Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE3515 Ice in the Earth System

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Tom Slater

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

A Level Mathematics OR Physics OR approved Level 1 Maths/Physics equivalent module

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG3669The Cryosphere
SOEE5515MIce in the Earth System

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The cryosphere (comprising snow, sea ice and glaciers) plays an important role in the Earth System, by driving, as well as responding to, global changes. You will engage with current debates in the research literature to improve your understanding of contemporary distributions of snow cover, sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets, and place this within the longer-term context of the past and future evolution of the Earth system and climate. You will explore the primary controls of cryospheric change, and identify the feedbacks that are accelerating these changes in a warming climate. You will also develop skills in remote sensing to assess changes in the cryosphere and forecast its future evolution. By critically examining these data you will also gain understanding of their limitations and how uncertainty in predictions is handled in practical terms.


The objectives of this module are:

1. To establish the past and current distribution of snow, sea ice and glaciers and the role they play within the Earth system
2. To identify the global controls of cryospheric change and the specific processes that will determine its evolution on a local scale

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, the student will gain an understanding of:

- The role of sea ice, snow and glaciers within the Earth system and its interaction with climate
- How the cryosphere has evolved over long (tens of thousands of years) timescales.
- Recent changes in the cryosphere, what caused them and the processes that will drive the future evolution of sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets and sea level.

Students will also learn to analyse and interpret remote sensing data of the cryosphere.

Skills outcomes
Numerical interpretation and presentation of data.


Lectures will cover a range of topics related to ice in the earth system, which may include:

The role of ice within the Earth system.
Fundamental principles of the cryosphere.
Sea ice.
Mountain glaciers.
Past ice sheets.
Observing the current health of the ice sheets.
Future changes in the cryosphere.

During the practical sessions, students will analyse up to date observational data of sea ice and ice sheets to reinforce and develop concepts learn in the lectures and to learn techniques used to analyse and interpret cryosphere data.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

82 hours to include: 4 hours reading per lecture, 18 hours preparation, analysis and write up of computer practical, 16 hours revision for assessment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Written feedback on each of the assignments will also be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 * 1200 word essay50.00
Computer ExerciseComputer workshop assessed report (1,200 words)50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The re-sit for this module will be by an essay only.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/10/2023


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019