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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:20

Course Overview

This year-long core course is designed to give Joint Honours students an advanced introduction to the history, philosophy and methodology of the earth and environmental sciences.  The first part examines key conceptual debates and innovations.  Topics include: the discovery of 'deep time', the development of ideas about ice ages, the 'quantitative revolution' in physical geography post-1945, the importance of digital technologies and the influence of environmentalism.  The second part, designed to support students' own project work, addresses the implications for research: e.g., the possibilities and pitfalls of different qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Full Year Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Nicholas P. Spedding

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either BSc Archaeology-Geography (Studied) or BSc Geography-Geoscience (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to key debates, both past and present, on the nature and scope of the earth and environmental sciences. As such it provides essential background for study of physical geography/geosciences at an advanced level. Content will include key aspects of the history of the earth and environmental sciences (e.g., the discovery of "deep time", the development of ideas about ice ages, the impact of evolutionary theory, the quantitative revolution in physical geography post-1945, the importance of digital technologies, the influence of environmentalism). We relate these to important concepts used to structure explanation in the earth sciences (e.g., uniformitarianism, historical approaches vs. process studies, systems and models). The last third of the course addresses the implications for research (e.g., the possibilities and pitfalls of different qualitative and quantitative approaches).

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Computer Practical during University week s 31, 33 - 35, 39
  • 1 Lecture during University week s 8 - 18, 26 - 35, 39
  • 1 Seminar during University week s 9, 10, 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16, 17, 17, 18, 18
  • 1 Tutorial during University week 29
  • 1 Workshop during University week s 28, 30, 32

More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

Alternative Assessment

Presentation (50%)

Coursework (50%)

Alternative Resit Assessment

Resubmission of failed coursework components usually permitted, but with mark capped at CGS D3/9.  Contact course coordinator.

Formative Assessment

Essay plan exercise

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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