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2013/14 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3876 Biogeochemical Cycles and Environmental Issues

10 creditsClass Size: 5

Module manager: Dr Clare Woulds

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2013/14

Pre-requisite qualifications

Previous introduction to global biogeochemical cycles. Background in Earth Sciences, Chemistry and/or Biology is advantageous

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG3875Biogeochemical Cycles: Process to Policy
SOEE3110Earth System Science: BGC Cyc

Module replaces

GEOG 3950 Earth as an Integrated System

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Global biogeochemical cycles describe the movement of biologically important elements through the Earth System (the combination of atmosphere, oceans, rocks and biota). The processes which govern such cycles are fundamental to all life, and result in a complex series of interactions and feedbacks. In this you will apply an understanding of the global cycling of biologically important elements, such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous to debates about contemporary environmental issues, and you will learn how the cycles combine to control Earth evolution, regulation, and climate.


To teach a knowledge of the global cycles of the important bioelements.
To foster an understanding of feedbacks within the Earth System, and of how cycles are closely interconnected.
To foster an understanding of human impacts on the Earth System, and their future implications.
To develop the ability to debate and discuss possible future courses of action.
To develop critical reading and information synthesis skills.
To develop written and verbal communication and teamwork skills.

Learning outcomes
Students will gain a knowledge and understanding of:
The ways in which humans have impacted the global biogeochemical cycles of important bioelements, such as C, N and P, and the future implications of this.
An understanding of how the different bioelement cycles are linked, and together play a major role in determining Earth evolution, regulation, and climate.

Skills outcomes
This module will develop skills in critical reading, and in synthesising information from multiple sources. Group discussions, debates and presentations will develop communication, presentation and teamwork skills, and the ability to construct a persuasive argument.


This module will take an in-depth look at biogeochemical environmental issues and debates, as well as assessing the interrelation between biogeochemical cycles in the Earth system, in the past, present and future.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours82.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Private study will include reading of set material after each lecture, and in preparation for seminars. Additional reading and writing up of one seminar will be required for the essay assessment. It will also include reading for and preparation of the group presentation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be required to make one blog post on a question relating to one of their workshop sessions. Staff will read and comment on these, providing scope for progress monitoring and formative feedback. The blog posts will be formative assessment, and will be pass-to-progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words80.00
Oral Presentation10 minutes20.00
AssignmentBlog post (pass to progress)0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 03/02/2014


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