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Unit information: Physical Geography in 2017/18

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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. Monteiro
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 engaging introduction and foundation to the main elements of the Physical Geography courses taught in later years, via an integrated and progressive suite of lectures under four themes:

1) Climate and Climate Policy

2) Water

3) Changing Ice

4) Life on Earth.

Through these individual elements, 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.


  • To introduce students to fundamentals of the physical environment.
  • To introduce students to topical issues in Physical Geography in the 21st Century
  • To provide students with core technical and scientific skills in aspects of physical geography.

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:

  1. Identify and understand processes operating in different environments and over different time and space scales
  2. Identify and understand the stores and fluxes within different environments
  3. Describe the mechanisms by which different environmental/landscape processes take place
  4. Undertake simple calculations of fluxes, perform simple laboratory and computing experiments, write scientific reports, manipulate data and plot appropriate graphs.

Teaching details

Lectures and practicals

Assessment Details

  • 2 x 1 hour multiple choice exams (January, June) covering elements of the course taught in the relevant teaching block, with feedback on Exam 1 provided to the students provided before Exam 2 (70%). All learning outcomes are assessed
  • 2 summative coursework practicals (30% total), one in each Teaching Block

The practicals are designed to provide core technical skills in physical geography (laboratory, experimental, computing, modelling, data analysis, calculations, report-writing). Feedback will be provided on both practicals. Attendance at all practicals is compulsory and submission of all practical work is mandatory. Credit points will be withheld for non-attendance or non-submission without a valid EC.

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.