MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Mediterranean Quaternary Landscapes

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG60132
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Provides students with an understanding of Quaternary climate and landscape change within the context of case studies from the Mediterranean region.


  • To appreciate the significance of the Mediterranean region for understanding the impacts of environmental change
  • To provide a detailed understanding of the nature, causes and impacts of Mediterranean environmental change during the Quaternary
  • To assess, critically, the evidence for environmental change preserved in a range of Mediterranean environments
  • To consider Quaternary environments and landscape dynamics in the Mediterranean region within the broader context of long-term changes in global geography

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the main ideas which seek to explain the causes of Mediterranean landscape change during the Quaternary;
  • Appreciate the diversity and complexity of long-term records of environmental and landscape change and their contribution to our understanding of Quaternary environments;
  • Understand the major linkages between long-term climate change (including abrupt climate change) and the response of ecosystems and landscapes with reference to case studies from the Mediterranean region. 

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered via lectures and seminar discussions with a wide range of case studies. The style will be interactive with class discussion, consolidation sessions and revision exercises. The web pages for the Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology research group provide a valuable list of online resources:

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Problem solving
Written communication
Understanding context of global climate change; climate science; geomorphology; sedimentology; geological hazards; data analysis; critical thinking Knowledge from this course is directly relevant for positions at a wide range of institutions in the private and public sector, including: major sand and gravel aggregate companies; environmental consultancies; major global consultancies (in climate risk departments); in the water resources sector; the oil and mineral sector; education at a range of levels.

Assessment methods


Coursework essay (100%) – MSc level

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways:

  • verbal feedback through discussion in lecture classes and seminars
  • verbal feedback on any course unit issue through consultation hours or by appointment;
  • detailed written feedback on coursework

Recommended reading

Reading on Ice Age Environments:

Anderson, D.E., Goudie, A.S., Parker, A.G. (2013) Global Environments through the Quaternary: Exploring Environmental Change. Oxford University Press (Second Edition).
Lowe, J.J. and Walker, M.J.C. (2006) Reconstructing Quaternary Environments. London, Pearson Education Limited (Second Edition).
Williams, M.A.J., Dunkerley, D.L., DeDekker, P., Kershaw, A.P. and Chappell, J. (1998) Quaternary Environments. London, Arnold (Second Edition).

Reading on Quaternary Ice Age Environments in the Mediterranean:

Woodward, J.C. (2009) (Editor) The Physical Geography of the Mediterranean. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Key Journals
Boreas, Geology, Science, Nature, Journal of Quaternary Science, Quaternary Research, Quaternary Science Reviews, Global and Planetary Change, Geoarchaeology: An International Journal

Recommended reading with commentaries will be provided for each topic via Blackboard.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 122

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
PHILIP Hughes Unit coordinator
William Fletcher Unit coordinator
Matthew Tomkins Unit coordinator

Additional notes

1) Ice Age Geography: An Introduction
2) Climate change during the Quaternary Ice Age
3) Reconstructing the Ice Age past
4) Geochronology: dating the past
5) Terrestrial records of change
6) The Mediterranean marine record
7) Explosive volcanism in the Mediterranean
8) Rapid ecosystem change in the Mediterranean
9) Pleistocene rivers in the Mediterranean
10) Revision session

+ 2 study weeks

Teaching will comprise a weekly 2 hour class with a 1 hour seminar.

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