Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOG2531 Glaciers and Glaciation or GEOG2571 Reconstructing Environmental Change


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module provides a comprehensive examination of glacial sedimentary environments drawing on a range of case studies from both modern and ancient glaciated regions. It focuses on the sedimentary processes operating in these environments, the related deposits and landforms, and the wider environmental controls on glacially-influenced sedimentation. It provides field and practical-based training in the description, analysis and interpretation of glacial materials.


  • Terrestrial glacial sedimentation: Till deposition and sediments; models of glacial sediment sequences; description of glacigenic sediments; lithofacies analysis
  • Terrestrial glacial sedimentation – ice marginal environments
  • Glacifluvial processes and sediments
  • Glacilacustrine processes & sediments: ice-contact deposits & depo-centres; distal lake deposits
  • Glacimarine processes and sediments: fjords and tidewater glaciers; ice shelves; continental slopes and deep sea
  • Applied aspects of glacial sedimentology: sediment provenancing; aggregate extraction; hydrogeology; geotechnical properties
  • Technical aspects of glacigenic sediment description and analysis including micromorphology of glacial sediments, sediment description and clast macrofabic analysis.
  • Case studies of glacial sedimentation and sedimentary environments from a range of polar and mid-latitude settings.
  • Two-day residential fieldtrip to western Cumbria.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understand the range and nature of glacial sedimentary environments, both modern and ancient
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the sedimentary processes that operate in these environments and the characteristics of the associated deposits
  • Critically evaluate the contrasting interpretations of glacial sedimentary sequences and landforms and understand the basis for these interpretations
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Plan, design, execute and report on a team-based field investigation of glacial sediments and stratigraphy
  • Employ, evaluate and demonstrate a good working knowledge of the techniques used to investigate glacial sediments in the field and the laboratory
  • Experience in the use of sedimentological techniques that can be used to investigate and interpret glacial deposits.
Key Skills:
  • Produce research findings in the form of a written field report that presents these findings and justifies the basis for their interpretations.
  • Work as a team during the field excursion.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module uses a range of teaching, learning and assessment techniques
  • Lectures will be used to impart basic facts and information necessary to fulfil the aims of this course
  • Fieldwork will provide students with individual and group-working skills and the understanding to describe and interpret glacial sediments in the field
  • The written field report will test students understanding of glacial sediments and their ability to communicate and justify their findings and interpretations.
  • The workshops will analyse data and instruct the students in techniques for interpreting glacial sedimentary environments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 7 c. weekly 2 hours 14
Workshops 2 c. weekly 2 hours 4
Lecture (field Health & Safety briefing) 1 2 hours 2
Fieldwork (2 days) 1 16 hours 16
Preparation and reading 64
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Field report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Field report 5 pages A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback will be provided on fieldwork, field trip evening de-briefings and in the workshops.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University