GVMCGC-Carbon and Global Change

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Joanna Clark

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

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. 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. Practical provide training in 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

Other information on summative assessment:
1 x 1-page essay plan identifying a controversial Nature/Science paper from the last decade – 10%
1 x 2000 word essay on the chosen Nature/Science paper – 50%
1 x 2-page policy briefing note on a practical exercise (choice of 2 topics) – 40%

Formative assessment methods:
Verbal feedback on draft work during tutorial and practical sessions. Optional multiple choice quiz on Blackboard. Discussions during lectures.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
An overall mark of 50%

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: 31 March 2017

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