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Unit information: Physical Geography in 2014/15

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Unit name Physical Geography
Unit code GEOG15010
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Michaelides
Open unit status Not open



All other units in Year 1 BSc/MSci Single Honours Geography

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit aims to provide an introduction and foundation to the main elements of the physical environment prefaced by an introduction and background to the development of Physical Geography as a discipline. Through the individual elements (Atmosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Cryosphere, Biosphere and Oceans), the course will present the fundamental principles necessary for an understanding of the physical environment, both in terms of the separate elements and of the environment as a whole. Initials in brackets denote the lecturers.


  • To introduce students to fundamentals of the physical environment.
  • To bring all students up to the same level of knowledge in physical environmental process as a prerequisite to physical geography courses in year 2.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  • Identify and understand processes operating in different environments and over different time and space scales
  • Identify and understand the stores and fluxes within different environments
  • Describe the mechanisms by which different environmental/landscape processes take place

Teaching details

Lectures and practicals

Assessment Details

  • 2 hour multiple choice exam covering all six elements of the course (70%). All learning outcomes are assessed
  • 3 assessed coursework practicals (10% each): These assess the learning outcomes in the Oceans, Hydrology and Glaciology sections of the course.

Reading and References

  1. Ahrens, C.D. (1999) ‘Meteorology Today’ (6th ed), Brooks-Cole, Pacific Grove, California.
  2. Benn, D.I. and D.J.A. Evans (1998) ‘Glaciers and Glaciation’, Arnold, London. (Chapter 3: Glaciers and Meltwater).
  3. Holden, J. (ed.) (2008) An Introduction to Physical Geography and the Environment (2nd Ed.). Prentice Hall, London.
  4. Jones, J.A.A. (1997) Global Hydrology: Processes, resources and environmental management. Longman, Essex.
  5. Smithson, P., Addison, K. and Atkinson, K. (3rd ed.) (2002) Fundamentals of the Physical Environment. Routledge, London.
  6. Whittaker, R.J. (1998) ‘Island Biogeography: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation’, Oxford University Press, Oxford.