Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 8 x 2hrs
Practical Laboratory exercise: 1hr introductory lecture followed by 3hr self-directed practical.
Other Field exercise: 3hr field data collection exercise.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Course work 1: A 2000 word report on laboratory-based practical and fieldwork exercises.  50%
Semester Assessment Course work 2: A 2000 word critical review essay.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed coursework component (s).  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the fundamental controls on sedimentary processes (erosion, transport, deposition).
  2. Understand sediment classification methods and apply these to sedimentary sequences.
  3. Evaluate the range of techniques for the analysis of modern sedimentary (terrestrial) environments in the field.
  4. Describe sediments and sedimentary sequences in a concise and scientific way.
  5. Assess the principal sedimentary environments and interpret sedimentary sequences with reference to published accounts of modern or ancient sediments.

Brief description

The course will examine terrestrial sedimentary environments by including: (i) a review of weathering and erosional processes; (ii) the fundamentals of flow and sediment transport mechanisms, and; (iii) sediment discrimination and classification. It will focus on alluvial, lacustrine, deltaic, coastal, aeolian, glacial and volcanic environments.


Lecture 1: Introduction. Historical context, key individuals and development of ideas in sedimentology.

Lecture 2: Formation and controls of weathering, including physical, chemical and biological processes; processes of sediment transport and deposition; accommodation space.

Lecture 3: Techniques for analysis of sediments; laboratory and fieldwork.

Lecture 4: Lithofacies, lithofacies models, architectural element analysis sequence stratigraphy.

Lectures 5 and 6: Alluvial sedimentation/environments; deltaic, lacustrine, coastal, estuarine environments; aeolian environments.

Lecture 7: Glacial sedimentation/environments (proglacial; ice-marginal; subglacial).

Lecture 8: Volcanic sedimentation/environments (debris flows, lahars); subglacial volcanic eruptions and jokulhlaups.

In addition there will be one practical class with self-directed learning exercises and a 1/2 day field course (local) to develop sedimentological field skills.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Some relatively simple equations will be presented during lectures and students will be expected to understand and to be able to use these. Students will use descriptive statistical measures in their analyses of sediments (e.g. mean, median, standard deviation, etc).
Communication Learners will be expected to read academic literature and to communicate their knowledge and ideas in the report (for the fieldwork and practical exercise) and essay. Learners will be encouraged to listen effectively.
Improving own Learning and Performance Learners will be encouraged to improve knowledge through independent reading from reading lists. Learners will be encouraged to be aware of their own learning styles, personal preferences and needs, and barriers to learning.
Information Technology Learners will need to be familiar with basic word processing and spreadsheet software (requires access to PC). Some more specialized software packages, based in MS Excel, will be used to in the sediments techniques section of the course. Learners will be expected to present information and data 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 these professions beyond University.
Problem solving The learner will identify and be presented with problems relating to the nature and origin of sediments during lecture-based, practical and fieldwork exercises. The learner will be expected to explore potential solutions to these problems based on material introduced through lectures, practical/ field classes and independent reading.
Research skills The learner will develop expertise in a range of research methods, plan and carry out research, and produce academically appropriate reports. These skills will be practised and developed through laboratory practicals and fieldwork. Learners will be expected to use journal /web-based sources appropriately and effectively.
Subject Specific Skills Sedimentary analysis of terrestrial depositional environments
Team work Some team work required where working in small groups during lectures and practicals or on field sedimentological techniques classes. Learners will be expected to contribute effectively to group activities and 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