Module Catalogue 2019/20

GEO1020 : Introduction to Physical Geography

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Andrew Russell
  • Lecturer: Dr Stuart Dunning, Dr Ian Stevens, Dr Anne-Sophie Meriaux, Dr Rachel Carr
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
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 and subject knowledge for the stage 1 Physical Geography field course module.
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

List of main themes covered
• Introduction to Physical Geography and its importance as a discipline
• History of Physical Geography
• Physical Geography at University-level
• Geology and tectonics
• Oceans
• Atmospheric processes
• Global climate and weather
• Regional and local climates
• Weathering and geochemistry
• Hillslopes and landform evolution
• Sediments and sedimentation
• Soils
• Catchment hydrology
• Fluvial geomorphology
• Dryland processes and forms
• Coastal geomorphology
• Glaciology
• Glacial geomorphology
• Periglacial geomorphology
• Biogeography
• Ecological processes
• Freshwater ecology
• The Quaternary
• The Holocene
• Contemporary climate change
• Vegetation and environmental change

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 ActivitiesLecture361:0036:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce the discipline of Physical Geography and its constituent components.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination601A20N/A
PC Examination602A20N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M301200 words
Essay2M301200 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Computer based exam assessments will test understanding of key concepts and knowledge in each semester.
Set essays will assess the ability of students to undertake independent research using appropriate bibliographic sources.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.