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School of Environment, Education and Development

Geography students in a lab
BSc Geography
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BSc Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Dynamic Earth

Unit code GEOG10422
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Environment, Education and Development
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

What is Physical Geography and what does it mean to be a Physical Geographer? The Earth is an ever-changing system and driven by dynamic processes and remarkable events.  Currently the planet faces many challenges - climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, natural hazards, land use and management, declining resources to name a few.

Building on the themes introduced in Semester 1 (e.g. GEOG 10401 Environmental Processes and Change), we will explore the role of Physical Geography in tackling some of these ‘grand challenges’ and discover how geographical research is expanding our understanding of key processes.

 

Course structure

After an introductory lecture, the course will be delivered through a series of topical lectures focusing on a specific topic each week. A range of Physical Geography staff members will teach on the course, each giving a week’s lecture and associated reading on specialist and topical research topics.  Previous topics have included: wildfires, radioactive contamination, global biodiversity, human impacts on the landscape, and dust in the environment.

We will also investigate how physical geographers interact with different audiences, including policy makers and the public. 

Aims

  • To gain a robust understanding of fundamental Physical Geography processes.
  • To understand the range of scientific approaches used in Physical Geography.
  • To relate these concepts and approaches to a range of case studies from leading researchers in the Geography department.
  • To explore the role of the Physical Geographer in an ever-changing world.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a scientific understanding of a range of physical geography processes.
  • Recognise the different approaches and methods of investigation in Physical Geography.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of Physical Geography through use of key case studies.
  • Recognise potential areas for your own future research e.g. dissertations. 

Syllabus

Course structure

After an introductory lecture, the course will be delivered through a series of topical lectures focusing on a specific topic each week. A range of Physical Geography staff members will teach on the course each giving a week’s lecture and associated reading on specialist and topical research topics.  Indicative topics are: wildfires, radioactive contamination, global biodiversity, human impacts on the landscape, and dust in the environment.

A key element of the course will be a full day fieldtrip to a nearby region (e.g. Peak District, Yorkshire Dales) to explore the physical geography of the landscape. You will gain experience of field-based research and where you will develop your field skills in research design and identify future topics of interest (e.g. dissertation ideas)  

Teaching and learning methods

The course is primarily lecture-based with an associated fieldtrip element. Each week the two-hour lecture will include class discussion and activities. Students will be expected to complete assigned readings between lectures.  A high level of attendance is expected and will ensure that you are well supported for the course assessment. The module will be supported by a compressive Blackboard site including extended reading, supplementary materials, and online resources. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

During this unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

  • Critical reading and analysis of scientific literature;
  • Research design      
  • Fieldwork skills such as field notebooks, mapping, and environmental sampling. 

Assessment methods

The course is assessed by an end of semester two hour unseen examination (100%) consisting of multiple choice questions, short answers, and an essay question. 

Feedback methods

  • Verbal formative feedback through Q&A, discussion sessions within the lecture courses;
  • Individual verbal formative feedback on a wide range of issues via consultation hours;
  • Feedback on your progress with practice exam questions;
  • Feedback on exam performance in second year academic advisor meetings.

Recommended reading

Readings will be assigned from a range of sources and each week there will be a dedicated list of essential reading. Wider reading is essential in order to do well in the final examination.

A useful text for the course:

Holden, J. (ed.) (2008) An Introduction to Physical Geography and the Environment. Harlow: Pearson.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Gareth Clay Unit coordinator

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