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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Glacial Processes and Geomorphology (GEGR10075)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to glacial processes operating in past and present glacial environments with a focus in the context of ongoing climate change. This will involve the study of glacier mass balance including the rapid and ongoing mass loss of ice masses globally, glacier physics, ice motion and hydrology and consideration of the past, present and future of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. It will draw on methodologies that use theoretical, field based and remote sensing techniques to infer glacial processes.
Course description This course aims to provide students with a fundamental knowledge of the physics and dynamics of glacier ice masses, enabling them to understand what controls glacier formation and the subsequent behaviour of ice masses. It also develops a critical understanding of the processes associated with glacial environments, in both ice-contact and proglacial situations and considers the societal importance of glaciers and the future stability of the world┬┐s ice masses in a warming climate.

The course will be structured around a series of lectures providing a grounding in fundamental glacial processes.

This course is open to 3rd and 4th year students and is available to all university students but priority will be given to Geography and other GeoSciences Degree Programmes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Global Change (GEGR08011) AND Geomorphology (GEGR08002)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is open to 3rd and 4th year students and is available to all university students but priority will be given to Geography and other GeoSciences Degree Programmes.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 60%, Course Work: 40 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

Exam in December diet, will require answering two questions (from six) based on the lecture programme and background reading associated with the course. The course work will involve producing one 2000 word essay from a selection of six essay titles.

Assessment deadlines:
Degree Essay - Week 9
Feedback Students will receive formative feedback following 10 minute presentations to the class that summarise and critique an important academic paper. These paper presentations will be given in weeks 10 and 11 and presented in groups of two or three.

Feedback will be given on summative assessment in relation to the 2000 word course essay and the exam.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a thorough understanding of glacier and ice sheet morphology and distribution and the dynamics of various ice masses with reference to mass balance, thermal properties, basal conditions and bed materials
  2. demonstrate the ability to explain critically the processes controlling meltwater transport through the glacial system, with specific reference to supraglacial, englacial and subglacial hydrology
  3. demonstrate an understanding of how and why ice masses are changing in a warming climate and the implications for future sea level
  4. demonstrate skills of critical analysis through inter-disciplinary study and their ability to i) produce a written discursive essay based on library research and ii) to give a team presentation summarising the findings and significance of a selected academic paper
Reading List
Bamber J. and Payne, A. (2005) Mass Balance of the Cryosphere. Camb. Univ. Press.
Benn D and Evans D (2010) Glaciers and Glaciation. Arnold. 2nd edition.
Cuffey K and Paterson W S (2010) The Physics of Glaciers. Pergamon. 4th edition.
Gurnell A. M. and Clark M. J. (eds) (1987). Glacio-fluvial Sediment Transfer - an Alpine perspective. Wiley.
Hooke R LeB (1998) Principles of glacier mechanics, Prentice Hall.
Knight P (1999) Glaciers. STP.
Sharp M., Richards K. S., and Tranter, M. (eds), (1998) Glacier Hydrology and Hydrochemistry, J. Wiley.

Particularly useful Journals include the Journal of Glaciology, Annals of Glaciology, The Cryosphere, Nature, Science, Nature Geoscience, Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters and Geology.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Transferable skill-learning objectives
- students to have developed their skills of critical analysis through inter-disciplinary study
- students to have further developed their ability to produce a logically argued written report based on library research
- students to have further developed their presentation skills including the ability to summarise clearly the work of others
Course organiserProf Peter Nienow
Tel: (0131 6)50 9139
Course secretaryMiss Leigh Corstorphine
Tel: (01316) 502572
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