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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE1690 Shaping the Earth

10 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Jacqueline Houghton

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

Sufficient qualifications to be admitted to any of the programmes to which this module is core content are assumed sufficient.

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE1640Earth Through Time

Module replaces

Some components of SOEE1575

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module uses the geological history of Britain and Ireland as an integrated example of how global geological processes shaped the Earth. It covers the principles of plate tectonics and stratigraphy and the Quaternary archive of glacial-interglacial cycles.


- To introduce the principles of stratigraphy and the concept of geological/deep time.
- To review the theory of plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth.
- To use the present day morphology and processes at plate boundaries to understand how these processes operated in the geological past and are preserved in the rock record.
- To explore the geological history of Britain and Ireland and to use this to provide a timeframe for modern day processes.
- To explore, analyse and understand the changes in the environment brought about by the Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles with respect to the evolution of the landscapes of Britain and Ireland and surrounding continental shelf.
- To provide practical training in the methodologies and techniques used to characterise and understand Quaternary deposits.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
1 Identify how global-scale processes (plate tectonics, sea-level and climate change) illustrate and affect regional-scale geological histories.
2 Synthesise tectonic and stratigraphic data to build simple regional-scale geological models.
3 Discuss models for the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of Britain and Ireland and the techniques (stratigraphic, geophysical etc) used to establish these.
4 Effectively communicate scientific concepts to diverse audiences.


- Principles of stratigraphy including lithostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy and biostratigraphy.
- Modern day plate tectonic settings: ocean ridges, oceanic transform faults, subduction zones, continental rifts, continental transforms, passive margins and orogenic belts.
- The concept of isostacy, its mechanisms and effects (e.g. deposition and erosion of sediments).
- How the global processes of plate tectonics, sea-level change and climate change are evidenced in the rock record.
- Evidence used to construct palaeogeographic maps including palaeomagnetism, palaeoclimatology and geological environments.
- Major terranes and sedimentary basins of Britain and Ireland.
- Geological history of Britain and Ireland: the early supercontinents; the opening of the Iapetus ocean; break-up of the Gondwanan supercontinent; closure of the Iapetus; formation and subsequent rifting of the Pangaean supercontinent; and the opening of the North Atlantic.
- Climate of the Quaternary: Milankovitch cycles, glacial-interglacials, sub-orbital cycles, ice cores.
- The Last Glacial Maximum and deglaciation (including modelling examples).
- Sea-level change.
- Quaternary landforms of Britain and Ireland: glacial, peri/paraglacial and fluvial.
- A one day field trip to Ilkley (NW Leeds) to look at glacial, periglacial and paraglacial landforms, and to see evidence of the interaction of engineering and infrastructure with these landforms.

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
Independent online learning hours17.00
Private study hours50.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Researching and collecting resources for the coursework portfolio, including background reading.

Self-assessment online quizzes.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The contents of the group portfolio will be reviewed in weeks 4 and 8 with formative feedback given on its progress and suggestions for improvement/development.
Self-assessed MCQs will allow students to test their understanding of the module material.
Formative feedback will be given on work done during practicals.

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
Report2000 word report synthesising the geological history of an area based on information in portfolio and including a non-technical summary.100.00
PortfolioSmall group work: OneNote notebook collection of notes/figures/maps etc from background reading and other sources0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The portfolio is designed to engage students with the module throughout the semester. It is group work to encourage discussion, peer to peer teaching and engagement in collecting the material. Formative feedback on it will be given twice during the module and the material collected will form the basis of the assessed report and poster.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:46:33


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