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Reconstructing Environmental Change - ENV00081M

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Roland Gehrels
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

A field course in the Yorkshire Dales, mostly dealing with the glacial history of the area. There are three follow-up lab days where we analyse a core.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module will examine environmental changes during the Quaternary period (approximately the last 2.6 million years). A 5-day fieldtrip will take place in the Yorkshire Dales and along the west coast of England. The study of past environmental changes provides an opportunity to understand and use a range of palaeoenvironmental techniques, including analyses of foraminifera, pollen and diatoms. The module will also include reconstructing glacial environments and ice limits, karst hydrology, and sea-level changes. Field and laboratory work combined with analyses of the data will provide hands-on experience in interpreting past environmental changes.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Thematic field days in the Yorkshire Dales and on the coast, relating to a range of palaeoenvironments.
  • Appreciation of how knowledge of past sea-level change can be applied to inform predictions about the future.
  • Knowledge and hand-on practice of palaeoenvironmental techniques used in the reconstruction of past environments.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Palaeoenvironmental techniques
  • Field observation
  • Reading and synthesising primary scientific journal literature
  • Oral presentation skills

Other learning outcomes (if applicable)

  • Field-based sampling skills
  • Laboratory skills, in particular sediment description and micropalaeontological analysis


Task Length % of module mark
Field & Lab report
N/A 75
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 25

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Extended essay (3000 words)
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on the summative report will be delivered individually and on a class basis (standard 4 week turnaround). Feedback on the presentations will be delivered in general terms during the fieldtrip and more specific on an individual basis after the trip, using the standard feedback form. Feedback will also be given during the practical sessions.

Indicative reading

Waltham, T. and Lowe, D. (ed.) 2013. Caves and Karst of the Yorkshire Dales. British Cave Research Association.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.