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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Geodiversity Conservation and Interpretation (PGGE11222)

This course will be closed from 13 January 2017

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe term geodiversity is increasingly taken to encompass all aspects of natural, non-living materials (and associated landforms) that have contributed to the physical structure of the planet. It also includes the processes that continue to form them today, both internally and at the surface. This broad definition includes geological materials, the geological and geomorphological processes that form them and landforms created by such processes. It also includes products of the interactions of these materials and processes with biological systems, which includes soils. As a concept it can sit alongside both our concepts of biodiversity and the need for its management/conservation and our understanding of the foundation of our ecosystems and its role therefore in delivering essential benefits and services for society. However our understanding and acceptance of the need for conservation of geodiversity is still very much in its infancy.
There is recognition that one of the barriers to developing strategies for, and an acceptance of, geodiversity conservation is the difficulty in explaining and interpreting geological and geomorphological concepts and processes to a range of different audiences (from policy-makers to the public). This can in part be down to the extensive terminology and vocabulary associated with an understanding of geodiversity which can create barriers to interpretation and acceptance of the value of important features and sites. Developing skills in communicating complex concepts to a wide range of audiences is increasingly seen as a key skill in the workplace.
This module therefore aims to provide a straightforward but effective basis for students to develop key knowledge and understanding of: geodiversity conservation issues; approaches to geodiversity conservation; national and international legislation and policies pertaining to geodiversity conservation; current/new strategy developments for conservation of sites of geological importance (e.g. the UK Geodiversity Action Plan; Soil Conservation strategies etc.).

Course description 1) Background concepts and understanding of the role/value of geodiversity to society.
Definition of terminology and vocabulary associated with the study of geodiversity. Fundamental and key geological, geomorphological and edaphic processes will be revised. Through the use of case study sites (e.g. RIGS ; quarries; SSSIs; Geoparks) the role of these processes in the evolution of differing landscapes will be addressed.

2) Importance of, and threats to, sites and features of
geodiversity importance.
Assessment of current and future threats to geodiversity
features and sites. Study of the criteria/methods used in
the identification and designation of sites for protection
(e.g. Geological Conservation Review). Case study sites
will be used to address how the features were identified
and evaluated; they will also be examined to assess
efficacy of designation and conservation/protection

3) Development of conservation strategies and
approaches to geodiversity conservation.
Role of conservation management plans. Study of local,
national and international approaches to geodiversity
conservation (LGS; SSSIs, Global Geoparks) including
the development of strategy, policy and legislation.
Identification, and discussion of the role of individuals,
organisations (governmental and non-governmental) in
designating and protecting sites and features of

4) Interpretation of geodiversity sites and features and
communication of their importance to contrasting
Discussion of the need/importance of communicating
geosciences and geodiversity to a diverse range of
audiences. Identification of the different approaches
that can be used (use of different media, language etc.).
Use of case studies to examine interpretative material
for contrasting audiences ┐ e.g. general public, schools,
tertiary education, scientific and mass media, stakeholders, policymakers. Application of communication skills to interpreting a case study site for different interest groups.

This course provides an insight and experience of skills sets identified as currently desirable to both the student cohort and employment sector concerned with Geodiversity conservation and the wider environment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs No
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe geological, geomorphological and edaphic processes and features and their role in the evolution of differing landscapes.
  2. Evaluate the historical and societal importance and value of geodiversity features and sites and the threats to their conservation.
  3. Discuss the development of strategies, and approaches taken, to conserve sites and features of geodiversity interest and interpret sites and features of geodiversity interest for contrasting groups.
  4. Show extended project management and organisation skills with improved communication, management and interactive skills developed through group work.
  5. Plan and write assignments, within the specified parameters and to a professional standard that includes the development of reasoned arguments, firmly grounded in the available literature.
Reading List
Burek, C. V. & Prosser, C. D. (2008) The history of geoconservation: an introduction. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 300, 1-5.

Gray, M., (2004). Geodiversity: Valuing and conserving abiotic nature . Wiley, Chichester.

Towers, W., Malcolm, A. & Bruneau, P.M.C. (2005). Assessing the nature conservation value of soil and its relation with
designated features. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 111 (ROAME No. F03AC104).

Stace, H. & Larwood, J. (2006) Natural Foundations: Geodiversity for People, Places and Nature. English Nature. - - This is a useful overview of integrated thinking on Geodiversity. Available as a PDF download or free from
Natural England┐s publications department (code CORP.21).

Stewart, I. C., & Nield, T. (2013) Earth stories: context and narrative in the communication of popular geosciences. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, Volume 124, Issue 4, 699 712.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will acquire and develop the following transferable skills:
1. An ability to communicate effectively for different purposes and in different contexts;
2. An ability to contextualise knowledge and ideas.
3. Organisation skills to plan, execute and report on scientific investigation.
4. To participate in individual and team activities toward the completion of assignments and goals.
5. Critically evaluate literature, to identify gaps in knowledge, synergies.
Special Arrangements None
Study Abroad No
KeywordsGeology,Geodiversity,Edaphic Properties,Communication,Conservation.
Course organiserDr Jennifer Carfrae
Tel: 0131 535 4417
Course secretaryMrs Elspeth Martin
Tel: 0131 535 4198
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