Earth System Science: Our Changing Planet

Module titleEarth System Science: Our Changing Planet
Module codeGEO1213
Academic year2019/0
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Angela Gallego-Sala (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

11

Number students taking module (anticipated)

220

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will provide you with an introductory understanding of the processes operating within the contemporary Earth System, and how these change in time. The module examines the geosphere, ocean and atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere, and how these systems have been, and may continue to be, influenced by human and naturally-induced environmental changes. The major components of the Earth System will be brought together in the context of contemporary climate change.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide you with an introductory understanding of processes operating within the geosphere, oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere, and how these processes have been, and continue to be, influenced by human and naturally-induced environmental changes. Earth System Science: Our Changing Planet aims to provide you with much of the background understanding required for a degree in Physical Geography.

This module will contribute to the development of your understanding of how core skills contribute and relate to employability potential, specifically through the application of critical analytical skills to a range of contemporary global challenges.

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on the terrestrial carbon cycle and the biosphere (Gallego-Sala), river erosion and the geosphere (Aalto) the cryosphere (Barrows) and ocean modelling and climate (Halloran). Moreover, you are encouraged to undertake enquiry-led learning, specifically through the reading of research articles as well as lecture material.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss the fundamental processes operating within the geosphere, oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere
  • 2. Describe the relationships between environmental change and earth system responses
  • 3. Identify points of interference between earth systems and human activities
  • 4. Utilise both qualitative and quantitative approaches in understanding earth systems science

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Recognise and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding
  • 6. Analyse and synthesise information and recognise relevance
  • 7. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument
  • 8. Recognise the difference between synthesised textbook knowledge and primary knowledge derived from research journals
  • 9. Differentiate between conceptual and empirical knowledge

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Interpret qualitative and quantitative information
  • 11. Carry out simply quantitative calculations using appropriate formulae
  • 12. Undertake independent study using appropriate literature

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module comprises a 1-hour introductory lecture followed by four sections covering Biosphere, Geosphere, Cryosphere and Ocean/Climate each comprising eight 1-hour lectures. Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics::

  • Climate science basics
  • The biosphere, overarching concepts
  • Biodiversity, the diversity of life on Earth
  • Biogeography, the spatial distribution of the biosphere
  • Biogeochemistry, biospheric cycles Ocean circulation
  • Shaping of Earth’s crust by plate tectonics
  • Introduction to fluvial and arid processes
  • Climate-landscape interactions
  • The dynamics of the cryosphere
  • Ice/climate interactions
  • Ice/ocean interactions  
  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Future climate changes

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
331170

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Lectures (33 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study40Reviewing web-based material located on ELE
Guided Independent Study77Reading and preparation for examinations

Assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Sample examination questions set and discussed during lectures4 hoursAllDiscussion during lecture

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
01000

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination10090 minutesAllWritten

Re-assessment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Resources

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Holden, J. (ed.) Physical Geography and the Environment
  • Smithson, P. Addison, K. and Atkinson, K. Fundamentals of the Physical Environment
  • Vallis, G. Climate and the Ocean
  • Benn, D. and Evans, D.J.A Glaciers and Glaciation
  • Smil, V. The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics and Change. The MIT Press

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Earth system science, climate science, geosphere, oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere, biogeochemical cycle, landscape, geomorphology, climate impacts

Credit value15
Module ECTS

7.5

Module pre-requisites

None

Module co-requisites

None

NQF level (module)

4

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

25/04/2017

Last revision date

25/04/2017