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

Undergraduate Course: Quaternary Environmental Change (EASC09007)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course unit presents an integrated approach to the processes that have driven the observed environmental changes at various time scales during the Quaternary period. Discussed are the interactions between the oceans, ice sheets and continents and the way in which climate change drives/affects Earth surface processes. The environmental records that preserve signals of environmental change on time scales of millions of years to decades and drivers are discussed. Practical sessions introduce techniques used in retrieving information on, and reconstructing, past environments from environmental archives (e.g. sediments, corals) and comparing data from different settings.
Course description Week 1
Lecture 1
Introduction to the Quaternary (SJ)
Lecture 2
Long-term climate change: Uniqueness of the Quaternary (DK)

Week 2
Lecture 3
Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles 1 (DK)
Practical 1
Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 1 (DK)

Week 3
Lecture 4
Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles 2 (DK)
Practical 2
Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 2 (DK)

Week 4
Lecture 5
What drives glacial-interglacial climate change? (SJ)
Practical 3
Retrieving environmental information from O- isotope curves (SJ)

Week 5
Lecture 6
Sea level change: Past and Future (DK)
Practical 4
Sea level change (DK)

Week 6
Lecture 7
Rapid Climate Change: Processes and climate records 1 (SJ)
Lecture 8
Rapid Climate Change: Processes and climate records 2. (SJ)

Week 7
Lecture 9
Variability in Tropical climate: Monsoon, rainfall & gases (SJ)
Practical 5
Climate change and Sapropels (SJ)

Week 8
Lecture 10
Dating records of climate change (1) (SJ)
Practical 6
Dating long-term climate change (SJ)

Week 9
Lecture 11
Dating records of climate change (2) (SJ)
Practical 7
Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres (SJ)

Week 10
Lecture 12
Climate and hominid evolution: Droughts and trade winds (DK).
Close to the exam
Q&A session (date and venue to be announced during class).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to explain the nature, mechanisms and processes involved in past climate variability at million to decadal time scales and the way climate change has affected human evolution.
  2. Students will be able to describe the methods used in retrieving palaeoclimate information from various environmental archives.
  3. During the practical classes, students will also receive training in a number computer programs relevant to analysing environmental data.
Reading List
W.F. Ruddiman, Earth's Climate: Past and Future, W. H. Freeman and Company
R.C.L. Wilson, S.A. Drury & J.L. Chapman, The Great Ice Age: Climate Change and Life, The Open University
R.S. Bradley, Quaternary Palaeoclimatology, Unwin
J.J.Lowe & M.J.C. Walker, Reconstructing Quaternary Environments, Longman
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Simon Jung
Course secretaryMs Casey Hollway
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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