also available in 2017
A Level Requirements
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see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Learn about processes operating within our natural environment and explore the physical world. Work in our outstanding practical facilities, alongside world-renowned lecturers.
Physical Geography considers the processes and patterns occurring within our natural environment, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere. Our Physical Geography degree has a strong emphasis on practical work. You will discover how the environment has changed in the past, the controls on environmental processes in the present, and how we can predict changes in the future. You are able shape your degree by choosing from an extensive range of modules.
Lancaster proves to be an exceptional location for studying a degree in physical geography. Located between the rural settings of the north and the bustling cities of Liverpool and Manchester, enables us to explore some of the UK’s most unique areas of geographic interest. You will gain a wealth of hands-on experience with field trips to places such as the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbrian coast and Lake District, as well as international locations such as Iceland, the Mediterranean and Croatia.
While studying at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), you will have access to new teaching and research labs, computer systems and software and even our very own weather monitoring station. You will work in comfortable class sizes, giving you the opportunity to get to know your lecturers personally and benefit from their expert knowledge and helpful one-to-one advice.
First year modules equip you with a well-rounded introduction to some of the key themes of physical geography. In addition the Physical Geography modules, you will be given the opportunity to take two other subjects alongside your first year studies. You will further develop your understanding of environmental processes by studying another subject from within LEC, such as Environmental Science, as well as undertaking a third subject from either within LEC or the wider University, such as Biology or Maths, to enhance your transferrable skills.
In the second year, you will learn a variety of physical geography skills and concepts. Modules include Spatial Analysis and Geographic Information Systems, and you will develop valuable research project skills in preparation for your final year of study. Optional choices include a field trip to Spain, where you will study environmental problems in Mediterranean environments, and modules that address individual topics in hydrology, soil science, and glaciology.
In the third year you will undertake a dissertation project, guided by your academic supervisor which offers a chance to perform original geographical research on a topic of your choice. While completing the dissertation, you will use the key research, analytical and academic writing skills you have learnt throughout your degree. You may wish to take advantage of the unique opportunity to collaborate with a business to complete your dissertation research, allowing you to gain valuable work experience at the same time. In addition, you will be offered further optional module choices including exciting fieldwork opportunities in Croatia and Iceland.
BSc/MSci Hons Physical Geography (Study Abroad)
Our Study Abroad programme enables you to complete a year of your study at one of our partner universities in the USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. While there, you will engage in a range of modules including local field courses that will allow you to make extensive use of your surroundings.
MSci Hons Physical Geography
This four-year programme includes a second dissertation project and Master’s level modules. You will gain further experience of formulating, designing, researching, analysing and reporting of your own independent research project, enabling you to stand out from the crowd in the selection process for graduate posts.
We offer flexible programmes with a strong emphasis on practical learning. You will engage in a wide range of fieldwork and lab-based modules that span the breadth of geographical topics and infuse content from across the physical sciences. Your work will be regularly assessed by a combination of classroom and lab-based assignments, in addition to written examinations and project reports.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level grade B in Geography. We may as an alternative to Geography accept a cognate subject from; Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, Physics.
GCSE Mathematics grade C, English Language grade C
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including Geography at HL grade 6 or alternative cognate subject
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a related subject but may additionally require a supporting A level in Geography at grade B or alternative cognate subject. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
Access to HE Diploma 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit in a related subject but may additionally require a supporting A level in Geography at grade B or alternative cognate subject. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module provides an introduction to environmental processes and their impacts in a variety of different environments. We discuss the physical processes governing the Earth's global climate system and their influence on recent and future patterns of climate and environmental change. We investigate the Earth’s surface materials and the laws that govern the behaviour of fluids, and how these affect environmental flow and fluid transport processes. We also explore the processes which influence the development of soils and associated ecosystems at the land surface, including deposition and erosion processes.
This module provides an introduction to the skills used by geographers to analyse problems in both human and physical geography. The module begins by reviewing the principles of cartography and recent developments in the electronic delivery of map-based information through mobile devices and web-based services. This is followed by an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which provide facilities for the capture, storage, analysis and display of spatially-referenced information. Later in the module we introduce remote sensing and explain its relationship to GIS. We also consider quantitative and qualitative techniques of analysis (which are taught within the context of contemporary conceptual approaches), with emphasis placed on the study of both environmental and societal processes.
This module provides an introduction to the structure and function of aquatic food webs in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. Emphasis is placed on the role of nutrients (bottom-up control) and predation (top-down control) on participating organisms in their freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. Students will understand the importance of algae, whether planktonic or attached, in the primary productivity of aquatic ecosystems and how this is affected by nutrient concentration and composition. The way in which anthropogenic influences can alter the balance of aquatic food webs, and the subsequent problems which may arise, is discussed.
There will be practical sessions on areas such as algae, zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. Workshops will cover the analysis of data using excel, and the characteristics of lake trophic status in The Lake District.
This module provides an introduction to atmospheric science, giving you an understanding of the physical behaviour of the atmosphere through both meteorological theory and observation. We investigate the structure and characteristics of the atmosphere and explore the physical principles which govern its behaviour and which lead to the everyday experience of weather. We also look at the wider role of the atmosphere as an important component of the Earth's climate system.
Practical sessions give you an opportunity to take your own measurements of a wide variety of meteorological variables, to interpret weather charts and satellite images, and to investigate the scientific principles which underpin the way our atmosphere and climate system work.
Introducing the nature of biological diversity and the patterns of distribution of organisms on global, regional and ecosystem scales, students discover the underlying causes of the observed biodiversity patterns and the main current threat to biodiversity. The reasons why species become extinct is explored and then the reasons why species should be preserved. Students will be able to outline the criteria that can be used to identify species and areas of high conservation importance.
Fieldtrips take place on campus, where students will look at sampling techniques and biodiversity, and to sites of special conservation interest in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. There will also be an excursion to Blackpool Zoo.
This module examines the transfer and transformation of the key elements that are vital to life on planet Earth. Taking carbon as an example, we examine the budget and cycling of this element in the major surface compartments of air, water and soil, and how this links with the deeper, older compartment of the lithosphere. The impact of human activities that effectively ‘short-circuit’ the natural geochemical cycles is explored, along with the role of biota in shaping Earth systems.
Introducing students to the development of evolutionary theory and the evidence for the evolutionary processes of natural and sexual selection, this module examines the evolutionary relationships of the major groups of organisms, and deals with speciation and human evolution.
Using specific examples of animal behaviour, we demonstrate how an understanding of natural and sexual selection can explain the diverse evolution of body structures, reproductive behaviours and life-history strategies.
This module investigates the geological processes and materials that shape our natural world. Assuming no prior knowledge of geology, you will gain valuable experience of volcanic, sedimentary and deformation processes – both theoretical and practical. You will learn to identify common rocks and minerals and describe the geological processes that formed them. Five topics are studied: minerals as building blocks of rocks; volcanism and plutonism; metamorphism; sedimentation, and deformation. This will enable you to interrogate the rock record to understand how our planet evolved in the past and how it may continue to do so in the future. This module is an ideal starting point if you are aiming for a career in the oil industry, hazard management, town planning, cartography, environmental consultancy, etc, but is aimed at anyone with a broad interest in the the way the Earth works and who is curious to know more.
This module examines how the biosphere reacts to environmental change. It concentrates on the responses to changes such as increasing drought, global warming, ozone depletion, and air pollution. Emphasis is placed on understanding plants as the driving force for the effects of environment change on other organisms within terrestrial ecosystems. This will range from consideration of changes in complex natural ecosystems through to effects on humans, through changes in global food production. The module will also consider the direct effects of environmental change on human populations.
You will learn to describe the effects of global warming and pollution on plants and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the links between basic plant physiology and the consequences of environmental change. We also explore the direct and indirect effects of environmental change on human populations. You will take part in workshops that look at the effects of the environment on carbon fixation and water use, and human health and environment change.
Floods and water pollution are common side effects of our economic development. In this module we explore how to study rainfall, groundwater, evaporation and rivers and how to use this information to solve problems in the water environment. To introduce you to the subject of hydrology we use two case studies. The first is the impact of rainforest logging on the water environment in northern Borneo. In the second case study we look at how hydrology can provide insight into the water pollution risks from a proposed radionuclide repository at Sellafield.
A fieldtrip to gauge stream-flow in White Scar Cave and a number of laboratory practical sessions will help you to relate the hydrological theory to the solution of real-world environmental problems.
This module provides an introduction to the chemistry of environmental systems for students without A-level chemistry. It focuses on the fundamental chemical behaviour of elements and compounds especially as they relate to the environment. Students will learn the basic chemical characteristics of substances and understand what is meant by a chemical reaction and why they occur.
Workshops are an important feature of the course where students will learn about atomic structure, molecular properties and instrumental chemical analysis.
Depending upon the degree programme, students who hold an A-level in chemistry do not have to take this module and as such will have a further optional module to choose from.
This module explores Earth's natural hazards, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, using case studies from around the world. We investigate the causes and effects of such hazards, and the dangers they pose to people and infrastructure. We look at methods of monitoring, predicting and mitigating them, and consider approaches to minimizing the harm they cause.
This module is designed to give students a foundation in the numerical skills required for studying environmental science. It focuses on developing explicit links between mathematical analysis and the physical processes that govern environmental systems. Workshop sessions with members of teaching staff provide an informal atmosphere for you to refresh your mathematical knowledge, to learn how numerical skills can enrich your understanding of the environment, and to develop a scientific approach to solving a range of environmental problems. We employ environmental case studies throughout the module and analyse a number of environmental data sets.
Depending upon degree programme, students who hold an AS-level in maths do not have to take this module and as such will have a further optional module to choose from.
Following the earlier module ‘Numerical Skills I’, students will gain a more complete understanding of the numerical skills required for studying the environment. Environmental case studies will be used in a mixture of lectures and workshops where students will learn to manipulate trigonometric equations, describe the basic principles of calculus and solve simple equations. These concepts will be applied to environmental examples including radioactive decay, atmospheric pressure scale height and chemical kinetics.
This module takes you on a journey to the centre of our planet, investigating evidence for the composition and behaviour of the Earth's crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. You will gain an overview of the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, and understand current theories which explain how plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions have shaped the Earth’s surface and influenced the atmosphere, climate and evolution of life.
This module will provide you with an understanding of how and why organisms are classified and named, and an appreciation of how identification keys are constructed and used. You will learn to construct simple classificatory and evolutionary trees, and to indicate their significance.
Evolutionary relationships will be evaluated using anatomical and other characteristics, and the distinctive features of major groups of animals will be outlined so that you are able to indicate the functional, evolutionary, and, in some cases, ecological and economic significance of them.
Practical sessions will enable you to take part in the identification of both invertebrate and vertebrate groups.
Introducing the discipline and sub-disciplines of physical geography, this module provides specific knowledge of the historical, philosophical and conceptual bases of 21st century geographical enquiry, along with the tensions, controversies and convergences that characterise it. Students will learn the conceptual issues relevant across geography, such as space, time, nature, globalisation, and risk, and will learn to link them with methodological skills required for data collection, analysis and interpretation.
Additionally, students will develop an appreciation for commonalities across research cultures, for example the need for coherence of conceptual approaches, methodologies and techniques, and the need for reflection and awareness amongst researchers of their place in the wider intellectual community. They will gain self-awareness of their own place in the wider intellectual community, whether as apprentice researchers or sojourners in the research milieu.
This module follows on from what you have learnt about conceptual approaches and methodological skills for geographical research, and allows you to practice their application in the context of a geographical research project. The module develops skills in project management and execution, and enhances understanding of the skills and concepts learnt, showing you how they work in a real situation of geographical enquiry.
Although you will undoubtedly have carried out geographical research projects prior to this, the module will raise the intellectual level of your project execution by ensuring that it is research literature-based and is framed by the higher level conceptual and methodological learning that you have gained from your studies so far. Thus, the module will give you experience that will be of direct benefit for your final year dissertation research. In addition, this module involves workshops on understanding how you can recognise and exploit the skills that you developing in the post-graduation careers market.
More data has been generated in the last 2 years than over whole history of humanity prior to this. Of this data, 80% has spatial content. This module is about understanding properties of spatial data, whether derived from the map, an archive or the field or from space. The module will explore how these data are represented in computer systems and how, through spatial integration, new forms of information may be derived. There will be a focus on major sources of spatial data (topographic, environmental, and socio-economic) and their properties, major forms of analyses based on spatial relationships, and on effective communication of spatial data through adherence to principles of map design.
Students will develop an understanding of what makes spatial data special; this will be taught through exposure to data from a variety of primary, secondary, contemporary and historic data across the breadth of the geographic discipline. The module will introduce common forms of spatial analysis and will provide an understanding of which to use under given the situations. Students will learn the principles of map design and effective cartographic communication, as well as gaining practical experience of critiquing digital outputs. Finally, the module will offer students significant 'hands-on' experience of using state-of-the-art GIS software to capture, integrate, analyse and present geographic information.
This module provides a deeper understanding of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and begins by laying the foundations with the physical properties of the atmosphere and how they affect the movement of air. A major objective is to bring familiarity with meteorological analyses and forecasts. The module covers topics varying from small scale flow in the atmospheric boundary layer affecting pollutant transport to global scale circulation of the atmosphere including important phenomena such as monsoons and El Niño.
Practical sessions and a field trip to the Hazelrigg meteorological station will enable students to gain familiarity with mid-latitude synoptic systems, cyclones and fronts. This is built on by giving students sufficient knowledge about the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, of the fluxes of C, S and N to and from the atmosphere and of the main chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere to allow them to understand how the Earth's atmosphere 'works' chemically within the framework of physical process already covered.
Successful completion of this module will show evidence of students’ ability to describe the structure and behaviour of the atmosphere with reference to meteorological observations and pathways of atmospheric transport from analysis of meteorological charts, in addition to the range of skills required to draw schematic diagrams of the general tropospheric circulation, whilst identifying the major processes (and underlying forces) that drive this circulation. Students will gain knowledge of the methods necessary to calculate atmospheric quantities, such as potential temperature, and use the results of these calculations to describe the state of the atmosphere. Students will also be equipped with the level of understanding needed to list the components of the unpolluted troposphere, including the trace gases of chemical significance, and draw annotated schematic diagrams of the atmospheric cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur.
The module aims to introduce concepts, plus measurement and analytical techniques used by professional hydrologists to solve water-related problems in catchments (notably flood forecasting and water quality remediation). Through a series of lectures and workshops, students can expect to study topics including the processes, measurement and analysis of rainfall, evapotranspiration and water quality measurement and treatment.
The module aims to develop higher level scientific skills in measuring the natural environment, quantifying dynamic processes numerically and digesting scientific literature. Students will gain the skillset required to describe catchment hydrological processes in a quantitative manner, therefore utilising a developed understanding of fundamental hydrological processes, their field measurement ('hydrometry') and basic aspects of dynamic catchment modelling. Additionally, students will gain a range of transferrable academic skills, such as the ability to use data and basic models to derive solutions, and applying subject-specific literature to help understand theory and limitations of theory, measurements and models.
This ‘hands on’ module provides an exciting opportunity for you to put your geographical skills to work in a real-life classroom setting and to gain some valuable work experience. We organise for you to spend half a day per week in a local primary or secondary school for a whole term so that you can gain first-hand experience as a classroom assistant and learn how Geography (or a related discipline) is communicated in a school setting. Not only is this module a great choice for anyone considering a career in teaching, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to escape from the lecture theatre and learn in a real-world environment. You’ll come back from your experiences as a confident communicator who is well versed in the latest debates in Geography and Education.
This course provides an advanced overview of the processes that determine the nature of the Earth's surface features. It will introduce you to glaciology, hydrology, hillslope processes, Aeolian activity, and the impact that these have on both the Earth's surface and on the sediments beneath. The aim is to help you develop a clear and detailed understanding of physical geography and to provide a firm foundation for developing deeper insights through specialisation into different elements of the subject in your third year.
As a result of increasing energy demand, concerns regarding security of supply and the need to de-carbonise energy supplies to mitigate climate change, sustainable energy provisioning is one of the critical challenges society faces. This course provides an overview of energy technologies and the energy system within the UK. Following an introduction on why energy is important, the forms of energy and how it is used, the course focuses on each of the key energy technologies in turn. The specifics of each energy technology including how it works, how much is produced, economics, environmental impacts and its current role in the energy mix will be outlined. Energy distribution networks, overall policy drivers and future energy mixes will also be detailed. The module comprises lecture, workshop and field trip-based learning and will be assessed by two coursework submissions and an exam.
Evolution is the fundamental concept in biology and an understanding of its processes and effects are important for biologists in all disciplines. The module aims to show how the morphology and behaviour of animals and plants is adapted to their environment through interactions with their own and other species, including competitors, parasites, predators and prey, and relatives. Students will explore the concept of adaptation to natural and sexual selection pressures at the level of the individual and the effects on the wider population.
Students will gain the ability to describe the roles that variation, heritability and selection play in the evolutionary process, along with a developed understanding of how numerical changes in population occur, and enhanced knowledge of how to analyse such shifts in order to make predictions about future changes. This module will also reinforce students’ understanding of the application of theoretical models, the changing effects of costs and behaviours due to circumstance, and how conflicts of interest might influence the reproductive success of individuals.
Students taking this module will gain a range of transferable skills including: report writing, data analysis and presentation, team working, verbal presentation, summarising technical texts and design of scientific enquiries.
A record of Earth’s geological history – its metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary and tectonic processes, and its surface paleogeography and climate – can be extracted from the analysis and interpretation of its rocks, minerals and fossils. Expanding on an earlier module in geology, this module examines such processes and products (rocks), focusing on how to interpret the geological history from the rock record. This is a strongly practical-based course, designed to provide students with key geologic skills required to interpret the rock record. Students will develop skills in the identification of minerals in thin section, identification of rocks and fossils in hand specimen, geologic map interpretation, use of topographic and geologic maps and field note books, field sketches, compass clinometers and stratigraphic logging, in addition to a range of skills in synthesising data in order to produce overall interpretations.
Students will gain the necessary skills required to describe and classify rocks in a specimen, and identify minerals in thin section. Students will develop a working understanding of how rocks are dated, and will utilise stereonets to extract sedimentological and structural data. Additionally, students will be able to interpret geologic maps, including sedimentological and structural data, and will determine past sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments of formation and the processes by which deformation and exhumation occur, along with developing the ability to apply Earth science field techniques in order to unravel the geologic history of an area.
This module explores the characteristics of landscapes with an emphasis on the biogeographical and geomorphological processes that underpin them. Delivered in two integrated ways, this module will provide substantive material that will be taught through two weekly lectures before applying and developing the knowledge at twice-weekly field trips.
Students undertaking this module will develop a detailed understanding of key concepts of biogeographical and geomorphological interactions in three related environments. Additionally, they will gain the ability to communicate their knowledge in the area whilst demonstrating a critical appreciation of the conceptual base.
Eco-innovation, being the development of new products, processes or services that support business growth with a positive environmental impact, is one of the key enabling instruments identified by the European Union for the transition to a more resource efficient economy. It is embedded in the Europe 2020 strategy for supporting sustainable growth. This module will provide several case studies which outline the way in which businesses have applied eco-innovation in practice Students will gain knowledge of the key approaches to, and models of, eco-innovation in a range of business and policy contexts in addition to a reinforced understanding of how innovative ideas can be turned into practical solutions for complex socio-environmental problems, and how different business models and financing approaches can be used to make the solution commercially viable and potentially profitable.
Students will gain knowledge of eco-innovation and understand how the concept relates to business opportunities for environmental goods and services. In addition, students will gain the knowledge and skillset required to analyse how both small businesses and large global organisations apply eco-innovation into their business planning, whilst
Evaluating business opportunities related to the environment in the context of products and services to address flooding or other complex problems. Students will learn how to create proposals for eco-innovation, and prepare presentations for a panel of experts, and will develop the necessary level of understanding required to analyse technical, financial, and environmental information from a wide range of sources in order to comprehend and evaluate strategies to address complex environment-society problems and challenges.
As a field course designed to complement other second year modules, this module provides hands on experience giving students the opportunity to apply a number of concepts and test the theories being addressed in those modules. This module will take the research approaches and techniques that are dealt with in a classroom and laboratory setting and will translate them into the field context, which therefore reinforces learning in the thematic areas of environmental subjects and the development of generic research skills, and, importantly, provides a coherent link between the two.
Students will develop the ability to demonstrate detailed insights into aspects of the physical, biological and anthropogenic characteristics of Mediterranean environments, and will gain an appreciation for the range of different approaches to solving environmental research problems. Additionally, the module will provide an enhanced understanding of the value of field observations in formulating research questions and hypotheses, and students will learn to combine key theoretical concepts together with generic research skills in order to design and implement a coherent scientific investigation.
Recent emphasis on global change and biodiversity has raised awareness of the importance of species and their interactions in determining how sustainable our lifestyle is. This module explores the factors that drive population and community dynamics, with a strong focus on multi-trophic interactions and terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will be introduced to population ecology and will discover the abiotic factors that regulate populations, life history strategies of populations, competitive interactions within populations, and meta-population dynamics, in addition to an understanding of how species interact both within and across trophic levels. The module exposes students to the belowground system and will look at how the species interactions and soil communities discussed impact on community structure and dynamics. The module aims to give students a fundamental understanding of ecology - such knowledge is essential for informing conservation and sustainable land-use practices, and efforts to mitigate climate change.
In order to complete this module, students will develop the ability to outline the primary factors that drive population dynamics, whilst critically discussing examples, and will reinforce their understanding of the implications of species interactions for community dynamics. Students will also gain a critical awareness of biotic responses and their contribution to climate change.
This module aims to provide students with broad understanding of the discipline of conservation biology. The module starts by defining biodiversity, discussing its distribution in space and time, and its value to humankind, before examining the key anthropogenic threats driving recent enhanced rates of biodiversity loss. The module then focuses on the challenges for conservation of biodiversity at several levels of the biological hierarchy: genes, species, communities and ecosystems, and the techniques used by conservationists at these levels. The final part of the module looks at the practice of conservation through discussion of prioritisation, reserve design and national and international conservation policy and regulation.
Students will develop a range of skills including the ability to discuss the principle threats to global biodiversity and the rationale for biodiversity conservation, in addition to application of a range of metrics to quantify biodiversity. Students will gain a critical understanding of the various approaches to conserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, as well as an enhanced knowledge of quantification of popularisation approaches to prioritisation of conservation goals, and how nature reserves can be designed to improve conservation potential.
This module aims to introduce and demonstrate the nature and properties of soils in an environmental context. It will provide an introduction to soil formation, soil description (including field work), chemical and physical properties, and biology, which will lead to the application of soil science to a variety of practical problems. This module gives exciting grounding in the nature and importance of soils in context with wider environmental issues. As well as detailed knowledge of fine scale soil processes, students will learn interdisciplinary thinking that helps them connect different and complex strands of knowledge from around the earth system.
Students will be able to describe the nature and roles of soils in the environment, and will gain the level of understanding required to describe the nature and role of soils in the environment. Successful students will be able to give a basic account of soil chemical and physical properties, as well as soil biology, and will develop the ability to discuss applied aspects of soils, specifically nutrient recycling and carbon storage.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
The placement dissertation provides you with experience of the workplace in a context that is relevant to your academic study. It enables you to take your academic knowledge and to experience at first hand how it can be applied in the workplace. You will also get to see how the requirements of a particular organisation influence the interpretation and implementation of academic knowledge. The placement thus provides a unique opportunity to study the ways in which the academic and commercial worlds intersect and to appreciate both the opportunities and constraints involved in applying geographical, environmental and biological knowledge in a real-world context. The experience will both enhance your academic knowledge and understanding and improve your employability in sectors relevant to your degree.
You will have the option of taking either a Dissertation or a Dissertation with External Partner. However, please note that students taking a Study Abroad year may not take this option, as the work placement element would clash with the year abroad.
This module explores climate change in the context of it being a ‘wicked problem’. The aim is to provoke students to look beyond the simple narratives pushed at us about climate change and to start to think critically as wicked problems require us to do. In doing so, students are invariably forced to abandon often naive assumptions about what can and can't be done to tackle climate related risks. Despite understanding climate change from the perspective of wicked, problems often lead to a sense of powerlessness.
This module employs debate and discussion as its primary learning devices. As a result, students will be expected to actively participate in debate, holding and developing their line of argument both in small groups and in class wide discussions and debates. The module also employs a group structure and activities to engender team working skills. Practical decision making is a theme running through the module supported by approximate quantitative analysis.
By the end of this module, students will recognise the role of societal and climate dynamics in climate change management, and will gain the necessary knowledge required to comprehend the basis of sustainable development arguments in the context of climate change management to be able to perform simple, yet meaningful evaluation of a range of climate related options. Further skills which can be gained from this module include the ability to distinguish the relative positions of adaptation, mitigation and geoengineering and to be able to argue between various options within each.
In this module, students will be shown how, through manipulation of species, communities and ecosystems, habitats can be managed in a sustainable way that preserves and enhances their aesthetic, scientific, recreational, and often utilitarian, value. The creation of new habitats will be considered, as well as management of existing areas of conservation interest. The module is largely taught by external lecturers who are directly involved in the application of ecological principles to practical problems.
Students will develop the level of ability required to describe the nature of selected habitat types, as well as explaining a series of underlying ecological processes which necessitate management. Students will also be able to identify the techniques used for conservation management specific to a range of habitat types, in addition to reinforcing a range of transferrable skills, such as the ability to present scientific data clearly and concisely, in both written and oral format. Students will learn to work autonomously as well as being involved in group work.
By illustrating the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data and how it extends our understanding of environmental processes, this module aims to provide students with an appreciation for the principles on which remote sensing systems operate and how we can derive useful environmental information from remotely sensed data. Students are required to compare the information provided by remote sensing to that from other means of sampling.
Essentially, the module will provide an introduction to the physical basis of remote sensing, electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface and the sensors and systems which are used to acquire data. Students will learn to recognise the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data in extending our knowledge of environmental processes, and will gain practical knowledge in a range of image processing techniques or remotely sensed imagery.
This module covers both the principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and GIScience, and provides practical experience in the use of GIS using ArcGIS, a leading windows-based package. Students will engage with a number of theoretical issues, such as the problems of representing real world phenomena in GIS databases, and will consider emerging trends within the discipline such as WebGIS and the Open Source GIS movement. Lectures also explore the use of GI in government, commercial and academic sectors and related employment opportunities, and are complimented by a series of practical sessions in ArcGIS. Initial exercises are concerned with creating, manipulating and querying spatial data using the core functionality of the software, and subsequent exercises demonstrate more sophisticated forms of spatial analysis using a range of extension products including Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst and ArcScene.
Over the duration of the module, students are required to source their own data, conduct appropriate analyses and produce a project report. This combination of concepts, theories and practical experience provides students with the requisite skills to enter the graduate workplace, and they will learn how to explain how data may be modelled, captured, stored, manipulated and retrieved from within GIS. Additionally, the module will enhance students’ abilities in a range of areas, such as the design and implementation of a spatial database and appropriate forms of analysis, knowledge of the latest developments and emerging issues and trends in GIS and GISc.
This module takes a broad look at geological hazards, covering contemporary events, to those that have shaped the Earth over geological time. Specific hazards are addressed, including earthquakes and tsunamis, terrestrial and sub-marine landslides at a variety of differing scales, landslide triggering and principles of run-out, volcanic hazards (eruption styles, plumes and pyroclastic flows) and extreme events which civilisation has yet to witness.
The module explores in depth the fundamental processes involved, and to what extent events can be predicted. Case histories of national and international disasters will be used to illustrate these hazards, with the inherent risks and potential mitigation measures discussed. The module develops a sense of human-place in the geological world, promoting an understanding of how the geological world impacts human society, and what can be done to limit that impact.
Students will be able to describe and explain the processes responsible for the occurrence, recurrence and magnitude of geological hazards, and will gain the knowledge needed to evaluate hazard prediction methods. Additionally, students will gain a critical understanding of risk mitigation strategies, with reference to examples from around the world, and will gain the practical knowledge required to apply simple principles of analysis of slope failure using a variety of natural hazard situations. Students will also be able to demonstrate how simple probabilistic models may be applied to forecasting earthquakes, and discuss the uncertainties inherent in these techniques.
This module will give you an insight into the physical dynamics and ecological interactions within glacial systems. We begin with the concept of mass and surface energy balance, determining when and where snow and ice melt may occur. This determines how water flows through a glacier and introduces the concept of hydrological regime. We then study the implications that this has for glacial dynamics and the legacy of past glacial systems in the environment. Where ice sheets and glaciers overlie active volcanic systems there is currently very little understanding of how the two forces interact - does volcanic activity control glacier behaviour or is it the other way round? We introduce the concept of studying glaciers as ecosystems, rather than just physical systems in the landscape, and discuss recent advances in glacier hydrochemistry in the context of climatic change.
Students taking this module will reinforce a number of field skills, including field observation and recording. The module provides first-hand experience of glacial process and their impacts on and interactions with the dynamic tectonic landscape of Iceland. The module’s range of topics will include the ways in which glaciers interact with the surrounding landscape. This will involve observation, recording and understanding of geomorphological features and ice-volcanic interactions. Much of the learning will be of a practical nature, involving development of field observation and recording skills, mapping of geomorphological features in the landscape, logging of snowpack properties, observation and recording of glacial sedimentary features and properties.
The module provides a range of transferrable skills such as the ability to collect field data, and process and interpret the results. Students will effectively deploy practical, quantitative, communication and team work skills, and will learn to demonstrate an appreciation for the subject of glaciology and an enthusiasm for the study of physical geography based on first-hand experience of observing glacier landscape interactions within the field environment. Additionally, students will develop an appreciation for the fundamental principles of glaciology and understand how glaciers fit into the broader study of the physical environment, as well as gaining the ability to demonstrate an appreciation for the enquiry-based approach to learning in the field environment and understand how this can be used across disciplines and in the development of dissertation research questions.
The module will require students to make accurate recordings of field observations and data, integrate these with available published information, and present data and interpretations to their peer group and lecturers; whilst doing so, they will demonstrate independent, critical thinking, fostered through an approach of problem based learning. Among other knowledge, the module will provide an understanding of how glaciers operate and interact with the surrounding landscape, as well as the influence of volcanic activity on glacier dynamics.
The aim of this module is to introduce the concept of the Earth system and how the different components interact with each other to shape the Earth's climate and control how the climate might change. The module begins with underlying concepts that shape the Earth's, before considering natural and human drivers of climate change, including volcanoes, solar output, greenhouse gases and land use change. In addition, it will also introduce the computer models and global observation networks that scientists use to understand the Earth system as well as the IPCC process.
This module provides students with an introduction to the physical processes which influence global climate change, leading to a better understanding of Earth system science and give them a clear understanding of the Earth system and the human impacts on it, and how scientists investigate this area with Earth system model.
Students will gain the level of experience and knowledge necessary to demonstrate subject specific skills, such as how to calculate a global 2-compartment radiative budget, along with an understanding of the major parts of the Earth system and how they interact. Students will develop the communication skills required to describe what an Earth system model is, and will be able to explain pollutant sources and sinks.
This module will examine how biological understanding can contribute to “global change solutions” in respect to a number of key issues, including food production, biofuels and the continuing protection of the ozone layer. However, it will also place that biological understanding in its wider context, not least by considering how the same fundamental information on specific biological approaches can lead to diametrically opposed positions on the utility and desirability of actually using the biology (e.g. the debate around GM crops).
Students will examine how different interpretations of biological technology relate to the underlying biology, and will additionally benefit from a workshop that will consider the needs of “science communication” beyond the scientific community. The module will not only provide a detailed understanding of a range of “global change solutions”, it will also consider how biology is used (and abused?) in assessing climate change and the possible responses and solutions.
Successful students will be able to describe the biology of a range of examples of both responses to global change, and possible biology-based solutions to ameliorate those responses, and recognise the wider context of the underlying biology of global change effects and/or solutions, for example in policy or the practical deployment of new technologies. Students will develop their critical skills, enabling them to evaluate the biological evidence in relation to global change effects and solutions, and assess how such evidence is used to support sometimes diametrically opposed views specific issues. This module will enhance students’ ability to write effective, concise, accurate summaries of complex biological topics in styles appropriate for different audiences, e.g. the scientific community, policy makers or the general public.
This course is based at the Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre, South Devon in the summer and centres on a study of the hydrological processes governing nitrate eutrophication of Slapton Ley, a coastal freshwater lake of ecological significance. The course offers a unique opportunity to examine an actual environmental problem - eutrophication - through the integration of field measurements and laboratory analysis. Field measurements, in small groups, will combine qualitative observations with borehole hydraulic testing and some geophysics. Laboratory analysis will include contaminant breakthrough experiments, soil physical properties, nitrate chemistry and topography-based simulation modelling. Your understanding of the nitrate remediation measures will be reinforced through a field visit on 'Catchment Sensitive Farming' led by Natural England staff.
This module introduces the underpinning aspects of geophysical and remote sensing techniques used to investigate the Earth's surface and near surface. The techniques covered are illustrated by case studies demonstrating their advantages and limitations, for example, for the investigation of contaminated sites and sites suitable for exploitation (e.g. for minerals or for hydrothermal energy) and for monitoring hazardous regions such as volcanoes. The module delivers a synoptic view of active and passive techniques, seismic, gravity, magnetic, radar and electrical methods for sub-surface characterisation and GPS, radar and laser techniques for surface measurements. The techniques are linked through developing an understanding of measurements in terms of both spatial and temporal coverage and resolution.
Students will develop a range of skills necessary to describe the range of applications of geophysical measurements, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different geophysical and remote sensing techniques. Students will gain the practical experience required to assess appropriate measurement strategies for specific environmental problems and identify sources of geophysical measurement error. Additionally, students will be able to relate different geophysical measurements in terms of spatial and temporal coverage and resolution.
Join a discussion and debate where you are encouraged to critically examine primary literature and ideas on topical issues in conservation biology in the UK and globally. Gain an understanding of the key factors that constrain conservation and of the interdisciplinary nature of conservation problems in the real world.
This module focuses primarily on the physical (hydrodynamic, sedimentary and morphological) processes and phenomena that determine the nature of lakes, rivers and estuaries. It also explores their chemical (water quality) and biological (ecological health) characteristics and how these aspects are related. The module is centred on three pieces of written work on current topics in the research literature, and practical sessions in which data sets from each type of waterbody are investigated in order to understand how the underlying processes manifest themselves in real data. The learning gained in the practical sessions is assessed via a computer-based exam at the end of the module in which you are presented with data sets similar to those used in the practical sessions and asked to interpret them. Learning for both elements of the assessed work is supported via a series of eighteen lectures.
The three cornerstones of this module are a) understanding the sources, impacts of dispersal of particulate pollution, particularly from fossil fuel burning, b) interpreting climate change proxies, over the last 0.5 million years preserved in sediments with a focus on cold climates, and dust, and c) quantifying sediment tracing and sediment transfer mechanisms in modern catchment systems, for help in land management.
The main focus is on how we use magnetic minerals in the environment to address these three core problems, but we also consider additional supporting datasets. The coursework is based around an evaluation of sediment transfer in a Lake District catchment, using data from a one-day fieldtrip to the area, together with statistical analysis of a magnetic dataset from the catchment soils and the ultimate lake-sink for the catchment sediment.
The Quaternary geological period has been a time of enormous environmental changes, on both a global and a local scale. The most obvious is the growth and decay of ice sheets in mid-latitudes, but this went hand in hand with many other changes throughout the globe. This module considers the big picture of global change in terms of six great interlinked themes of environmental change during the Quaternary: the growth and decay of ice sheets, the changing level of the sea, changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, terrestrial biological changes, human influences and the engine of the ice ages.
Students will learn the dramatic environmental and climatic changes which have occurred at global and regional scales over the Quaternary, and will gain the ability to summarise the possible drivers, both natural and anthropogenic, of such changes, as well as explain the techniques and resultant datasets that inform us of these changes. Additionally, they will illustrate the complex and non-linear nature of the Earth system responses to Milankovitch forcing, outlining the ramifications for our understanding and prediction of present and future climatic and environmental change. The module will also describe the paradigm shifts that have occurred over the last few decades in Quaternary science and will require students to correlate and interpret palaeoclimatic data, globally and regionally.
Modern resource-intensive agriculture has proved incredibly successful in delivering relatively abundant, cheap food (at least in the developed world), but sometimes at considerable environmental cost. Therefore the general public is usually keen to embrace "sustainable agriculture" but is generally unaware of the economic and food production costs of proposed changes in crop management. By emphasising the concept of crop resource use efficiency, this module focuses on the viability of less intensive agricultural systems.
Students will critically examine primary literature on topical issues concerning the sustainability of different agricultural systems. They will gain an understanding of the key factors constraining food production, and the environmental and food production consequences of different crop production systems.
In addition to gaining the ability to identify key issues affecting the sustainability of agriculture, students will critically appraise the literature on these issues, and will develop the skillset required to recognise the economic and societal problems constraining the adoption of more environmentally sustainable agriculture. Ultimately, students will gain the ability to discuss alternative scenarios and solutions for key environmental problems associated with agriculture and document said issues in a cogent and critical manner.
Radioactive contamination of our environment causes levels of concern unlike almost any other pollutant. In this module, students learn about the mechanisms by which radiation damages the body and the systems by which we measure and control exposure to radiation. They will then study the sources of naturally occurring radioactivity and radioactive contaminants to the environment and their behaviour in the environment, in order to better understand how people can become exposed. Students will develop their understanding and evaluation to the risk to human populations of accidents, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Through the study of specific radiation-related case studies, students develop their understanding of risk in a wider context, thus being able to contribute more thoughtfully to nuclear-related debates in society. Students will practice and develop their numerical skills, through the determination of radioactive decay. Laboratory classes will be used to demonstrate concepts addressed in lectures, and students will be encouraged to put the data generated into the wider context.
By completing this module, students will demonstrate an ability to identify the sources of natural and artificial radionuclides in the environment, and explain the main processes by which radionuclides are distributed through the environment, illustrating them with examples. Practical experience will enable students to apply the principles of dose assessment to determine the impact of environmental exposure to radioactivity, whilst development of critical skills will allow students to evaluate the consequences of nuclear accidents.
This module builds on students’ current knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of the Earth's internal structure and dynamics, and interactions between surface and deep processes. Evidence from a variety of geophysical techniques is evaluated, including the rapidly developing field of seismic tomography, which produces fuzzy images of thermal and compositional anomalies such as mantle plumes and subducted lithospheric plates. Students will read a variety of journal articles as a basis for discussion of current theories and controversies about how the Earth works.
By completing this module, students will demonstrate a good understanding of the principles behind, and applications of, a variety of geophysical techniques in addition to an enhanced ability to compare, contrast and synthesise different types of evidence about how the Earth works. Students will also gain the necessary level of knowledge to be able to discuss and distinguish current theories and debates, such as the mantle plume controversy, and will learn to apply stereonets to determine earthquake focal mechanisms.
This module expects students to apply a range of skills already developed in previous modules Geology, Natural Hazards, Geoscience in Practice and Geological Hazards. It allows students to improve their theoretical and practical knowledge of volcanic processes by studying the evolution of a basaltic volcano. Students will explore a wide range of the complex physical volcanic processes that take place both on the surface and beneath volcanoes, including lava flow emplacement, intrusive and explosive events. This problem-based learning module covers two levels of problems: the higher-level problem (e.g. understanding the plumbing system of a complex volcano or the role of ‘volcano spreading’ or slope instability in the evolution of volcanoes) will occupy the entire module. Lower level problems will be solved at a number of key localities where students will be expected to unravel the processes involved.
On completion of this module, students will express the ability to systematically observe and interpret field evidence for emplacement processes of volcanic rocks, along with gaining the knowledge required to describe the intrusive, effusive and explosive processes that take place during volcanic eruptions. Students will also demonstrate the ability to recognise the role of regional tectonics, gravitational deformation of the volcano and major slope instabilities on the evolution of basaltic volcanoes. The module will also prepare students with the level of practical knowledge necessary to explain the problems of dealing with volcanic hazards on heavily populated active volcanoes.
Water is fundamental to life and is therefore a critical natural resource for human society and for all ecosystems. Employers of graduates from a wide range of environment-orientated degrees increasingly value understanding of the frameworks and technologies through which water resources can be conserved and restored, alongside the interactions between water and other natural resources such as land. This module focuses on providing this understanding, drawing on a wide range of real-world examples from the UK water sector. Students will cover the major UK and European regulatory frameworks that currently drive water resource management, the technologies available to treat wastewater, the approaches used to assess chemical and biological water quality, and the links between agricultural and urban development and water quality. This learning will be reinforced by field visits to wastewater treatment works, and by practical work dealing with datasets collected by the Environment Agency of England and Wales.
Over the duration of the module, students will be required to apply standard Environment Agency statistical procedures to assess chemical water quality, along with applying standard Environment Agency procedures to evaluate biological water quality. The module will enhance students’ ability to identify the strategies for assessing and managing water quality in the UK, and they will be able to derive simple dilution models to describe pollutant concentrations in river networks. Finally, students will gain the knowledge required to be able to explain and describe the fundamentals of water treatment processes.
Students undertaking this module will learn about the human and physical aspects of the Mediterranean environment. The module will focus on the distribution, allocation and use of water, whilst exploring the ways in which land use or land management affect the water environment.
Students will learn about the physical constraints on water availability whilst analysing the role of government institutions and private companies in developing and managing water for a range of purposes.
By participating in a four-day field course, students will have the opportunity to experience the distinctive environmental, cultural and socioeconomic nature of the Istrian peninsula. Generally, the module is designed to develop students' independent and group-based skills and enhance their knowledge related to water, particularly in the Mediterranean environment.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Geography graduates can achieve success in a variety of exciting careers. Recent examples of career opportunities have included entering the professions of Planning Officer, Environmental Consultant, Geographical Information Systems Officer, Weather Forecaster, Emergency Planner, Technical Consultant with the Ordnance Survey, Intelligent Transport Systems Consultant, working within the energy sector, or Water Waste Management at Severn Trent Water. Alternatively, many of our graduates choose to continue their studies to postgraduate level.
Our goal is to empower all our graduates with the skills, confidence and experience they need to achieve a successful career. You will be offered a wide range of support, helping you realise your career ambitions and providing you with the skills to reach your full potential.
We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities and volunteering opportunities that enable you to explore your interests and enhance your CV. Our weekly careers bulletin and careers blogs are written by student volunteers, and inform you of all careers events. The Green Lancaster programme run by the Students Union offers placements with external organisations, allowing students to gain volunteering experience at weekends by working in the local community, taking part in a wide range of activities and developing their practical skills.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2018/19 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2017 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
Lancaster University's priority is to support every student to make the most of their life and education and we have committed £3.7m in scholarships and bursaries. Our financial support depends on your circumstances and how well you do in your A levels (or equivalent academic qualifications) before starting study with us.
Scholarships recognising academic talent:
Continuation of the Access Scholarship is subject to satisfactory academic progression.
Students may be eligible for both the Academic and Access Scholarship if they meet the requirements for both.
Bursaries for life, living and learning:
Students from the UK eligible for a bursary package will also be awarded our Academic Scholarship and/or Access Scholarship if they meet the criteria detailed above.
Any financial support that you receive from Lancaster University will be in addition to government support that might be available to you (eg fee loans) and will not affect your entitlement to these.
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Please note that this information relates to the funding arrangements for 2017, which may change for 2018.
Students will be required to pay for travel to field sites and will have to purchase wet weather clothing, boots and waterproof notebooks for fieldtrips for which the estimated cost is approximately £110. The course offers optional field trips and students will have to pay for any travel and accommodation costs. If students undertake placements then they may incur additional travel costs. Students on certain modules may wish to purchase a hand lens and compass clinometer but these may be borrowed from the Department.
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.