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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE3480 Past Global Environmental Systems

10 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Robert Newton

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22


SOEE2145Palaeoeco, Palaeobio & Evo

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Earth’s surface environments have changed drastically with time and have both directly influenced, and been influenced by, biological evolution. This module will explore a range of approaches to generate information about past environments, before examining a series of case studies across the broad span of Earth history. This will enable you to understand the interacting factors that have controlled the Earth's climate and other environmental variables, both at times of crisis and during background states that were fundamentally different to today.


To understand the interacting factors that controlled the Earth's climate and other environmental variables through time.
To integrate multidisciplinary data sources (geochemical, geological, palaeontological) with the results from models (e.g. palaeoclimate) to evaluate the causes of environmental phenomena such as glaciation, mass extinction and intense greenhouse climates.

Learning outcomes
An understanding of the range of approaches and proxies used to evaluate the palaeo-environmental conditions at the Earth’s surface.
The ability to critically evaluate data from these approaches to derive an understanding of Earth’s past environments.
Specific knowledge of the evolution of Earth surface environments at a number of key points in Earth’s history.


1. The climate system
2. Proxies for palaeoenvironment
3. Modelling approaches to palaeoenvironments
4. The Precambrian oxidation of Earth’s surface environments and Snowball Earth
5. The end-Permian mass extinction
6. The early Triassic recovery
7. CO2 control of climate in the Cenozoic
8. Gateway control of climate in the Cenozoic
9. Orbital control on climate
10. Rapid climate change in the Quaternary and course wrap-up

Note that the module description is flexible enough that the exact mix of case studies can change easily to allow for contributions by other staff in future years.

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
Group Project120.000.00
Private study hours85.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

20 hours group poster preparation
3 hours preparatory reading per lecture
35 hours revision

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In course tests and quizzes.

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
PosterIn Groups20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Resit will be in the form of an open book exam.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam2 hr 15 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:25:48


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