Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hrs
Seminars / Tutorials 10 Hours. 10 x 1 hr


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written exam (seen paper)  50%
Semester Assessment In-course 2500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment Oral presentation of one key academic paper  10%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Re-sit failed exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission: In-course 2500 word essay (40%) Carry forward marks: Oral presentations (10%)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe the variety of proxy records that are available for reconstructing Quaternary climate change
  2. Critically assess the mechanisms proposed to explain Quaternary climate change
  3. Evaluate the importance of a particular piece of work in this field of research
  4. Synthesise the findings from different proxy records to form a coherent picture of Quaternary environments at various times over the last 130 kyr

Brief description

This module describes in detail various proxy records of climate change through the Quaternary, building upon the knowledge obtained in GG21110. The physical principles behind each technique used to decipher these records will be examined, in addition to the records of climate change that they provide. Emphasis is placed on geochemical records that give quantitative reconstructions of past climate, allowing exploration of the mechanisms proposed to explain Quaternary climate change.


Subject areas:

1. Polar and Non-Polar Ice Cores:
  • Dust records
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Accumulation rates
  • Trapped gases
2. Deep ocean cores:
  • Oxygen isotopes (more detail than GG21110)
  • Sea surface temperatures
3. Loess:
  • Magnetic susceptibility
  • Accumulation rates
  • Grain size
4. Terrestrial calcite:
  • Oxygen and carbon isotopes
  • Growth intervals
5. Lake Records:
  • Sr/Ca ratios
  • Oxygen and carbon isotopes
  • Biogenic silica production rates
6. Corals
  • Oxygen isotope records of temperature and salinity
  • Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca records of sea surface temperature

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Where appropriate, numerical datasets will support student learning.
Communication Students will develop their communication skills through both the oral presentation, and through seminars. Oral presentations will be 10 minutes in length, and assessment will be based on structure, content, clarity of presentation, timekeeping, and response to questions. Students will prepare for seminars by critical examination of academic papers/work and preparing a written summary of the work, prior to group seminar discussions of the paper and consideration of the wider context of the work and overarching themes.
Improving own Learning and Performance A large amount of independent study, through background reading, preparation for seminars, and independent research is required. A considerable degree of self-motivation is required from the students in order to contribute effectively to seminar work and to meet deadlines for continuous assessment. The development of learning and self management strategies is necessary in order to meet both the long- and short-term goals set by this course.
Information Technology Students will use IT to prepare their in-course assessed essay and presentation.
Problem solving Students will develop skills in problem solving through the study of a variety of different proxy records of climate change, learning to identify the different techniques which might be applied in different situations, and critically evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of their use in reconstructing Quaternary climates.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills and independent project work through the seminars, seminar preparations and related assessed written summaries, and through their preparation for the assessed in-course essay and seen-examination question.
Subject Specific Skills This course will enable the student to recognise and interpret proxy records of Quaternary climate change, and to critically analyse, synthesise and summarise the information available from these records. Students will demonstrate their ability to read, critically assess, discuss, and reference the work of others in an appropriate manner.
Team work Students will develop their team work skills through the seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 6