Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Sedimentary Environments
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 8 x 2hrs
Practical Laboratory exercise: 3hr self-directed practicals.
Other Field exercise: 3hr field data collection exercise.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Online Exam  'Open book' unseen exam  50%
Semester Assessment Lab Exercise  1500 word report on fieldwork  35%
Semester Assessment Fieldwork report  500 word report on laboratory-based exercise  15%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary assessment - fieldwork report  Resubmission of failed coursework component (s) and/or resit of failed end of semester examination. Marks for original passed components will be carried forward.  35%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary assessment - lab exercise  15%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Supplementary examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. outline the fundamental controls on sedimentary processes (erosion, transport, deposition);
2. apply terminology, concepts and methods of sediment observation, description, classification and interpretation in both laboratory and field settings;
3. assess and interpret the main changes to sedimentary environments in field settings, or from published accounts of modern or ancient sediments;
4. evaluate the relative importance of natural factors (e.g. climate, tectonics, sea level) and human activities in influencing sedimentary environments.

Brief description

The module will examine sedimentary environments worldwide, and will include overviews of: (i) weathering/denudation, sediment delivery and sediment deposition in different settings globally; (ii) the processes of sediment transport and deposition that lead to generation of sedimentary structures and successions in specific (mainly terrestrial) sedimentary environments; (iii) laboratory and field techniques for the analysis and interpretation of sediments and sedimentary successions; (iv) the main natural and human controls leading to temporal and spatial changes in sedimentary environments. Laboratory and fieldwork exercises will provide opportunities to apply the concepts and techniques introduced in lectures to the analysis of 'real world' sediments and sedimentary environments.


1. Introduction to the module: context, concepts & techniques
2. Weathering, sediment delivery, & sedimentation concepts
3. Fluvial sedimentary environments
4. Glacial sedimentary environments
5. Glaciotectonic, paraglacial & periglacial sedimentary environments
6. Coastal & aeolian sedimentary environments
7. Volcanic sedimentary environments
8. New sedimentary environments: the Anthropocene & extraterrestrial

In addition, there will be laboratory sessions with self-directed learning exercises and a half-day local field trip.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Relatively simple equations will be presented during some lectures and students will be expected to apply these. Students will be expected to use descriptive statistical measures in their analyses of sediments (e.g. mean, median, mode etc).
Communication Students will be expected to read academic literature and to communicate their knowledge in laboratory and fieldwork reports and exam answers using appropriate written scientific language. Oral communication skills will be develop through team work (see below).
Improving own Learning and Performance Self-directed laboratory exercises will provide opportunities for improved performance at an early stage in the module. Students will be encouraged to improve background knowledge through independent reading from reading lists. Students will be encouraged to be aware of their own learning styles, personal preferences and needs, and barriers to learning.
Information Technology Students will need to be familiar with basic word processing software, and will be expected to research and present data and information using IT sources.
Personal Development and Career planning Sediment description and analysis is a fundamental skill for physical geographers, earth and environmental scientists, and is commonly used in many environmental consultancy professions. The ability to communicate using appropriate scientific language is also a generic skill applicable to academic and consultancy settings.
Problem solving Students will be presented with problems relating to the nature and origin of sediments during lecture-based, laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Students will be expected to explore potential solutions to these problems based on material introduced through lectures, laboratory/field classes and independent reading
Research skills Students will develop expertise in a range of research methods, including planning and conducting research, and producing academic reports. These skills will be practiced and developed through laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Students will be expected to use journal/web-based sources appropriately and effectively.
Subject Specific Skills Application of specialised terminology, concepts and methods relevant to sedimentary environments.
Team work Some team work in small groups will form part of the laboratory and field exercises. Students will be expected play an active part in group activities.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Reading, H.G. (1996) Sedimentary Environments, Processes, Facies and Stratigraphy. 3rd Blackwell, Oxford Primo search
Recommended Text
Collison, J.D. and Thompson, D.B. (2004) Sedimentary Structures. Unwin Hyman, London Primo search Evans, D.J.A. and Benn, D.I. (2004) A practical guide to the study of glacial sediments. Arnold: London Primo search Miall, A, D. (1996) The geology of fluvial deposits: sedimentary facies, basin analysis, and petroleum geology. Springer, London Primo search Nichols, G. (2009) Sedimentology and Stratigraphy 2nd Blackwell, Oxford Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5