UCL Department of Geography
GEOGG131 Global Environmental Change
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GEOGG131 Global Environmental Change

CORE GEOGG131 - Global Environmental Change
(15 credits; Term 1)


Anson Mackay, Jonathan Holmes


The primary aim is to investigate topical environmental themes (important to the well-being of our planet) within the context of a long-term perspective (using palaeoscience approaches). A secondary aim is to encourage students to publicly participate in the themes developed on the course by the creation and maintenance of a weblog (‘blog’) site.


Human impact on the earth is increasingly seen as having global implications, so much so that a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has been proposed. This course will provide in-depth coverage of human impacts on many of the Earth’s ecosystems, drawing on research strengths within the department.

  • Natural and anthropogenic drivers of climate change
  • Global biogeochemical cycles
  • Land-use change and Planetary Boundaries
  • Abrupt climate change
  • Aquatic environments
  • Biodiversity and megafaunal extinctions
  • Societal responses


Writing and maintaining a blog on an environmental topic for 12 weeks (approx 3000 words)


The course is based mainly upon lectures

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course students should:

  • Be able to critically evaluate the drivers of climate change during the Holocene
  • Understand global biogeochemical cycles (e.g. C, N and Si) and how they have been disrupted by human activity
  • Understand the impact of humans on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
  • Be aware of how palaeoecological techniques can be used to further our understanding of changing biodiversity and climate change
  • Be able to critically evaluate human and climate impacts on different global ecosystems