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Module OSX-4022:
Sedimentary Environments

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Jaco Baas

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To provide a foundation and conceptual framework in which to understand fluvial, coastal and deep marine environments, including intrinsic and extrinsic processes operating within such systems.
  2. To understand the main hydrodynamic and sedimentary processes operating within and characterising the channel, floodplain, coastal and marine environments.
  3. To provide an overview of the external (climate change, human activity, tectonics and base-level change) and internal controls on river systems and examine the associated river responses at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
  4. To present the climatic and oceanographic controls on open coast and deep sea sediments and sedimentary environments.
  5. To introduce students to the current debates and literature in this field and discuss the relevant application to present-day management of fluvial and marine environments.

Course content

This module takes a catchment to marine basin approach, focusing on riverine, coastal and deep marine environments. The module will provide a foundation and conceptual framework in which to understand river and marine systems, environmental change and geochronologies. Response to climate change, human activity, tectonics and base-level change during the Quaternary will be explored, along with developing an understanding of both intrinsic and extrinsic processes operating within these different but connected environments. The module will examine sediments within these environments, which are important components of key dynamic, biogeochemical and ecological systems, and have major socio-economic significance. This module examines the origin, controls, and processes that determine the properties, transport and deposition of sediments in rivers, shallow water environments (e.g. beaches, barriers, deltas, tidal flats), continental shelf and slope environments, and the deep ocean basins. The module will take both an applied and scholarly approach to the subject, introducing the students to the current debates and literature in the field.

Assessment Criteria


Good knowledge of the key concepts. Presentation of appropriate examples to illustrate elements of the directly taught programme. Good ability to describe and explain the core subject matter. Limited evidence of reading beyond the taught material. Good understanding of the multidisciplinary subject matter, with a good level of critical evaluation.


Clear understanding and deep knowledge of the key concepts, with evidence of thorough reading around the subject. Deep ability to integrate the multidisciplinary subject matter. Deep understanding and ability to critically evaluate the subject matter. Very high standard of presentation.


Excellent understanding, wide and thorough knowledge of the key concepts. Evidence of thorough reading, with excellent appreciation of recent research developments and creative potential to develop research ideas. Excellent ability to integrate multidisciplinary subject matter. Detailed understanding and explanation of concepts and principles. Critical evaluation, with well-reasoned opinion. Elegant and flowing presentation, with flair for the subject.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the long-term dynamics of river systems.

  2. Understand the controls operating within fluvial systems and be able to comprehensively discuss how these condition river response to environmental change.

  3. Explain the features of ancient and modern braided and meandering river systems and sedimentary sequences.

  4. Critically analyse the literature.

  5. Understand how an interdisciplinary approach is needed to understand the nature of sediment deposits (ES

  6. Synthesise and summarise interdisciplinary information critically (ES

  7. Understand the concepts and principles which govern marine sedimentary environments (ES

    1. Understand physical and key biological controls of sedimentation in coastal and shelf seas, and deep sea environments, and the temporal and spatial scales of variation, and anthropogenic impacts (ES
  8. Demonstrate knowledge of the key concepts governing fluvial behaviour in a catchment.

  9. Make field observations to reconstruct ancient sedimentary environments (ES

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
OSX4022 Examination 50
1000 word essay on barrier islands 5
1000 word essay on Continental shelf environments 5
Online exercise on carbonates 5
Online exercise on deep-marine processes and environments 5
Fieldwork Anglesey Excursion Online test 25
Short Essay on Fluvial 5

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 16
Private study 174
Fieldwork 10

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: