ESC-10039 - Fundamentals of Physical Geography
Coordinator: Peter Knight Room: WSF30 Tel: +44 1782 7 34304
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733615

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This module offers a self-contained introduction to physical geography for students from a variety of backgrounds (including students with no previous experience in the subject), and offers a foundation in the subject for those students who wish to pursue it to a higher level. We cover a broad range of topics, and focus on how the interactions of energy and materials at the Earth's surface control the development of landscapes in the context of long-term environmental change. Students will explore big issues such as climate change, sea level, plate tectonics, atmospheric circulation, Earth materials and landforming processes. This is an important, topical module that underpins further study in many aspects of physical and environmental geography, and is a central part of our 1st-year Geography programme.
Students who complete this module successfully will be able to:
explain important ideas in Physical Geography;
identify major components of Earth's physical-geographic systems;
recognise connections between global systems and local landscapes;
write effectively about geographical topics;
combine different types of evidence to answer questions about the world around us;
appreciate the role of research in the development of knowledge in physical geography.
This module is a great introduction to the core of the subject or, exactly as the title says, the "fundamentals" of physical geography.

The module aims to provide a self-contained introduction to physical geography for students from a variety of backgrounds, including those with no previous experience in the subject, and to provide a foundation in the subject for those students who wish to pursue it at a higher level.

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

briefly explain important concepts in Physical Geography, including the dynamic, plural and contested nature of the discipline and the contribution of research to the development of knowledge, recognising the importance of clear, concise writing in science: 1
identify and describe major components of the Earth's physical-geographic systems, including patterns of variation in the global environment and connections between global systems and local landscapes: 1
combine different types of geographical evidence in order to describe and explain phenomena of the physical environment in a variety of written styles appropriate to the discipline: 1,2
carry out independent reflections, personal research and other self-guided activities to supplement the module's core content, and curate these into a reflective log that demonstrates their ability to elaborate on basic knowledge by the thoughtful selection of extra activities or case-study research: 2

Study hours

22 hours (11 x 2) scheduled class meetings
55 hours (5 for each of the live classes) working on online resources or doing set readings in preparation for or follow-up from the class.
38 hours working week-by-week on the reflective log book activities and completing the write-up
35 hours independent research for the essay, and writing the essay

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
1,500 word essay
1,500 word essay, plus reference list, on a title chosen from a list provided in the module handbook at the start of the module. The specific-length format is a deliberate challenge to help students learn about the important skills of writing concisely in science and meeting wordcounts in a professional context, so the wordcount for this item will be a fixed upper limit.

2: Reflective Diary weighted 50%
A reflective and creative weekly log-book exercise.
Students conduct independent reflections, personal research and other study activities throughout the module to supplement the module's week-by-week in-class material. They compile these activities into a reflective log that mirrors their engagement with the module's core content and their ability to extend that core content by their own thoughtful choice of extra activities or case-study research. The complete diary or log book will have a suggested word count of 2,500 words, plus illustrations and references, but this is likely to be broken down into a series of much shorter items in most students' submissions. Students will be guided through the process throughout the module.