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This subject is an introduction to Geology, Geography, Climate and Environmental Science. It provides an overview of the processes controlling the formation and evolution of our global environment. We begin by exploring the origin of the Earth as a planet within the solar system, its layered structure and (solid and fluid) constituent properties, and the importance of the orbital characteristics in controlling changes in the global climate. The evolution of the major physical features and landscapes of the Earth, including the mountain belts, continents, rivers, coastlines and ocean basins, are described in terms of plate tectonics and its constituent processes of continental drift, seafloor spreading and sea-level changes. The nature of volcanoes and earthquakes are discussed, as are surface processes, such as weathering, erosion and the transport of sediments. Natural chemical and energy cycles are highlighted and causes of biogeographic patterns are explored, all at a number of different time scales. The circulation and interactions of the atmosphere, ocean and land are also examined. The Earth’s present climate, the hydrological cycle and past and future climate change are studied, including glacial/interglacial cycles and their relationship to landscapes, biogeography and anthropogenic impacts.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- describe the solid and fluid Earth and its' processes of formation, evolution and modern physical structure
- explain the materials that comprise the solid and fluid Earth, atmosphere and biosphere
- describe the complex interactions and the processes that control distribution of materials between the solid and fluid Earth, atmosphere and biosphere
- explain the processes that drive evolution of life on Earth
- explain the Earth's climate drivers on modern and geological timescales
The generic skills acquired in this subject include:
- Think critically: organise observations of complex systems to solve environmental problems by using a variety of alternative frameworks
- Problem-solving skills: the ability to engage with unfamiliar problems and identify relevant solution strategies
- Scientific skills: to design and test hypotheses
- Time-management skills: the ability to meet regular deadlines while balancing competing commitments
Last updated: 7 September 2023