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GEOG3005 Reconstructing Palaeoenvironmental Change

Module Overview

To explore the dramatic environmental changes that occurred at the end of the last ice age and the beginning of the present warm period and to understand how the study of landscape change can inform predictions of future environmental change.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To explore the dramatic environmental changes that occurred at the end of the last ice age and the beginning of the present warm period and to understand how the study of landscape change can inform predictions of future environmental change.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in Palaeoecology
  • The nature of change in marine and terrestrial environments over the last 15,000 years
  • Past variabilty in atmospheric, glacial, marine and terrestrial environments with in-depth competance and detailed knowledge of environment change in North West Europe and North America
  • A substantial range of observational strategies in Palaeoecology
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Pursue knowledge in an in-depth, ordered and mitvated way
  • Produce fluent and comprehensive written reports on complex topics
  • Marshal and retrieve data from library and internet resources
  • Be aware of the role and importance of evidence-based research
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Conduct field and laboratory research using standardised sediment classification systems and Pollen Analysis
  • Understand the various ways in which palaeoecological data can be combined and interpreted
  • Understand the importance of data integrity, quality assurance and archiving in field and laboratory contexts
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse literature in Palaeoecology
  • Assess the merits of contrasting theories and explanations
  • Abstract and synthesise information from a range of different sources
  • Analyse and critically interpret primary and secondary data

Syllabus

The environmental upheavals that occurred at the end of the last ice age were dramatic. Sea levels rose by more than 100 metres, average temperatures changed by as much as 15°C within the life span of a single human. Vast tracts of land, once scoured by ice sheets, were exposed, revealing landscapes composed of till, scoured rock and numerous lakes. This module will examine the factors that contributed to this major environmental instability with particular reference to the impacts on plants, animals and humans from 18,000 years BP (Before Present) through to the beginning of farming in Britain (5000 year BP), when humans began to have a widespread and significant impact upon the landscape. It is important to study past landscape and climate changes so that human societies can plan for future environmental change. Scientists need to understand the processes that drive change but they also need to establish the ‘baseline’ against which anthropogenic disturbances to the environment can be measured. The main areas covered by the module include: • environments of the Last Ice Age • the Lateglacial period • deglaciation - the drivers and consequences of icesheet disintegration • landscape change in the early-Holocene, including glacial refugia and submerged landscapes • vegetation and soil development • Peatlands as palaeoclimate archives • Migrations of biomes in response to past climate change.

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience. Lab work: The module will include will include pollen work in the Palaeoecology Laboratory. The laboratory has wheelchair access.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Taught in Semester 1

TypeHours
Independent Study150
Total study time150

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 50%
Practical Report 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites

To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

CodeModule
GEOG2006Quaternary Environmental Change
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