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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Physical Geography (GEGR08010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course provides a foundation for the understanding of fundamental concepts and current ideas in physical geography. The course begins by considering in broad terms the development of physical geography and the key concepts and phenomena of change and evolution, cycles, fluxes and events, the environment as resource and hazard, and the human impact on the environment. The remainder of the course explores these themes in more detail in the context of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, pedosphere and biosphere. The course emphasizes the importance of spatial variation, and temporal and spatial scales, and interactions between human society and the biophysical environment.

Please note this is a compulsory course for students on the Geography Degree Programmes, and Sustainable Development (Geography Pathway); This course is open to all 1st and 2nd year university students but priority will be given first to students on the Earth Science and Physical Geography degree programme, and subsequently to other degree programmes in the School of GeoSciences.
Course description The course will be structured around a series of lectures that provide a grounding in fundamental concepts associated with physical geography. A series of practicals enable groups of students learn technical skills that deepen understanding of particular concepts and approaches. Practicals also offer the opportunity for peer learning and feedback from demonstrators. All of the key concepts, ideas and information gleaned from lectures and practicals need to be followed up by careful study of listed key readings and a selection of the wider readings. A course handbook provides a detailed summary of the course structure.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Please note this is a compulsory course for students on the Geography and Sustainable Development programmes (Geography Pathway). This course is open to all 1st and 2nd year university students however, priority will be given first to students on the Earth Science and Physical Geography degree programmes, and subsequently to other degree programmes in the School of GeoSciences.
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  222
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 123 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Exam: 2 hours. Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours: 125
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Multiple Choice Exam: 60%
Coursework: 40%

The assessment is in two parts: a 1,500 word (max) degree essay and a multiple choice exam.

The degree essay has a choice of titles, and details on the preparation and submission of the course essay are provided at the start of the course.

The exam consists entirely of multiple choice questions that will assess your understanding of the material across the whole of the course content; this includes material covered in the practicals, as well as in the lectures and the relevant associated reading. There will be 40 questions in the exam with a choice of 5 answers for each question. Each correct answer will gain 2.5 marks. There will be no marks deducted for incorrect answers.

Assessment Deadlines:
The course essay will be due in Week 9 of Semester 2
Feedback During this course formative feedback will be provided in various ways, including oral and/or written comments you receive on your practical assignments and feedback on responses to questions in lectures. Such formative feedback is very important as it helps you to improve your understanding of the course content and to refine your skills in writing more clearly and concisely. Written feedback is provided on the degree essay and there is an opportunity to discuss this in the following Semester.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Physical Geography2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An understanding of the nature and development of physical geography.
  2. An appreciation of the concepts and phenomena of change, evolution, cycles, fluxes and individual events as the context for understanding the physical geography of the present world.
  3. An appreciation of the way the biophysical environment interacts with human societies.
  4. An understanding of the major processes involved in the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the pedosphere and the biosphere.
  5. An appreciation of the importance of spatial and temporal variation and scale in physical geography.
Reading List
1. Cox, C.B. and Moore, P.D. 2010 Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach (8th edn) (Wiley).

2. Holden, J. 2012 An Introduction to Physical Geography and the Environment (3rd edn) (Pearson).

3. Goudie, A.S. 2013 The Human Impact on the Natural Environment (7th edn) (Wiley).

4. Lomolino, M.V., Riddle, B.R., Whittaker, R.J. and Brown, J.H. 2010 Biogeography 4th edn (Sinauer Associates Inc.).

5. Shonk, J. 2013 Introducing Meteorology (Dunedin Academic Press).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain experience of critically evaluating scientific papers and of synthesizing information, of producing written summaries and analyses, of discussing issues in a group format, and of undertaking the practical analysis of environmental processes.
Special Arrangements This course is open to all university students however, priority is given to students on the Geography Degree and Sustainable Development programmes.
KeywordsPhysical geography,human society,Atmosphere,Hydrosphere,Pedosphere,Biosphere,Environment
Course organiserProf Simon Mudd
Tel: (0131 6)51 9090
Course secretaryMiss Leigh Corstorphine
Tel: (01316) 502572
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