GV3DLE-Dryland Environments

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Kevin White

Email: k.h.white@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
Drylands cover a third of the Earth’s land surface, and play a critical role in global human and environmental systems through factors such as atmospheric dust production and land degradation. Deserts also provide vital evidence pertaining to low-latitude environmental change and much can be learned from this evidence about the response of societal and environmental processes to climate change. This course provides a broad-based introduction to dryland environments, covering physical and ecological characteristics, history and prehistory, and contemporary human use.

This module will provide a thorough analysis and interpretation of dryland environments and an assessment of their importance, environmental characteristics, and human use.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of this module it is expected that a student will be able to:
•Outline and explain the principal environmental characteristics of drylands
•Discuss the principal processes and landscape features associated with dryland geomorphology
•Examine the ecological processes affecting dryland flora and fauna
•Explain the linkages between dryland geomorphology and ecology and assess the ways in which they impact on human use
•Outline the main climatic shifts that have occurred in drylands over the Quaternary Period, and how these have impacted on human activity
•Explain the ways in which aridity constrains human activity
•Use software tools effectively and appropriately to select, analyse, present and communicate data
•Undertake self-directed study to achieve a set of specific goals
•Work as a participant or leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives.

Additional outcomes:
This module also aims to develop a wide range of key skills through the collection, analysis and presentation of information in the form of a report. It also encourages students to critically reflect on the process of learning, and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses (including time management).

Outline content:

The module will cover definitions of dryland environments, spatial distribution of drylands. Causes of aridity, climate of drylands, history of dryland research, dryland geomorphological processes and landforms, physical, chemical and biotic weathering in drylands, dryland soils and surface crusts, the history and prehistory of human use in drylands, fluvial and aeolian processes in drylands, playas, dryland agriculture, desertification and land degradation, geopolitics of water.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be a combination of lectures, videos and seminars each week.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 2
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study 168
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One, 2 hour paper

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
A 3,000 word essay will be produced. This comprises 50% of the mark for the module

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-sit examination in August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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