KE6001 - Cold Landscapes

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about polar and non-polar cold landscapes. The module will provide you with an understanding of the distinctiveness of mountain and polar cold environments, and will provide the physical framework to investigate a wide range of processes which operate in these landscapes. You will learn how to interpret how physical processes impact on human usage of mountainous and polar terrain, and you will learn to appreciate the significance of linking diverse process domains such as meteorology, hillslopes, rivers, and snow/glacier ice.

Your learning will additionally facilitate an understanding of human interaction with the physical environment.

Specific topics covered may include:

• Mountain Environments: the distinctive nature of mountainous landscapes

• Paraglacial Geomorphology: landscape adjustment after the ice has gone
• Catastrophic Rock Avalanches: can hillslope processes control rivers and glaciers?
• Glacial Hazards: hazards posed by glacier recession and climatic change, and implications for development
• Mountain Meteorology: geographical controls and climatic characteristics of mountain meteorological elements
• Mountain Hydrology: rates, magnitude and routing of runoff from snow, ice and paraglacial areas
• History and politics of polar exploration
• Permafrost and periglacial processes
• Sea ice and the role of the polar oceans in the earth system
• Resources and ecosystems: exploitation, tourism, pollution and environmental sustainability

On completion of the module you will have developed an improved understanding and appreciation of the interaction between a range of landforms, landscapes and their formative processes in these environments and their connection to anthropogenic activities.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through two teaching ‘streams’. Stream 1 is primarily lecture-based (24h, including in-built seminars) and relates directly to assessed component 1. Stream 2 is more practical and comprises a combination of introductory lectures (8h) and IT practicals (16h) – this stream relates directly to assessment component 2.

Beyond timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of learning resources such as academic journal articles and books. Links to key resources will be provided via module- and topic-specific interactive reading lists, which will be accessed via the module electronic learning portal (Blackboard).

Lectures will be used to introduce key topics and concepts across the full range of topics covered on the module. Lectures will provide the basic overview for each topic, and you will be encouraged to supplement this knowledge through your own reading and critical analysis of literature provided by the module teaching staff (as reading lists), and additional material that you will find and engage with. Independent learning (80 hours) will aid your understanding of module themes and will enhance your broader understanding of the topic, enabling you to produce suitable essay-style exam answers.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include feedback from module teaching staff during small-group seminars (within scheduled lectures) and IT workshops. Module staff will respond to questions via the discussion board on the module eLP site to ensure that all students will benefit.

Lecture materials will be further supported by on-line resources available via the module eLP site. These resources will include an interactive reading list with on-line access to a number of key articles and which will be aligned with your weekly lecture programme.

You will be provided with individual feedback on module assessments in a timely manner. Staff will be available to go through this feedback with you in person if requested.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO1: Examine the processes which operate within polar and mountainous environmental systems and their role as the formative mechanism(s) for landform development.
• MLO2: Critically assess the impact of human activities on polar and mountain environments, including how these hazards can be managed.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO3: Independent synthesis of topic-specific information and critical analysis of key arguments and findings.
• MLO4: You will develop your skills in a range of computational tools and models to demonstrate you can quantitatively explore environmental data and critically analyse their results.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO5: Develop an increased awareness of the pressures of human activity (e.g. anthropogenic climate change, resource exploitation) on the natural environment.

How will I be assessed?

‘Stream 1’ content will be assessed via a written essay (MLO 1,2,3,5)
‘Stream 2’ content will be assessed via a report that will allow you to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that you have acquired while using the two computer models presented in this stream (MLO 1,3,4)

There will be 2 assessments each contributing 50% of the total mark.
For Stream 1 Students will choose 1 essay topic from a choice of 8. This essay will be no more than 1500 words.

For Stream 1
Students will write one report on the use of the computer model that has been presented.
This report will be no more than 1000 words.

Timely feedback will be provided for both modes of assessment in written/electronic form. Module staff will be available to talk through this feedback with you one-on-one during scheduled drop-in sessions. This feedback will serve to reinforce your learning and improve your confidence.


KE5001 Integrated Landscapes, OR
KE5002 Cold and Palaeo Environments



Module abstract

The module emphasises the links and feedbacks between physical processes operating in glaciated and formerly glaciated areas, and other ‘cold’ land (and sea-)scapes.

The module is delivered through a combination of lectures and IT practicals. Additional content is provided via topic-specific electronic reading lists.

The module will be assessed by an essay (50%) and a report demonstrating what you have learnt from the computer models presented in the practical session. (50%).

Course info

UCAS Code F800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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