Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours.
Seminars / Tutorials 4 Hours.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Poster presentation  20%
Semester Assessment Seminar presentation  20%
Semester Assessment Extended essay 3,500 words.  50%
Semester Assessment Poster abstract  10%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Evaluate and define the concept of palaeoglaciology and its global and scientific significance

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of palaeoglaciology and the fundamentals of ice sheet reconstruction

3. Identify key glacial landforms and their palaeoglaciological significance

4. Assess the landforms and sedimentary criteria applicable to interpreting Quaternary and older glacial successions

5. Evaluate the full range of glacier types and thermal regimes of former ice sheets

6. Demonstrate knowledge of the complexity of processes operating in a range of glacial environments

7. Appreciate the role of palaeoglaciology in ice mass reconstruction

8. Synthesize relevant literature, and produce a high-quality written report outlining a current scientific debate in palaeoglaciology

9. Design and produce a conference-style poster on a palaeoglaciology topic

10. Give an oral presentation explaining the aims, content and design of a poster

Brief description

The module will first introduce the students to the fundamentals of palaeoglaciology and the nature of the evidence from which former ice sheets may be reconstructed. Subsequent lectures will provide students with the full details of this evidence and explain how existing and former glaciers and their sedimentary products can be researched and interpreted.


  • Introduction: Defining palaeoglaciology: the nature of ice sheet beds; glaciers and their sedimentary products; glacial sediments in the geological record (MJH)
  • Debris distribution in glaciers: sediment textural characteristics; the importance of glacier thermal regime and tectonic setting (MJH)
  • Landforms of glacial erosion and palaeoglaciology (NFG)
  • Analysis of glacial sediments: Facies analysis; textural classification of poorly sorted sediments; genetic classification of glacial deposits; methods of analysis of glacial sequences (MJH)
  • Glacier landform - sediment associations 1: dry-based glaciers (NFG)
  • Glacier landform - sediment associations 2: wet based glaciers (NFG)
  • Glacier landform - sediment associations 3: polythermal glaciers (NFG)
  • Glaciomarine sedimentation: fjords: Sources of glaciomarine sediment: marine processes in fjords; patterns and rates of sedimentation; fjordal facies and facies associations; depositional features in fjords; case studies of East Greenland (Scoresby Sound) and Antartica (Ferrar Fjord, Lambert Glacier) (MJH)
  • Glaciomarine sedimentation - continental margins: Glacier-ocean interactions; sedimentation and erosion on glacier-influenced continental shelves and slopes; shelf facies associations; case study of the evolution of the Antartic continental margin from offshore drilling and seismic surveying (MJH)
  • Reconstructing former glacier and ice sheets from glacial geomorphological and sedimentological evidence (NFG)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Designing poster presentation; producing and delivering oral seminar presentation; writing extended essay
Improving own Learning and Performance Researching, reading and synthesizing of literature for extended essay; time management skills; oral and written communication skills
Information Technology Producing poster presentation (PowerPoint); producing seminar presentation and visual aids (PowerPoint)
Problem solving Defining and designing poster presentation; producing seminar presentation
Research skills Defining and designing poster presentation; researching and writing extended essay; producing seminar presentation
Subject Specific Skills Increase in geographical and geological knowledge and awareness of contemporary issues in glaciology and palaeoglaciology

Reading List

Recommended Text
Benn, D.I. and Evans, D.J.A. (1998) Glaciers and Glaciation Arnold, London Primo search Bennett, M.R. and Glasser, N.F. (1996) Glacial Geology: Ice Sheets and Landforms John Wiley, Chichester Primo search Dowdeswell, J.A. & O'Cofaigh, C. (ed) (1990) Glacier influenced Sedimentation on high-latitude continental margins, Geological Society Special Publication Primo search Hambrey, M.J. (1994) Glacial Environments UCL Press Primo search Hambrey, M.J. and Alean, J. (2004) Glaciers Cambridge University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6