Module Catalogue 2023/24

GEO1020 : Introduction to Physical Geography

GEO1020 : Introduction to Physical Geography

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christine Batchelor
  • Lecturer: Dr Seb Pitman, Professor Andrew Russell, Professor Darrel Maddy, Professor Rachel Carr, Dr Stuart Dunning
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment




Physical Geography is a fundamental component of Geography. Understanding of the Physical Environment is essential for all Geographies as it underpins environmental management and gives essential context to, and widens our understanding of, patterns of human activity. Physical Geographical knowledge informs human interactions with a changing and dynamic environment. This module provides a ‘spring-board’ for more specialised Physical Geography modules in stages 2 & 3.

Aim: to provide an introduction to Physical Geography.

Specific aims:
(1) To provide an introduction to the development of Physical Geography
(2) To provide an introduction to the methods and approaches employed in Physical Geographical investigation.
(3) To provide an introduction to the Earth’s major physical systems with a focus on the lithosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.
(4) To provide understanding of the causes of change within these systems over a range of timescales.
(5) To provide an understanding of the relationship between physical processes and resulting landforms and landscapes.

Outline Of Syllabus

Atmospheric processes
Fluvial processes and landforms
Quaternary environmental change
The Lithosphere
Landscape dynamics
Coastal processes and landforms
The Cryosphere

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

(1) Understanding of the nature and scope of Physical Geography
(2) Understanding of methods and techniques employed by Physical Geographers
(3) Understanding of the Earth’s major natural systems.
(4) Understanding of the relationship between processes and forms with a range of process domains and across a range of time-scales.
(5) Understanding how the Earth’s major systems have changed in the past over a range of timescales.
(6) Understanding of the importance of Physical Geographical knowledge for human activity and environmental management.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Ability to synthesis and summarise information from literature.
Quality in Learning and Teaching (QuILT) Updated September 2012 Module Outline Form (MOF) Page 5 of 11
2. Ability to evaluate competing arguments and approaches to physical geography problems.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture41:004:00Live Online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00PIP
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1137:00137:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities41:004:00Structured Guided Learning - Asynchronous Online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time41:004:00Q&A and feedback sessions - Live Online
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide an overview of the principals of Physical Geography across a range of environments.

Guided independent activities will allow students to enhance their learning by engaging with a number of interactive websites and databases. Students will engage with physical geographical landscapes and themes via directed activities using photos and videos.

Timetabled Q & A sessions will allow the students to discuss the content of each block of teaching thereby consolidating their learning.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A50In-person, multiple choice exam.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M501200 words open-book essay. Set mid-term, deadline Jan assessment period.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay will test students' independent research and written presentation skills in addressing a physical geography question based on Semester 1 content.

Timed in-person exam (multiple-choice questions) will test understanding of concepts and techniques introduced in the Semester 2 lectures and supported by independent reading.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

The 4 live-online lectures will be given by Professor Darrel Maddy, who will not be teaching on campus due to health reasons.

Welcome to Newcastle University Module Catalogue

This is where you will be able to find all key information about modules on your programme of study. It will help you make an informed decision on the options available to you within your programme.

You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.