Non glaciated Quaternary environments GEOG4125

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will focus on the Quaternary (last 2.8 million years), important environmental changes that affected the lower latitudes of the planet, while, at higher latitudes, ice sheets were expanding and contracting. Using data-derived reconstructions, you will explore the mechanisms through which environmental changes occurring at the tropics greatly affected the global climate and the complex feedbacks from the biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, pedosphere, and anthrosphere.


Weekly, three-hours workshops, for five weeks

Requirements of Entry

Usually Geography at level 2 and Earth Science at level 1, although Earth Science at level 2 is recommended.

Excluded Courses





The summative assessment is an extended form of an 'illustrated abstract', where students will present, through the use of appropriate figures and concise text, spatial analyses of landforms and datasets from the literature to address one of the topics (to be chosen from a provided list).

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course aims at providing a synthesis of the environmental and geological changes in low latitudes terrestrial and marine systems during the Quaternary (last 2.8 million years), utilizing the most recent literature and available datasets to develop a critical understanding of the mechanism that drove global environmental changes and the complex feedbacks between the marine and terrestrial environments.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Describe the driving forces (internal vs external) of environmental changes during the Quaternary;

■ Describes the used of basics of sedimentological, geochemical, biological, geomorphological and archaeological data and their uncertainties covering the whole of the Quaternary

■ Describe and discuss the importance of geological events and environmnental changes for the evolution and migration of Hominides; 

■ Evaluate the importance of temporal (glacial vs interglacial) and spatial (northern vs southern hemisphere, local vs regional and global), the issue of up- or down-scaling data to understand environmental variability at different scales;

■ Quantitatively assess the importance of earth surface processes for the Quaternary evolution of soils.

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.