Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Earth System Science DUMF1043

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 1 (SCQF level 7)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The Earth is a complex system of interacting reservoirs (crust, mantle and core - the geosphere), and superficial reservoirs (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere). This course introduces students to Earth's major systems, both now and in the past, and examines Earth's history and environment by considering the fundamental processes which determine the general functioning of the Earth as a system.


Each week will normally consist of: 1 hour lecture, 1 hour tutorial, and 2 workshop/lab/field work.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements


Recommended Entry Requirements


Excluded Courses






Written Assignment: Students will write an essay examining one of three set questions (50%).

Written Exam: Written exam (50%).

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the systems approach to Earth science. This will include terminology, system states descriptions and components, feedbacks, biochemical cycles and timescales, and will lead to a sound understanding of the fundamental processes (geological, atmospheric, oceanic, etc.) which determine the Earth's environment.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain how the Earth functions as a system;

■ Outline the key scientific principles that lie behind at least three of the Earth's systems;

■ Describe the geological and astronomical forces that play a major role in transformation of the Earth's environments;

■ Demonstrate an awareness of the vast timescales associated with most natural systems, and articulate the significance of these in understanding anthropogenic influences on these systems

■ Develop a range of interpretative skills, including the critical analysis of scientific information.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.