MT4YA-The Global Circulation

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MT24A Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics MT24B Atmospheric Physics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: MT38A The Global Circulation
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Andrew Charlton-Perez


Type of module:

Summary module description:

A classroom based module in which students learn how to describe the physical origin of the major dynamical features of the atmospheric circulation.


This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the major features of the global circulation of the atmosphere, with reference to the physical and dynamical concepts introduced in earlier modules. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module the student should able to:

  • Describe in physical terms the basic features of the global circulation,

  • Explain qualitatively the causes of these features.

  • Write succinctly and quantitatively about the circulation

This module will be assessed to a greater depth than the excluded module MT38A

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

How do we make sense of the global circulation using the data available? The Hadley circulation: what controls its strength and extent? Why are there surface westerlies at midlatitudes? The angular momentum budget. What keeps the atmosphere in motion, and why is its kinetic energy so small? What causes local climate features in the tropics? The stratosphere: quasi-biennial oscillation and sudden warmings. How would we design a model of the global circulation?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught using a flipped classroom approach, there are no formal lectures:

  • in their own time, students review a modular set of notes and supporting short videos which outline a key feature of the global circulation

  • at the end of each unit they complete an on-line multiple choice quiz to test their knowledge of the content and provide formative feedback

  • in a two hour class each week, students work on problems related to the content in order to fix and explore concepts related to the ideas considered

  • at the end of each unit, students complete a four page essay of their own choosing for their portfolio, they are provided with peer feedback and the essay is marked to provide summative assessment

Reading lists for meteorology modules are available here:


Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Tutorials 20
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Portfolio 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Each unit has an on-line quiz 

For each element of the portfolio, student receive peer feedback

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:
    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:
    50% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-assessment by submission of an additional part of the portfolio

    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: A personal laptop which can run Python is recommended but not required. 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 23 July 2018


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