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Module DXX-1005:
Earth Systems and Processes

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Graham Bird

Overall aims and purpose

This is a foundation module, which introduces and develops the key concepts relating to the study of the physical environment. The module focuses on study of earth systems and the connectivity of earth processes occurring within the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and their links to the biosphere. The module introduces major fields of study within the geosciences (e.g., meteorology, geomorphology, hydrology, climatology) and also provides an introduction to key geological concepts and processes. The module is suitable for those with or without science backgrounds.

Course content

Key module topics will include:

  1. Earth systems and earth processes: introduction and key concepts
  2. The Geosphere: key geological concepts and processes.
  3. Weathering processes
  4. The atmosphere: global and regional atmospheric circulation
  5. Atmosphere-Ocean interaction: influence on climate, ENSO & NAO cycles & cyclones
  6. The hydrosphere: introduction to the hydrological cycle, run-off generation & basic principles of hydrology.
  7. Glacial environments: introduction to ice-mass description, ice mass movement and glacial geomorphology.
  8. The biosphere: introduction to soils
  9. The biosphere: introduction to biogeography
  10. Introduction to global biogeochemical cycles: the Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles.

Assessment Criteria


Grade D- to C+ Students Demonstrate a basic understanding of the Earth's systems and their processes based on individual components of the directly taught programme but showing little evidence of supplementary reading or original information and lacking critical analysis. No major omissions or inaccuracies in factual understanding.


Grade B- to B+ Students demonstrate a good understanding of the Earth's systems and processes, including an ability to appreciate simple linkages between the different components included in the module and some evidence of enquiry and extension of a knowledge base beyond the directly taught programme. No major omissions or inaccuracies in factual understanding and demonstrates a good grasp of theoretical and conceptual elements. Evidence of good integration of information from a variety of sources.


Grade A- and above Students demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Earth's systems and processes, including an ability to appreciate complex linkages between the different components included in the module and evidence of enquiry and a knowledge base that extends well beyond the directly taught programme. Thorough and critical understanding of key underlying concepts is demonstrated. No factual errors are evident.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of temporal and spatial scales in relation to the study of earth processes and systems.

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of theories, paradigms, concepts and principles of physical processes within the Earth and its atmosphere.

  3. Demonstrate an accurate understanding of endogenic and exogenic earth processes.

  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the inter-relationship of processes occurring within earth systems.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CLASS TEST Online test 1 10
CLASS TEST Online Test 2 15
CLASS TEST Class Test 15
EXAM Examination 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy


13x1 and 8x2 hour lectures


2x3 hour laboratory practicals 1x2 hour film showing

Private study

Private and guided self-study


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: