University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Earth's Atmospheric Composition (EASC10102)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe chemical composition of the atmosphere is important for understanding Earth's climate. We will explore the chemical composition of the atmosphere, with an emphasis on the troposphere that includes the air in which we live and breathe, and the surface processes and atmospheric chemistry and transport that determine its variability. We will cover the fundamentals of atmospheric chemistry (kinetics, photolysis, spectroscopy) so there is no chemistry pre-requisite to this course. The course, as described below, is focused on delivering content using online material, in-class interaction, problem sets and additional reading.
Course description Week 1:
Introduction; atmospheric properties; chemical kinetics

Week 2:
Stratospheric chemistry

Week 3:
Tropospheric chemistry 1: Electromagnetic spectrum; hydroxyl radical; oxidation of methane and carbon monoxide; and cycling of hydrogen oxides.

Week 4:
Tropospheric chemistry 2: Nitrogen oxides; tropospheric ozone; ozone formation and control strategies.

Week 5:
Tropospheric chemistry 3: Surface emissions and deposition processes.

Week 6:
Tropospheric chemistry 4: Aerosols

Week 7:
Atmospheric chemistry and transport; inverse models

Week 8:
Global carbon cycle; CH4 and N2O bio-geochemical cycles; isotopes

Week 9:
Chemistry-climate interactions; air quality

Week 10:
Reserved for completing research essay
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Earth Modelling and Prediction 2 (EASC08018) OR Mathematics for Physics 2 (PHYS08036)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is available to Physics/Geography students.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStudents will have passed EMP2 or equivalent mathematical course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Online Activities 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 75 %, Coursework 25 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 25%
Exam: 75%

The formal written exam typically takes the form of a mathematical problem, a numerical question, and a short essay-type question.

The course work is a 500-word essay on a research topic.

A detailed description of the essay can be found here: The essay will be marked following the common marking scheme.

The essay assignment will be set in week 5 after discussion with the lecturer about topics (typically in week 4), and is due on Wednesday 28th March at 12 noon via online submission.

The formal written exam will be in May 2018.
Feedback Lecturer-student feedback will be provided on the:

500-word essay (online in written form), outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the composition and analysis as per the assessment instructions;

Exam script in written form.
There will be an opportunity to get feedback during class as part of interactive discussions.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)1:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the composition of Earth's atmosphere (and how it compares with other planets)
  2. Understand the role of atmospheric transport and chemistry, and surface processes, on observed atmospheric composition
  3. Appreciate how computer models are formulated and applied to further scientific understanding
  4. Be able to interpret and question quantitatively information reported in the scientific literature
  5. Be able to digest and reduce information in the scientific literature and write a succinct report
Reading List
Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry- Jacob (Recommended)
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics- Seinfeld and Pandis
The Atmosphere: A Very Short Introduction, Palmer, Oxford University Press (short overview).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAtmospheric chemistry; atmospheric transport; aerosols,inverse methods
Course organiserProf Paul Palmer
Tel: (0131 6)50 7724
Course secretaryMiss Eilein Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information