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GAP1002 - Environmental Change: Past, Present and Future

Module Content

This module provides an introduction to the principles and techniques used to reconstruct past environments and detect environmental change. Only when the causes of past environmental variability are understood, will it be possible to anticipate or forecast possible variations in the future. As more detailed and reliable records of past environmental changes are established, the possibility of identifying the causes and mechanisms of climate change and the impact of human activity is increased. Past environmental studies provide perspectives on landscape and climate variability over the last 2.6 million years (The Quaternary Period). In this module, the underlying theories and ecological principles that enable the interpretation of information from ancient deposits are described. The principal dating methods and their limitations are discussed and case studies are used to show how some techniques have been applied to build up a picture of how and why the environment has changed through time. The intention is that the module will also provide an understanding of many of the key principles and techniques that are explored in more depth at higher-level modules.

Module Objectives

To understand the relevance of palaeoenvironmental studies.
To provide a basic knowledge of palaeoenvironmental principles.
To become familiar with relevant geological timescales (i.e. the Quaternary Period).
To understand how past environments and climates can be reconstructed.


Dr Gill Plunkett (Module Coordinator)
Dr Maarten Blaauw

Skills taught

Synthesis of information.
Written self-expression.
Proficiency in data presentation and interpretation.
Use of the University's Library resources.
Use of computers for web-based searches.
Management of work time.


 Practicals (5)
 Class Test