Environment and Landscape Change

A greater understanding of natural and human-induced environment and landscape changes is crucial in order for informed management practices to be applied.

In this respect the module adopts a palaeoecological approach and a range of case studies will be examined over the last 20 thousand years or so in order to get a handle on how environments and landscapes have changed in the past.

The module therefore adopts a palaeo approach to examine human-environment interactions and the processes causing environment and landscape change at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

The module is prefaced by introductory lectures that provide a general introduction to the triggers and forcing mechanisms – both natural and human-induced – that effect environmental and landscape change as well as some of the techniques and palaeo indicators that are used for its study.

The rest of the module will follow a thematic approach consisting of lectures dealing with topics relevant to specific types of environment and landscape change.

Typical topics include:

  • Catastrophic environmental and landscape changes including flooding associated with the Mediterranean-Ponto-Caspian sea corridors and connections
  • Catastrophic volcanism
  • Late glacial-Holocene climate change
  • The origin of agriculture in Southwest Asia and the Neolithic transition
  • The early Holocene Forest (Re-) advance and refugia debate
  • Holocene climate variability and civilization/societal collapse
  • Sub-recent and catchment-scale environmental changes

The module will include short assignment workshop sessions designed to assist students with choosing an extended essay topic and appropriate means of searching for literature.

Students will be encouraged to attend further individual meetings to clarify and focus the organisation of their chosen extended essay.

Key skills

Subject/discipline-specific skills:

  • To have a working knowledge of the main natural and human-induced forcing mechanisms and triggers that cause environmental change
  • To have a working knowledge of some of the palaeo indicators that can be used to reconstruct past environmental changes
  • The ability to describe and interpret palaeoecological and palaeoclimatological datasets to reconstruct environmental change

Generic and intellectual (thinking) skills:

  • The ability to retrieve, collate and interpret different sources of information in order to understand issues relating to Quarternary environmental change
  • The ability to summarise and synthesise relevant information
  • The ability to develop and put forward reasoned arguments in written form