Module OSX-1003:
Earth, Climate & Evolution

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Margot Saher

Overall aims and purpose

1 To present the controlling factors that determine environmental change on geological time scales. 2. To examine the properties of the rocks of the earth and their use as evidence of environmental change. 3. To introduce basic geological paradigms and concepts for reconstruction of earth history. 4. To present the major events in the temporal evolution of the Earth's environment and their relation to biological evolution

Course content

An exploration of environmental change, including climate change, and its impacts on biological evolution on geological time scales. An introduction to the geological tools and techniques used to decipher and interpret the geological and fossil records. The module examines how the earth works: tectonics, climate, the sedimentary cycle, sea level change. It begins with earth structure and plate tectonics and an introduction to climate and climate change. Then a survey of the materials of the earth – the formation and properties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and the evidence they provide for environmental change over geological time. The significance of the fossil record and its importance for understanding evolution. Major events in earth history: e.g. its origin, the origin of life, evolution of bacteria and multicellular organisms, significant biological changes from the late Precambrian to the Quaternary, major climate and eustatic events in geological history, etc. There is emphasis on Quaternary changes - climatic cycles and anthropogenic impacts - since these still resonate in the present day environment.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Basic knowledge based on directly taught programme; basic understanding of geological paradigms, concepts and principles; basic ability to use geological materials and evidence in the laboratory and field to formulate and test hypotheses on environmental change and biological evolution; basic knowledge of climate and climate change

good

Good knowledge based on directly taught programme; good understanding of geological paradigms, concepts and principles and their application; good ability to use geological materials and evidence in the laboratory and field to formulate and test hypotheses on environmental change and biological evolution; good knowledge of climate and climate change

excellent

Excellent knowledge based in part on wider reading; excellent understanding of geological paradigms, concepts and principles and their application; excellent and creative ability to use and to integrate geological materials and evidence in the laboratory and in the field to formulate and test hypotheses on environmental change and biological evolution

Learning outcomes

    1. Understand how environment and climate have changed in the geological and recent past and how this contributes to the debate on environmental issues and future climate change
    1. Make simple observations in the laboratory and field to identify rock types, geological processes and geological history
    1. Understand how geological, climatic and eustatic events influence biological evolution and human activity
    1. Understand the essential properties of the major rock types of the earth and the processes that form them
    1. Use geological material and evidence in the laboratory to formulate and test hypotheses about ancient environments and geological history
    1. Understand the principle processes which govern the earth's environment on various temporal and spatial scales
    1. Synthesise and evaluate geological evidence to identify the main events in the physical, chemical and biological evolution of the earth
    1. Understand and apply geological concepts and principles, within a plate tectonics paradigm, to interpret the geological record

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Stratigraphic Palaeontology 20
Exam 60
Rocks and Minerals Practical 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Private study

168
Lecture

2 one-hour lectures per week

20
Practical classes and workshops

2 three-hour practical sessions

6
Fieldwork

2 three-hour field trips

6

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)

Resources

Resource implications for students

Field work clothes needed for field trips

Reading list

Earth by Press and Siever

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: