BA Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG20352
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Course structure

Week 1 Glaciers - Introduction (1 hr)
Glacier dynamics (1 hr)SEMINAR
Week 2 Glaciers and meltwater (1 hr )
Periglacial environments (1 hr) SEMINAR
Week 3 Glacial erosion, sediment transport & deposition (1.5 hrs)
Introduction to fieldtrip (0.5 hr) LAB CLASS Field trip skills (2 groups)
Week 4 Glacial geomorphology - upland environments (1 hr)
Glacial geomorphology - lowland environments (1 hr)
Fieldtrip (6 hrs) - 2 trips run in 2 separate groups (wks 4 & 5)
Week 5 Fieldtrip (6 hrs) - 2 trips run in 2 separate groups (wks 4 & 5)
LAB CLASS Field trip follow-up (groups 1 and 2)
Week 6 Study Week
Week 7 Glaciers & erosion - theory and case studies (2 hrs) LAB CLASS
Week 8 Reconstructing ELAs = methods (2 hrs) LAB CLASS
Week 9 Reconstructing ELAs = modeling (2 hrs) Computer Cluster
Week 10 Study week
Week 11
Week 12 Revision Session


This course will examine glacial and periglacial processes and landforms. The course will examine glacial and periglacial processes in modern-day settings and will show how this knowledge can be used to reconstruct past glacial and periglacial environments with reference to examples from around the world. Glacial & periglacial environments are of major importance for understanding and reconstructing modern and past climatic and environmental change.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should understand:

- the significance of glacial and periglacial processes as a major component of global environmental change
- the processes leading to the development of glacial/ periglacial sediments and landforms
- the importance of glacial/ periglacial sediments and landforms for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction
- The glacial history of the British Isles and its significance in climate reconstruction and to present day landscapes and resources

During the course, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

- critical evaluation of scientific evidence
- research strategy and problem solving
- scientific writing, style and philosophy
- recognise the place of specialised knowledge within wider contexts of global change
- geomorphological mapping/ glacial sedimentology and associated field and laboratory techniques

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit is delivered via a mix of lectures, seminars and field/lab-based teaching. The lectures will provide essential background knowledge and theoretical training. The one-day field-class will examine glacial sediments and landforms and develop a range of important field skills to complement the theoretical knowledge obtained in the lectures.

The course unit will be supported by electronic resources including:
Extensive material on Blackboard, including selected reading material, reading lists and all powerpoint slides, notes and FAQs relating to the assessment.
Electronic journals available through the John Rylands University Library
Bibliographic programs like Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar available through Manchester University IT

Assessment methods

This course unit will be examined by a 2-hr examination (? of final marks) and an essay (? of final marks). The 2-hour unseen exam will take place in May. The essay will be based around topics and themes covered in the field trip and must not exceed 3,000 words and is to be submitted before Easter.


Feedback in a number of ways to help you to improve your future performance:

Interactive activities within lectures (oral, whole-class)
Regular surgeries in consultation hours (oral, one-to-one)
Brief comments on exam scripts (written, one-to-one)
Detailed comments on coursework essays (written, one-to-one)
Responding to issues raised through e-mail (electronic, one-to-one)

Recommended reading

Note there is no specific course text.

Benn and Evans (2010) and Bennett and Glasser (2009) are probably the most useful all-round texts for glaciers. However, any of the following textbooks provide good background for the course:

Ballantyne, C.K. and Harris, C. (1994) The periglaciation of Great Britain. Cambridge: CUP.
Benn, D.I. and Evans, D.J.A. (2010) Glaciers and glaciation. Arnold: London. 2nd Edition.
Bennett, M.R. & Glasser, N.F. (2009) Glacial geology: ice sheets and landforms. Chichester: Wiley. 2nd Edition.
French, H.M. (1996) The periglacial environment. Harlow: Longman
Knight, P. (1999) Glaciers. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes
Hambrey, M. (1994) Glacial Environments. London: UCL Press
Nesje, A., & Dahl, S.O. (2000) Glaciers and environmental change. London: Arnold
Paterson, W.S.B. (1994) The Physics of Glaciers. (3rd Edition). Oxford: Pergamon.
Slaymaker, O. and Kelly, R.E.J. (2007) The cryosphere and global environmental change. Blackwell.

Useful web resources

Glaciers online (
Google Scholar (
Humanities Faculty - Studies Skills (
JSTOR Digital Archive (
Scopus (
Web of Science (
World Glacier Inventory (
World Glacier Monitoring Service (

Key Journals

Annals of Glaciology, Boreas, Geografiska Annaler, Journal of Glaciology, Journal of Quaternary Science, Nature, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Quaternary Research, Quaternary Science Reviews, Science.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Fieldwork 8
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 4

Additional notes

The course covers glacial and periglacial environments, processes and landforms. The course will include introductory glaciology and the basics of upland and lowland glacial geomorphology. This will provide the basis for reconstructing past glacial and periglacial environments. The theoretical aspects will be combined with a one-day field visit to a classic glacial site in NW England. Two separate trips will be run - students will attend one (c. 25 students each trip). The lectures and field trip will be supplemented by seminars/lab classes.

Comprises of Lectures and Seminars. Please refer to course content information for further details.

Tuesday 2-4pm, University Place, Room 1.218 AND Seminar, Thursday 10-12noon, Dover Street, Room O.1.6

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