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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2090 Climate Systems

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Roel Brienen

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20


GEOG1055Environmental Change: Past and Future

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Over the last 20 years, climate change has become one of the most pressing concerns for society. This module explores the Earth’s atmosphere and the dynamics of the climate system. It considers anthropogenic and natural changes to the atmosphere and oceans that lead to climate change over a range of timescales from inter-annual to millions of years.


After taking this module students will be able to
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the climate system and allied processes within the ocean and atmosphere.
2. Appreciate the patterns and scale of natural variations in the climate over a variety of timescales from millions of years to sub-decadal.
3. Have a detailed understanding of the causes and nature of recent (last ~100 years) climate change.
4. Understand the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and land.

Learning outcomes
The dynamic nature of geographical thought and practice and the inter-relationships between the discipline and the physical and natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities.
The diversity of global environments and the operation of, and inter-relationships between physical and biological systems over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.
Patterns and processes of environmental change and their inter-relationships with human activities.
The theory and application of quantitative, visualisation and other spatial techniques across a wide range of geographical contexts.

Skills outcomes
Cognitive skills
Abstraction and synthesis of information from a variety of sources
Assessment and critical evaluation of the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies
Critical analysis and interpretation of data and text
Developing reasoned arguments
Solving problems and making reasoned decisions

Practical/professional skills
Plan, design, execute and report geographical research both individually and as part of a team
Collect, interpret and synthesise different types of quantitative and qualitative geographical data

Key skills
Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations)
Use information technology effectively (including use of spreadsheet, database and word processing programmes; Internet and e-mail)
Identify, retrieve, sort and exchange geographical information using a wide range of sources
Work as part of a team and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others
Manage time and organise work effectively



This theme may include the following topics:

The climate system; Atmospheric dynamics; Water in the atmosphere; Earth’s contemporary climate; Climate-Ocean interactions; Climate modelling (Atmosphere: Radiative transfer and greenhouse effect; Ocean dynamics; Fully coupled ocean atmosphere land system); Recent climate change; Looking to the future from a modeller’s perspective.


This may include the following topics:

Evolution of the climate system; Climate change over geological timescales; Milankovitch-scale climate change; Glacials and Interglacials; Sub-Milankovitch climate change; Climate forcing over different timescales; The last termination; Holocene climate change; Historical climate change; Looking to the future from a palaeoclimatologist’s perspective.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment21.002.00
Independent online learning hours4.00
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours36.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Lectures and practicals will be accompanied by reading lists (textbooks and journal articles), with an expectation of around three hours reading in support of each lecture. Further private study time will be spent in preparing coursework and revising for the exam, and in preparing group presentations.

An informal formative ‘quiz’ will be set on VLE (independent online learning).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Coursework will provide formal opportunities for feedback between staff and students.

Informal class tests will be used allow students to obtain individual feedback and also allow us to monitor the engagement of individual students with the module.

An informal formative ‘quiz’ will be set on VLE (independent online learning).

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Practical1. Tree rings and climate change, 1500 words30.00
Computer Exercise1. Climate modelling30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Re-sit information: If students do not attend the practical/computer exercises they will be set an essay by way of re-sit. If they do attend, but fail or do not submit the coursework, they will be allowed to re-sit (the practical/computer exercises).

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Short essay questions

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/09/2019


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