Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Glaciers and Ice Sheets
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment End of module assessment  50%
Semester Assessment Fieldwork Report  2500 words (glacier reconstruction exercise)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Fieldwork Report  2500 words (glacier reconstruction exercise)  50%
Supplementary Assessment End of module assessment  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Discuss the global response of glaciers to environmental change.

2. Characterise fundamental processes in contemporary and palaeo-environments.

3. Identify and describe attributes of contemporary and palaeo-glacial systems and interpret former glacier processes.

Brief description

In Glaciers and Ice Sheets students will explore the fundamental theories of glacier processes and their products in both contemporary and former glacial environments. It is delivered through a variety of interactive lectures, a day-long field course (North Wales), and practical classes to further strengthen key concepts in glaciology.


The module will draw content from a range of themes, including:

  • Glacier composition and mass balance;
  • Patterns and processes of glacier and ice sheet motion;
  • Glacier and ice sheet hydrology;
  • Cold-region biogeochemistry;
  • Surge-type glaciers;
  • Hazards in glacial environments;
  • Glacial geology and landforms;
  • Glacier and ice sheet reconstruction;
  • Glaciers an ice sheets in a changing climate.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will be expected to read academic literature and to communicate their knowledge in a fieldwork report and exam answers using appropriate written scientific language. Oral communication skills will be developed through peer-learning environments in the field, and in lectures and practical classes.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will need to adapt to a more independent and self-directed learning style to complete the field and practical exercises. This module will also require students to work together to collect, analyse and interpret data, which will naturally enhance resilience. Collating information from a range of sources, working to tight deadlines, and receiving/acting on feedback will also improve resilience.
Information Technology Students will be expected to research and present written, numerical and graphical data and information using appropriate digital software. Remote sensing and GIS packages will be used to analyse former and contemporary glacial environments. Students will be required to find and engage with relevant sources online and via library-based digital search engines.
Personal Development and Career planning Self-directed field and practical exercises will provide opportunities for reflection on how students can build their understanding and improve progress in the module. Students will be encouraged to build knowledge through independent reading from reading lists, and self-directed research beyond the core reading.
Problem solving Students will be presented with problems relating to glacier systems and processes in a changing climate. Fieldwork and subsequent practical sessions will ask students to reconstruct a former glacier based on glacial landforms; within this specific exercise there are numerous problems to solve.
Research skills Students will be required to critically analyse how glaciers have, are, and will respond to climate change. They will be presented with a series of tasks in lectures, practical classes and in a field setting that require careful consideration, critical thinking and evaluation.
Subject Specific Skills This module will provide students with the skills to apply specialised terminology, concepts and methods relevant to glacial environments of the past, present and future. Students will develop expertise in a range of research methods, including planning and conducting research, and producing field reports. These skills will be practiced and developed through fieldwork and practical exercises. Students will be expected to use journal/web-based sources appropriately and effectively.
Team work Collaborative team-work and peer-learning in small groups will form and integral part of the field and practical exercises. Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6