Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
How to Build a Planet
Academic Year
Semester 1
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Welsh Medium equivalent
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Coursework Portfolio  1000 Words  60%
Semester Assessment Group poster  (500 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Coursework Portfolio  1000 Words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Individual Poster  (500 words)  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe the shape and internal structure of the planet, and the techniques used to study our 3D Earth.

2. Demonstrate understanding of plate tectonics, including the nature of plate boundaries, mechanisms of movement, and associated geological hazards (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami).

3. Understand the fundamental processes of exchange between the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere including atmospheric and oceanic circulations and the hydrological cycle.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and controls of changes in climate at a variety of scales.

Brief description

This module will introduce students to global interactions between the solid and fluid components of the Earth system. It will explore the characteristics and driving mechanisms of the cycles of rock and water, and the circulation of the atmosphere and oceans, which are continually shaping this dynamic planet.The module aims to build an understanding of the geological processes that create the solid Earth and its surficial landscape, alongside the processes which generate and control weather and climate.
It will provide the basic framework for understanding and investigating the earth-atmosphere system, the dynamics of global change and its implications for life on earth.


The module will be in three parts:

1.The lithosphere: This section will explore the origin of the Earth and solar system and the shape and structure of our planet as well as the mechanisms of plate tectonics and associated hazards. It will also introduce the supercontinent cycle, and interactions between continents, climate and sea level on a geological timescale.

2.The atmosphere: This section will explore the basics of solar radiation, atmospheric energy and the global heat budget and interactions with key processes in the atmospheric portion of the hydrological cycle -evaporation, cloud formation and precipitation. It will also explore global atmospheric circulation and its influence on climate.

3.The hydrosphere: This section will explore the stores and pathways of the hydrological cycle, including ocean circulation, global runoff and groundwater as well as related water resource issues and the impact of environmental change.

Each section will be supported by active learning through a related practical session which will develop skills in computer modelling and science communication.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will be required to produce a group revision poster designed to aid their peer group revision process. Written, visual and oral communication will therefore be developed in these activities.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will need to adapt to a more independent and self-directed learning style to complete the practical sessions. Practical assessment components will also require sharing resources with other students on the course, fostering team-working skills which will benefit their adaptability and resilience in future group-working and group-learning environments, as well as being valuable soft skills for their wider life and career beyond the university.
Information Technology Students will be required to interpret the outputs of a computer model for one practical exercise, and to use digital software to complete a revision poster for an assessment. Both these activities will develop computer literacy. Further reading is an integral component of student-directed learning, requiring competence in finding and engaging with relevant sources online and via library-based digital search engines.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning while completing one assessment component (the revision poster) and a mock exam will also encourage this, but reflection will not be formally assessed. Modelling and helping to develop the understanding of peers are both skills that are relevant to future careers. The ability to communicate using appropriate scientific language and work as part of a team aregeneric and transferrable skills but will not be formally assessed.
Problem solving Students will develop problem-solving skills through the four active learning practical sessions including using a computer model for the first time. Students will need to decide how best to analyse and present geographical and geoscientificl data in these practicals, often through an iterativeprocess of experimentation.
Research skills Students will be requiredto interpret results of a computer model for one of thepractical exercises and also think critically about the best ways of presenting scientificdata.
Subject Specific Skills This module will provide students with understanding of the key, fundamental processes and interactions associated with the geology and physical geography of the Earth. It will lay the foundation for studying earth science, surface process, geomorphology and hydrology in other modules at Part 1 and Part 2.
Team work Students will be required to work in small groups for one of the assessment components (revision poster) and through this they will develop skills in collaborative team-work and peer-learning. Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 4