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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Global Environmental Change- Foundations (EASC09056)

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 Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course presents an integrated approach to the processes that have driven 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 archives that preserve records of environmental change on Earth on time scales of millions of years to decades are examined. Causes for environmental change through time are scrutinized in a global context. In addition to covering the general change in Earth¿s climate over a longer period, there as a focus on the last glaciation and the transition into the modern Holocene climate. The causes for environmental change will be studied from a marine and a continental perspective. Also, a computer simulation component will highlight the processes having driven past climate change in addition to assessing future climate states. Computer based practical sessions are an important part of the course and introduce techniques used in retrieving information on, and reconstructing, past environments from environmental archives (e.g. sediments, corals) and comparing data from different settings. As part of the practical sessions, transferable skills will be strengthened/generated. These include advanced graphic techniques, basic Excel/OpenOffice programming, training in text structuring, advanced text formatting techniques. Intense support during the practical classes is part of the course.

Further Course Information
Course description Syllabus
Lecture and Practical suite of the course:

Day 1: L1 Introduction to the Quaternary
L2 Long-term climate change: Uniqueness of the Quaternary within the last 60 million years
Day2: L3 Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles1
P1 Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 1

Day 1: P2 Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 2
Day 2: L4 Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles 2
L5 What drives glacial-interglacial climate change?

Day 1: P3 Retrieving environmental information from O-isotope curves 1
Day 2: L6: Sea Level change: Past and Future
P4: Retrieving environmental information from O-isotope curves 2
(in course feedback session)

Day 1: L7 Rapid Climate Change: The Millennial Scale Record 1
Day 2: L8: Rapid Climate Change: The Millennial Scale Record 2
L9: Variability in Tropical climate: Monsoon, rainfall and gases

Day 1: P5 Climate change and Sapropels
Day 2: L10 Dating records of climate change (1)
L11: Dating records of climate change (2)

Day 1: P6 Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres
Day 2: P7 Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres

Day 1: P8 Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres
L12 Rapid Climate Change: the Century to Decadal Scale record followed by Introduction to Article writing
Day 2: P9 Article writing exercise 1

Day 1: P10 Article writing exercise 2 (feedback and help)
Day 2: L14 Holocene Climate Change 1
L15 Holocene Climate Change 2

Day 1: P11 Article writing exercise 3 (feedback and help)
Day 2: L17 Computer simulations ¿ principles/ Article writing feedback

Day 1: L18/19 Computer simulations and climate change through time
Day 2: L20 Climate and hominid evolution: Droughts and trade winds

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 5, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment Details
Coursework: 50% - based on 3 assessed practicals (P1, sessions 1-2: 10%, P4, session 6: 15%, and P6, sessions 10-12: 25%)
Exam: 50%

Assessment Deadlines
- Practical 1 (sessions 1-2): Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis (10%) - Monday Week 3
- Practical 2 (sessions 3-4): Retrieving environmental information from O-isotope curves (Formative) - Monday Week 4
- Practical 3 (session 5) : Sea level change (Formative) - Monday Week 5
- Practical 4 (session 6) : Climate change and Sapropels (15%) - Monday Week 6
- Practical 5 (session 7-9): Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres (formative) - Thursday Week 7
- Practical 6 (sessions 10-12): Article writing exercise (25%) - Friday Week 11
Feedback Feedback will be provided for all course work components as well as during the practicals.

Additional feedback is available on request.

Assessment and Feedback information

All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the School of Geosciences General Information Handbook.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. generate knowledge on types of environmental change on orbital to decadal time scale
  2. evaluate the causes of environmental change through time
  3. assess feedback in the climate system
  4. create awareness of limitations in establishing chronologies for archives of environmental change
  5. strengthen skills in report writing involving critical assessment of data and accounting for uncertainties when drawing conclusions
Reading List
W.F. Ruddiman, 'Earth's Climate: Past and Future'

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
KeywordsEnvironmental change,Milankovitch cycles,millennial to decadal sclae climate change,geochemistry
Course organiserDr Simon Jung
Course secretaryMs Katerina Sykioti
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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