Environments of the Past introduces students to some of the science-based techniques that can used to reconstruct and examine past environmental change over the last 25,000 years or so. In Semester 1, the emphasis is on reconstructing past environments using palaeoecological indicators, including botanical (e.g. pollen) and zoological (e.g. invertebrate) techniques. These will be studied against natural and human-induced environmental processes and forcing mechanisms that cause environments to change through time. Specific topics to be covered include: lake and peat deposits as archives of environmental change, palaeoecological theory, late glacial and Holocene environmental changes, chironomid palaeoecology, radiocarbon dating. Most of these topics have practical exercises linked to them.
In semester 2, the emphasis is on reconstructing past environments using other indicators alongside the broader development of the subject of Quaternary science. Some of these topics have practical exercises linked to them.