Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Volcanic Activity: Hazards and Environmental Change
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam End of module assessment  2 questions from a list of 6 (up to 1500 words each) 3000 Words  100%
Supplementary Exam End of module assessment (resit)  2 questions from a list of 6 (up to 1500 words each) 3000 Words  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Conduct independent research

Use and interpret numeric data sets

Use and interpret paleoenvironmental data sets

Place hypotheses of volcanically driven environmental change in a global context

Assess the impact of volcanic activity upon human cultural development

Describe the hazards associated with different forms of volcanic activity and illustrate their mitigation with appropriate case studies

Brief description

This module places volcanic activity at the centre of much that has or will happen in the world, from the development of complex lifeforms and mass extinctions to revolution and the rise and fall of empires.


This module will investigate the interrelationship between volcanic activity and the planet's environment. We will explore this theme on several scales, from rare flood basalt eruptions associated with mass extinction events through massive explosive eruptions which have generated climate change to small scale events which erupt on a daily basis. Where appropriate we will draw on archaeological and historical data as well as satellite monitoring of volcanic processes. Students will be exposed to current research in all these areas. The hazards component will be explored by reviewing these and exploring appropriate case studies of disasters and successful mitigation.


  • Volcanic activity and atmospheric evolution
  • Flood basalt volcanism and global environmental stress - mass extinctions
  • Super eruptions: glaciations, genetic bottlenecks, extinctions and extreme climate modification
  • Fissure eruptions: climate change and atmospheric pollution
  • Explosive eruptions of the Holocene: climate change and social response
  • Health impacts of volcanic activity
  • Volcanic gasesand atmospheric chemistry
  • Volcanic activity and human cultural responses
  • Cities at risk
  • Hazard events - impacts and mitigation

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Critical and analytical thinking Assessing the magnitude and potential impact of extreme events and critically assessing the evidence for impact and social, cultural and environmental response.
Reflection Considering and amalgamating environmental data
Subject Specific Skills Interpreting temperature records. Interpreting fossil records. Analysing documentary evidence. Balancing the magnitude of events with the vulnerability of affected environments. An understanding of the vasriabiluity of weather patterns. An appreciation of how human history and development has been affected by extreme volcanic events.


This module is at CQFW Level 6