Module Identifier GG33720  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Sarah J Davies  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Henry F Lamb, Dr John P Grattan, Dr Sarah J Davies  
Course delivery Lecture   22 Hours 11 x 2 hrs  
  Seminars / Tutorials   10 Hours 5 x 2 hrs  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Written Examination (2 questions from 4)60%
Semester Assessment Seminar Presentation 10 minutes10%
Semester Assessment Essay 3500 words30%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours Written Examination (2 questions from 4)60%
Supplementary Assessment Coursework  30%

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the nature of human impact on the environment at different timescales

2. Evaluate the relative importance of natural environmental change in societal development

3. Demonstrate an appreciation of how past human-environment interactions have contributed to current environmental debates

4. Compare and contrast the human impact on the environment of different cultures in different parts of the world

Brief description

Long Term Perspectives
- Chronology and Environments of Human Evolution
- Significant of the Toba Eruption

The Late Pleistocene
- Human migrations - Australasia and the Americas
- Megafaunal extinctions

Pleistocene-Holocene Transition
- Origins of Agriculture
- Neolithic expansion: people or ideas?
- Ecological impacts of early agriculture

Holocene Environmental Change
- Cultural responses to climate change
- The nature of human impact
- The Mesoamerican Civilizations

The Historical Period
- Old World meets New: Colonial expansion and the Pristine Myth
- Societal impact of volcanic eruptions
- Industrial activities
- Cultural impacts of the Little Ice Age and ENSO events

Lessons for the future
- Vulnerability to future climate change
- Future management strategies


This module will provide students with an understanding of the complex interrelationships between humans and the natural environment. A series of case studies will be used to examine how the palaeoenvironmental and historical record can be used to gain an insight into both the impact of climate variability on society and the nature of human impact on the environment.

Reading Lists

** Reference Text
Grove, R.H. and Chappell, J (eds) (2000) El Nino: History and Crisis Paul and Co Publishing Consortium
Roberts, C.N (1998) The Holocene: an environmental history 2nd. Blackwell

de Menocal, P.B (2001) Cultural responses to climate change during the Late Holocene Science 292: 667-673
Denevan, W.M (1992) The pristine myth: the landscape of the Americas before and after 1482 Annals of the Association of American Geographers 83: 369-385
O'Hara, S.L, Street-Perrott, F.P and Burt, T.P (1993) Accelerated soil erosion around a Mexican highland lake caused by pre-hispanic agriculture Nature 362: 48-51


This module is at CQFW Level 6