Environmental Geoscience BSc

Quaternary Geoscience EARTH4077

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 30
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The Quaternary is a period of profound global changes both on land and in the oceans, including the alternation of glacial and interglacial periods, expansion and contractions of deserts, and high volumes of sediment delivery to the oceans. During this course, students will explore some of the events that occurred in the Quaternary, focusing on the methods used to quantify them and study their evolution through the application of numerical models. The course includes a residential field class to develop students' skills in data collection and landform observations. 


Four classes per week for 3 weeks (2 hr lecture and 1 hr lab per class). 8-day residential UK-based field class.

Excluded Courses



Written exam (40%), numerical modelling exercise (30%), geomorphological map and notebook in the field (30%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

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


Course Aims

The aim of this course is to provide the students with an understanding of Quaternary landscape dynamics and specific training to be able to interpret the landscape in the field. Through the interpretation and discussion of datasets and numerical modelling, the student will learn to identify geomorphological features in the landscape and simulate their evolution, utilizing appropriate software.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Explain the dynamics through which landscapes have evolved during the Quaternary.

■ Identify the global changes typical of the Quaternary and describe their possible causes.

■ Discuss and apply to case-studies the quantitative methods used to investigate the Quaternary.

■ Process and interpret digital and field landscape data using numerical modelling software

■ Produce a geomorphological map of an area, using aerial photos and field evidence.

■ Critically discuss some of the key debates in Quaternary Science research.  

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.