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Understanding past landscapes and environmental change is important for contextualising current and future climate changes. This subject will enable students to develop a profound understanding of Quaternary environments and environmental change through field and lab‐based learning in the Australian arid zone. Students will learn a range of key palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatological field and laboratory techniques.
The subject consists of a 10‐day field trip into the dry heart of the continent along a transect across a diverse range of Australian landscapes and ecosystems. The fieldtrip takes place in semester break with pre‐departure information sessions and practical classes following the field trip.
The subject is designed to develop students’ understanding of (i) past and present environments along the southern margin of the Australian outback, (ii) the links between long‐term climate change, landscapes, and humans over various Quaternary timescales. In addition, (iii) the subject aims to develop the students’ skills in a wide range of field and lab‐based methods to characterize and reconstruct past landscapes, environments and climates. This will be achieved via practical and project‐based field sessions and sampling carried out in small groups, and will be followed by laboratory‐based analysis and the production of a field research report that targets specific topics.
The field trip is conducted under the supervision of the subject coordinator(s). Students are responsible for the cost of airfares, internal travel, accommodation and food.
Note this subject may be taken as the capstone subject for the Geography major in the BA and the BSc.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Analyse the key literature and current debates and key theories on Quaternary environmental change and landscape evolution in Australia and globally;
- Explain climate and environmental change over long and short-term timescales during the last 2-3 million years;
- Describe and apply the key field and analytical techniques for reconstructing past environmental changes and measuring the Earth surface dynamics in different circumstances and settings;
- Evaluate how these techniques can be applied and integrated into future planning and policy.
- Synthesize how physical, biological, and human processes interact to shape natural landscapes and ecosystem diversity over a range of scales;
- Identify and interpret manifestations of long‐term environmental change in the contemporary landscape;
On completion of this subject students should have developed the following generic skills:
- Reading, writing and speaking in theoretically aware and comparative ways;
- Digital literacy: conducting online and library searches for relevant, critical literatures;
- Ability to comprehend and critique some of the current debates in the field;
- Using a case study approach to explore processes and problems situated in particular contexts;
- Work effectively in a teamwork situation;
- Report-writing, data exploration, visualization and presentation techniques;
- Field mapping and sampling techniques;
- Analytical laboratory skills in sedimentology, soil science and palaeoclimatology.
Last updated: 8 June 2022