ESC-30006 - Glaciers and Glacial Geomorphology
Coordinator: Peter G 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 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations

Description for 2022/23

This straightforward module explores how glaciers work, how they affect the landscape, and how they fit into the environmental context of Earth's surface processes and history. The module gives students the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific field of geography: the study of glaciers and glacial landscapes. The module is suitable for any student with some background in Physical Geography and does not assume any prior expertise in glacial topics.
The module does not require any specialist numerical skills, and begins with a broad-based introduction that will allow students from different backgrounds to quickly reach an appropriate level of understanding of the key issues at the start of the module. The module is organised as a 12-step program with lectures, online resources and student activities coordinated to help students work through the module in a clear and well-organised way.
The main themes of the module 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. 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.

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. The aims of the module are to enable students to develop: their knowledge and understanding of the principles, theory, and practice of glaciology and glacial geomorphology; their knowledge and understanding of specific 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 glaciological and geomorphological 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 concepts in geography: 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
quickly evaluate complex questions about glacial phenomena, and present concise but well-evidenced written answers to those questions: 2
describe in detail, explain, and illustrate with reference to specific geographical examples the characteristics of glaciers, the ways in which glaciers interact with other components of the global environmental system and the ways in which they affect landforms and landscapes: 1,2

Study hours

24 hours scheduled synchronous class activity
48 hours working on core online resources (includes preparation for both assessments)
24 hours completion of coursework essay
24 hours completion of end-of-course exercise

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 reference list, incorporating illustrations as appropriate, and following the Geography House Style rules. A selection of titles will be offered in the module handbook, from which students must choose one. Submission will be online through the VLE.

2: Exercise weighted 50%
Take-home exercise, maximum wordcount 2000 words
A wordcount-limited exercise (2000 words maximum) comprising a series of questions that draw together themes from the module and require short-to-medium length answers. The questions will be released in the form of a workbook at the end of the core teaching period (ie before the Christmas vacation) and students will have a deadline during the exam period in January. Students will be expected to attempt all the questions. Questions (and answers) may be expected to include text, data and/or illustrations. An example workbook will be provided at the start of the module to help students prepare.