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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Sensitivity and Change (GEGR08001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the dynamics of the Earth System, paying particular attention to the concepts of systems, thresholds, feedbacks, sensitivity and fragility. We explore the importance of past events in understanding the present, and vice versa.

This course is open to all university students: priority for places is given to students on the Geography degree programmes, other Geoscience degrees and Sustainable Development.
Course description This course examines the dynamics of ecosystems and the environment from local to global scales, and from decades to millenia. In the course we focus on 1)understanding the drivers of environmental change from decades to millenia; 2) the responses of Polar, Temperate and Tropical regions to change and their role in further reinforcing change to both climate and ecosystems; 3) human-environment interactions and 4) methods & concepts that enable students to interpret the environmental change. We examine concepts of systems, thresholds, feedbacks, sensitivity and fragility, and how this relates and aids our understanding of environmental change. We explore the importance of past events in understanding the present and future.

Wk1: Course Introduction and What is the Earth System?
Wk 2: Long-term climate change; Palaeoenvironment reconstruction
Wk 3: Quaternary environments and extinctions
Wk 4: The Carbon Cycle and feedback in ecosystems
Wk 5: Glacial Systems and climate change
Wk 6: Permafrost dynamics and polar amplification of climate change
Wk 7: Temperate vegetation dynamics
Wk 8: Tropical vegetation dynamics, drought and fire
Wk 9: Human- environment interactions
Wk 10: The Anthropocene
Wk 11: Societal collapse with environmental change; exam revision
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Physical Geography (GEGR08010) OR Earth Dynamics (EASC08001)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 7, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 123 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Students are required to pass both the degree coursework and the exam in order to pass the course.
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Degree Project (2500 words max) 40%
Degree Examination (2 hours - 20 multiple choice questions, 6 short answer questions and 2 long answer questions) 50%
Class Mark 10% (based on tutorial assignments and tutorial attendance).
Feedback Feedback is provided at multiple stages. Students submit tutorial assignments, and will receive feedback on each piece of work they submit. Tutorial assignments cover written work, oral presentations and group work, and feedback is provided on each. There is a tutorial specifically on exam revision to familiarise students with the structure and style of the exam. Students receive written feedback on the degree essay submitted.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Environmental Sensitivity and Change2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Environmental Sensitivity and Change2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the scope of environmental sensitivity change and the diversity of scientific approaches to examining past, present and future environmental change
  2. Be able to assess and analyse drivers of environmental change across Polar, Temperate and Tropical Regions
  3. An ability to discuss the merits and shortcomings of major concepts and theories and evidence presented in support of these
  4. Develop reasoned arguments incorporating evidence and literature from an interdisciplinary research field
  5. Take responsibility for your learning via assigned reading, literature research and the preparation of class work and the degree essay
Reading List
There is no set text for this course : the content covered in the course is broad. The best, most appropriate, up to date and relevant information is to be found in the form of book chapters and scientific papers that will be provided throughout the course.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the scope and main areas of environmental sensitivity and change, and the scientific approaches to principle issues within the focus of the course.
Students will also be able to demonstrate an ability to acquire and apply specialist knowledge.
Finally, students will be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
Special Arrangements This course is open to all university students: priority for places is given to students on the Geography degree programmes, other Geoscience degrees and Sustainable Development.
Additional Class Delivery Information Practicals as required, plus tutorials.
Course organiserDr Caroline Lehmann
Tel: (0131 6)50 6125
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Mcallister
Tel: (0131 6)50 4917
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