GV3I7-Carbon and Global Change

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Joanna Clark

Email: j.m.clark@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
The impact of human activity on the global carbon cycle and subsequent effect on the climate is one of the main environmental issues of our time. This module will provide students with an overall understanding of the global carbon cycle as a basis for evaluating recent advances in scientific knowledge on the impact of climate change, land use and atmospheric pollution on carbon cycling in natural environments. Particular focus will be given to understanding carbon on the land surface.

This module aims to develop understanding about the global carbon cycle, and how it is linked to the water and other biogeochemical cycles, to enable assessment of the human impact on the carbon cycle and the implications for global change.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module, students should be able to:
- Identify and explain the key components of the global carbon cycle, and the relationship between the carbon cycle and the hydrological and other biogeochemical cycles on land
- Calculate changes in carbon stores and fluxes on land
- Assess the evidence for human impacts on carbon stores and fluxes on land
- Discriminate between ‘certainties’ and ‘uncertainties’ in scientific knowledge and understanding about carbon and global change

Additional outcomes:
The interdisplinary nature of this module will enable student to pull together and build on knowledge and skills gained in other modules from parts 1, 2 and 3. Students will be able to recognise the need for scientific evidence (and continued research) to inform policy. They will also have the opportunity to develop transferable skills in:
- Independent project work
- Team work during lecture-based activities and practical tasks
- IT and data analysis from use of models, ArcGIS and online data (soil maps, climate change projections etc)
- Communication of scientific knowledge to a range of audiences (general public, policy and scientists)

Outline content:
Topics will include:
- Overview of the global carbon cycle, global change issues and the political agenda
- Land carbon: plant productivity vs decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems
- Land carbon: is carbon in surface waters important?
- Link between carbon, water, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur on land
- The geographical distribution of carbon on land (e.g. tropical forests and peatlands)
- Modelling carbon accumulation (including practical)
- Quantifying carbon stocks and fluxes (including practical using ArcGIS)
- Measuring carbon fluxes (including practical using CO2 analyzer)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be through 5 x 2 hour lectures (including breaks and activities), 2 x 2 hour computer practicals, 1 x 1 hour laboratory demonstration, 1 x 3 hour lab or computer practical (student to choose), and 3 x 3 hour workshop sessions. Learning during lectures will include presentations, group discussions and activities. Practicals provide training in the use of models to predict climate change impacts and ArcGIS to produce carbon inventories. Tutorials will discuss assessment topics and provide formative feedback. Two assessments will provide the opportunity for independent project-based learning from a choice of set assignments involving critical reading, writing and practical tasks.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Demonstration 1
Practicals classes and workshops 16
Guided independent study 73
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Project output other than dissertation 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
1 x policy briefing note on a practical exercise – 40%
1 x essay – 60%

Formative assessment methods:
Verbal feedback on draft work during workshops and practical sessions. Discussion during lectures

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

- where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;

- where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

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.
(Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guideUG.aspx)

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

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework in August/September

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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