviour of the climate system
  • - An understanding of the modes of climatic change that are presently affecting the Earth.

Skills Outcomes

  • - Fieldwork skills: coring, sediment description, use of meteorological equipment.
  • - Lab skills: microscope work/testate amoeba analysis, AAS, humification, sediment description.
  • - Data analysis: statistics, including transfer functions in environmental reconstruction.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Report Individual practical report - 1,600 words 45
Oral Presentation Urban heat island group presentation - 15 mins 25
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 70


Exam type Exam duration % of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) 1 hr 30 mins 30
Total Percentage (Assesment Exams) 30

Private Study

Lectures and practicals will be accompanied by reading lists (textbooks and journal articles), with an expectation of around two hours reading in support of each lecture.
Further private study time will be spent in preparing coursework and revising for the exam, and in preparing group presentations.

Progress Monitoring

  • - Coursework will provide formal opportunities for feedback between staff and students - although this is all group work.
  • - there is a formative test in the palaeoenvironmental section of the module in semester 1 to assess teaching quality and student learning in this early part of the module.
  • - We will also use the VLE to provide individual feedback, with online (non-assessed) MCQ tests twice per semester, and similar tests used to provide feedback on lab and computer practicals.
  • - This will allow students to get individual feedback and also allow us to monitor the engagement of individual students with the module.
  • - Students will also work together to give (peer-assessed) group presentations about the history of environmental change.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Laboratory 3 2 6
Computer Class 3 2 6
Fieldwork 1 8 8
Lecture 31 1 31
Seminar 1 2 2
Private Study Hours 140
Independant Online Learning Hours 7
Total Contact Hours 53
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
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