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Unit information: The Earth System in 2021/22

Unit name The Earth System
Unit code GEOG20003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Dan Lunt
Open unit status Not open

GEOG10003 Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is concerned with understanding the components of the large-scale climate system: atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere, and the feedbacks and interactions between the systems. Through a series of lectures and practicals, the students will investigate the processes that influence the structure of each sphere of the climate system, and how they interact. The course will also provide an introduction to how and why we use climate models to inform our understanding of the climate system.

Aims: To introduce students to study of the mechanisms of natural climate and environmental variability, through an 'Earth System Science' approach, which stresses the complex interactions between the oceans atmosphere, ice sheets; biosphere, and how and why scientists model the climate system

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. outline the major inter-connectivity and feedbacks between the major components of the global Earth System as they relate to global climate change
  2. develop a critical understanding of methods used to model the climate system

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace
  • practicals; students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

Practical assessment: design a climate model (50% of total).

Take-home assessment at the end of the unit (50% of total)

Both assessments test all of the ILOs.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOG20003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.