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School of Environment, Education and Development

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
BSc Geography with International Study

Study a course tailored to you at the university ranked fourth in the UK for Geography (Guardian University Guide).

BSc Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:

Unit code GEOG20351
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course covers glacial and periglacial environments, processes and landforms.  The course will include introductory glaciology and the basics of upland and lowland glacial geomorphology. This will provide the basis for reconstructing past glacial and periglacial environments.  The theoretical aspects will be combined with a field visit to a classic glacial site in North Wales. The lectures and field trip will be supplemented by follow-up lectures/seminars/lab classes – see below.






This course will examine glacial and periglacial processes in modern-day settings and will show how this knowledge can be used to reconstruct past glacial and periglacial environments. Examples will be referenced from around the world. Glacial and periglacial environments are of major importance for understanding and reconstructing modern and past climatic and environmental change. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should understand:

  • the significance of glacial and periglacial processes as a major component of global environmental change;
  • the processes leading to the development of glacial/ periglacial sediments and landforms;
  • the importance of glacial/ periglacial sediments and landforms for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction;
  • The glacial history of the British Isles and its significance in climate reconstruction and to present day landscapes and resources.

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

  • critical evaluation of scientific evidence;
  • research strategy and problem solving;
  • scientific writing, style and philosophy;
  • recognise the place of specialised knowledge within wider contexts of global change;
  • geomorphological mapping/ glacial sedimentology and associated field and laboratory techniques. 


Course structure (the precise running order may change)


Lectures will be supported by two laboratory classes/seminars in addition to a day-long fieldtrip (dates to be confirmed)


  1. Glaciers - Introduction
  2. Glaciers dynamics 
  3. Glaciers and meltwater
  4. Glaciers & erosion – theory and case studies 
  5. Glacial erosion, sediment transport & deposition 
  6. Glacial geomorphology – upland environments 
  7. Periglacial environments 
  8. Glacial geomorphology – lowland environments  
  9. Reconstructing ELAs = methods
  10. Revision Session


+ One-Day Fieldtrip (Date and week to be confirmed)


The course will run over 12 weeks in Semester 1, with 10 weeks of lectures/activities and 2 study weeks

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching Methods and E-learning

The course unit is delivered via a mix of lectures, seminars and field/lab-based teaching. The lectures will provide essential background knowledge and theoretical training.  The field-class will examine classic glacial sediments and landforms in a glaciated area and will complement the theoretical knowledge obtained in the lectures.     


The course unit will be supported by electronic resources including:

  • Extensive material on Blackboard, including selected reading material, reading lists and all powerpoint slides, notes and FAQs relating to the assessment.
  • Electronic journals available through the John Rylands University Library
  • Bibliographic programs like Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar available through Manchester University IT 

Assessment methods

This course unit will be examined by a 2-hr examination (¿ of final marks) and an essay (¿ of final marks). The 2-hour unseen exam will take place in January. The essay will be based around topics and themes covered in the field trip and is to be submitted before Christmas (assessment details will be provided early in Semester 1).

Feedback methods

Feedback in a number of ways to help you to improve your future performance:

Interactive activities within lectures (oral, whole-class);

Regular surgeries in consultation hours (oral, one-to-one);

Brief comments on exam scripts (written, one-to-one);

Detailed comments on coursework essays (written, one-to-one) ;

Responding to issues raised through e-mail (electronic, one-to-one).

Recommended reading

Note there is no specific course text.

Benn and Evans (2010) and Bennett and Glasser (2009) are probably the most useful all-round texts for glaciers. However, any of the following textbooks provide good background for the course:


Ballantyne, C.K. and Harris, C. (1994) The periglaciation of Great Britain. Cambridge: CUP.

Benn, D.I. and Evans, D.J.A. (2010) Glaciers and glaciation. Arnold: London. 2nd Edition.

Bennett, M.R. & Glasser, N.F. (2009) Glacial geology: ice sheets and landforms. Chichester: Wiley. 2nd Edition.

French, H.M. (1996) The periglacial environment. Harlow: Longman

Knight, P. (1999) Glaciers. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes

Hambrey, M. (1994) Glacial Environments. London: UCL Press

Nesje, A., & Dahl, S.O. (2000) Glaciers and environmental change. London: Arnold

Paterson, W.S.B. (1994) The Physics of Glaciers. (3rd Edition). Oxford: Pergamon.

Slaymaker, O. and Kelly, R.E.J. (2007) The cryosphere and global environmental change. Blackwell.


Useful web resources

Glaciers online (

Google Scholar (

Humanities Faculty - Studies Skills (

JSTOR Digital Archive (

Scopus (

Web of Science (

World Glacier Inventory (

World Glacier Monitoring Service (


Key Journals

Annals of Glaciology, Boreas, Geografiska Annaler, Journal of Glaciology, Journal of Quaternary Science, Nature, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Quaternary Research, Quaternary Science Reviews, Science.e.



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
PHILIP Hughes Unit coordinator
Jason Dortch Unit coordinator

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