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2013/14 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE3760 Terrestrial Biosphere in the Earth System

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Cat Scott

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2013/14

Pre-requisite qualifications

Physical Science background (eg Physical Geography) required

Module replaces


This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

By the end of this module students will have an understanding of the interactions between the terrestrial biosphere, climate and atmospheric composition. They will understand the important physical, biological and chemical processes through which terrestrial ecosystems affect and are affected by climate. This will include knowledge of biosphere-atmosphere couplings of carbon, water and energy and the interactions between ecosystems and climate. The module will also explore the policy implications of ecosystem – climate interactions.


This module is designed to give students an understanding of the importance of the terrestrial biosphere within the Earth System. The module will explore the physical, chemical and biological processes through which terrestrial ecosystems affect and are affected by climate. The module will also cover human alterations to the terrestrial biosphere including policy relevant themes of climate adaptation and mitigation. Specific topics will include the cycling of water, energy and chemical elements, the global carbon cycle, biome shifts under climate change, deforestation and land-use change. The module will be designed around research-led lecture material. The module is interdisciplinary and will be of interest to students studying ecology, environmental science and management, atmospheric science and geography.

Learning outcomes
Students will gain an understanding of:
- The physical, chemical and biological interactions between the terrestrial biosphere and atmosphere
- Ways in which the terrestrial biosphere affects and is affected by climate
- Land-use change and policy relevance

Skills outcomes
- numerical interpretation and presentation of data
- analysis of computer model experiments


-Surface radiation budget and energy balance
-Biosphere-atmosphere couplings of carbon, water and energy
-Ecosystem-atmosphere CO2 exchanges
-Soil carbon and fluxes
-Climate – vegetation interactions
-Dynamic Global Vegetation Models
-Global fire patterns
-Emissions of trace gases and atmospheric composition
-Vegetation change through Earth’s history
-Land use change and impacts on climate
-Climate adaptation and mitigation, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours78.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

78 hours to include: 3 hours reading per lecture, 6 hours preparation/analysis per computer workshop (including writing worksheet answers for assessment), 18 hours exam preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students have the opportunity to gain verbal feedback on their ideas, experiment design and results during the computer classes with staff and demonstrators before submission of their report. We will provide written feedback on the assessed coursework.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Computer ExerciseComputer workshops - assessed report with written up answers/ graphs40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

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: 23/10/2019


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