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 Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 GEOG Module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module examines the physical and biological environments of Antarctica, and their potential for change. Special emphasis is given to the continent's role in global systems and the unique way it is studied and administered.


  • Module content will cover the physical and biological environments of Antarctica, changes to these environments over a range of timescales, and the human and political factors that affect Antarctica.
  • Indicative content:
  • The ice sheet
  • Antarctic climate and links to the global climate system
  • Oceanography
  • Sea ice
  • Antarctic ecosystems
  • Antarctic geology
  • Long-term environmental change
  • Impact of current climate change
  • The ozone hole
  • Pollution and environmental management
  • Antarctic resources
  • The Antarctic Treaty
  • Tourism

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students are expected to be able to:
  • Understand the present-day environments of Antarctica
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of a number of case studies of Antarctic environmental change, and be able to explain their causes and importance
  • Understand the unique way that Antarctica is administered and the history and style of human impacts on Antarctica
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to be able to:
  • Assess the human/physical interface through emphasis on issues surrounding future environmental change in Antarctica, and how this may affect global systems (including climate, sea-level)
  • Comprehend the nature of variability in the type and quality of field data, particularly acute in Antarctica, and relate lecture-based material and reading to real-world contexts
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to be able to:
  • Demonstrate critical evaluation of the academic literature on Antarctic environments and environmental change
  • Discuss current issues surrounding the management of Antarctica and Antarctic Environments

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

  • The module will be delivered via lectures with supplementary activities supported by discussions during workshops or drop-in sessions. The lectures should be supplemented by extensive recommended reading of the academic literature. The tutorial will provide an opportunity to consider more deeply some of the unique issues identified in the module. Students’ ability to interpret and apply both theoretical concepts and practical management issues specific to Antarctica will be tested via the exam.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Term 2 1 hour 8
Workshops 4 Term 2 2 hour 8
Tutorial 1 Term 2 1 hour 1
Student Preparation and Reading 83
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback will occur through activities set during the lectures and during class interaction and discussion in the workshops. The use of Learn Ultra discussion boards will enable all students to gain written group feedback on activities and will also provide a resource from which students can learn from their peers. The tutorial will be used to discuss understanding of key aspects of the module, thus supporting exam preparation.

â–  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