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: 1hr introductory lecture followed by 3hr self-directed practical.
Other Field exercise: 3hr field data collection exercise.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   'Open book' unseen exam  50%
Semester Assessment 500 word report on laboratory-based exercise  15%
Semester Assessment 1500 word report on fieldwork  35%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components  Resubmission of failed coursework component(s) and/or resit of failed end of semester examination. Marks for original passed components will be carried forward.  Marks for original passed components will be carried forward.  100%

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 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