ESC-30006 - Glaciers and Glacial Geomorphology
Coordinator: Peter Knight Room: WSF30 Tel: +44 1782 7 34304
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733615

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

The whole global environmental system is dominated by the planet's glacial character, and an understanding of the Earth's surface is impossible without an understanding of the characteristics of glaciers. This module explores those characteristics, giving students the opportunity to develop a high level of expertise in the study of glaciers and glacial landscapes. The main themes of the course are: the characteristics and behaviour of glaciers; the role of glaciers as part of the global system; and the impact of glaciers on the landscape. In recent Earth history 30 per cent of the Earth's land surface has been covered by glaciers. At present, glaciers cover about 10 per cent of the land. Seventy five per cent of the world's fresh water is contained in glaciers, which provide irrigation water for some of the most densely populated areas of the world. The development potential of large areas of our planet is dependent on our ability to mitigate glacial hazards, to harness glacial resources, and to penetrate the glacial barrier to the immense terrestrial and marine resources of the polar regions.

This module is intended to help students to develop a sound understanding of glaciers, of their role in the global environment, and of their impact on landscapes. Students taking this module should develop: their knowledge and understanding of the principles, theory, and practice of glaciology and glacial geomorphology; their knowledge and understanding of places and physical environments outside their immediate everyday experience; their ability to conceptualise patterns, processes, interactions and change in the physical environment as interconnected systems at a range of spatial and temporal scales; their ability to analyse, evaluate and report published scientific research.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

make concise but clear and accurate factual statements about: glaciers; glacial landscapes; the history of research and the current state of knowledge in glaciology and glacial geomorphology; the relationship between geography and other disciplines in the study of these topics; and the ways in which glacial phenomena illustrate key geographical concepts: 1,2
summarise and evaluate a selection of theoretical debates and research publications in glaciology and glacial geomorphology, presenting a sustained and reasoned written argument that acknowledges and illustrates the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding in the discipline: 1
apply a detailed knowledge of the research literature to complex questions about glaciers and glacial geomorphology: 1,2
present a sustained and reasoned written argument to explain complex connections between different parts of the glacier system, making explicit reference to the ways in which those connections have been investigated by scientists: 1
interpret ground-based and aerial or satellite images of glaciers and glaciated landscapes, and present concise but well-evidenced written descriptions and explanations of them: 2

Study hours

24 hours scheduled synchronous class activity
36 hours structured engagement with online resources and directed research
36 hours research and completion of the coursework essay
36 hours research and completion of the workbook exercise
18 hours flexible independent study time

School Rules

Students who take this at level-6 will not be able to take ESC-40017 at level-7

Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
2,000 word essay plus reference list
An essay of up to 2,000 words, plus a correctly formatted reference list, incorporating illustrations as appropriate. A selection of titles will be offered in the module handbook, from which students must choose one. Submission will be online, through the KLE.

2: Workbook weighted 50%
A workbook of images and data for students to interpret and explain
A workbook exercise comprising images, data, and short extracts from scientific literature that students are required to identify, interpret and explain in concise written and diagrammatic answers (totalling approx 2,000 words, plus diagrams and references, for the whole workbook). The workbook is largely image based, and specific requirements for the students' interpretations will be closely tied to specific module content and class activities, and will include diagrammatic components.