BSc Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG21512
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Have you ever travelled to, or walked within, a new landscape and wondered why it looks the way it does? Have you stumbled up steep mountainous slopes, which are adjusting to the loss of the support of ice that once pushed back against them? Have you ever been to a desert, or sandy coastline, and trudged up a steep sand dune, where your feet slide backwards almost as much as they move upwards, and wondered how all that sand got (and stopped) there?


This course explores why landscapes looks as they do and what processes have operated to make that so. Geomorphology involves both a study of modern-day processes and an appreciation of past (and on-going) processes acting over a long period of time, in order to understand the degree to which landscapes and landforms are the product of a particular sequence of events. We will explore a range of erosional and depositional landforms and the processes that created them; some of which remain contested. Topics will be drawn from: action of wind (atmospheric processes), water (hydrological processes), ice (glacial processes), plants and animals (biogeomorphological processes), gravity (hillslope processes), and how these processes interact to create the landscapes we observe today. We will explore not only terrestrial landscapes, but also the extra-terrestrial. You will take part in a desk-based virtual fieldtrip to examine the geomorphology of California.


  1. Develop an understanding of geomorphology both as a series of historical events and processes, and of the current operation of processes.
  2. Gain a knowledge of erosional and depositional processes relating to a range of landscapes, including glacial and aeolian environments
  3. Develop an understanding of landscapes and landsystems involving a combination of processes interacting with one another.
  4. Acquire and develop scientific skills relating to the study of geomorphology, in the field and through remote sensing: critical analysis, interpretation and discussion of landforms and processes.

Teaching and learning methods

Blackboard Discussion Board Space and/or Google Jamboards to share and discuss information.

Scheduled office hours for additional drop-ins.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Ability to describe and explain key landforms produced by geomorphological agents (ice, wind, gravity, water) and the combination of processes relating to these geomorphological environments.

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to engage with key debates within geomorphology.

Practical skills

  • An appreciation of the benefits of field observations and measurements in geomorphology, and the role of remote sensing as a geomorphological tool.
  • Familiarity and confidence with methods used to understand landforms and geomorphological processes.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Developed abilities in information collation, critical reading, evaluation and analysis.
  • Developed numeric analytical skills including use of spreadsheets.
  • Experience of using Google Earth to observe and identify landforms and landscapes.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Confidence interpreting data and sources.
Group/team working
Working as a team to discuss information and during laboratory classes exploring the virtual field course.
Oral communication
Discussions in class will develop your confidence and ability in speaking and presenting.
Problem solving
The field trip tasks require you to apply your knowledge to solve problems of observing and interpreting new sites.
Guided reading and encouragement to find wider sources will make you an independent researcher for life, knowing where to go to find reliable information and how to assess its validity.
Written communication
You will develop your skills here your coursework essay and examination short answers and essays.

Assessment methods

Coursework Essay [50%]

Examination of two hours, with short answers and an essay [50%]

Formative components:

Virtual Fieldclass Workbook.


Feedback methods

Feedback to students on coursework via Turnitin for coursework.

Feedback to students on Blogpost via Blackboard area.

Feedback orally to students in class about discussion points and case studies.

Feedback from students to students in class and in discussion forum.

Feedback from students to staff informally in class with post-it note classroom assessment questions twice in the semester, anonymous box and formally through the end unit questionnaires.

Recommended reading

Core texts:

Bierman, P. R., Montgomery, D. R. (2013) Earth’s dynamic surface. (Ch 1) In Beirman, P. R., Montgomery, D. R. (eds) Key Concepts in Geomorphology. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. p 5-41 

Huggett, R. J. (2017) Part 1 Introducing landforms and landscapes. In Hugget R. J. (2017) Fundamental of Geomorphology 4th edition. Routledge, London. p 1-108.  The first four chapters set the scene really nicely. Note is it the 3rd edition (from 2011) that is available as an ebook

Summerfield. M. A. (1991) Ch1 Approaches to Geomorphology. In Summerfield, M. A. (1991) Global Geomorphology. Prentice Hall, Harlow. p 3-30.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 8
Seminars 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Anna Hughes Unit coordinator
Abigail Stone Unit coordinator

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