UCL Earth Sciences


GEOL0043 Tectonic Geomorphology

This module examines the teleconnections and feedbacks that link tectonics, surficial processes and climate to provide better understanding of the Earth as an integrated system. Detailed notes and exercises in pdf format accompany each lecture.

Coordinator: Prof Andy Carter (Birkbeck)

Module details
TitleTectonic Geomorphology
UG CodeGEOL0043
CoordinatorProf Andy Carter (Birkbeck)
Other Contributors 
Credit15 credits
Written Exam70%
Pre-RequisitesNormally GEOL0004 Dynamic Earth
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement 
Total Number of Hours of Student Work188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem ClassesPractical exercises will accompany most lectures and will take ~15 hours. Each exercise will have a model answer to permit independent work.
Hours of Tutorials0
Days of Fieldwork0

The lectures and practicals are designed to provide understanding of the linkages between tectonics, surficial processes and climate by learning how landscapes can be mapped and the methods used to detect, date and define rates of landscape change

Main topics include:

  • The role of denudation, uplift and isostasy;
  • Methods and applications of terrain analysis;
  • Erosion and landscape change over the short to long-term;
  • Applications of relative and absolute dating methods;
  • The nature of climate - tectonic interactions;
  • How mountain belts evolve;
  • Passive margin evolution;
  • Developing models of landscape evolution.
  • Detailed notes will be provided as pdf files for each lecture and practical exercise.


To provide students with an holistic appreciation of how key geological, physical and chemical processes interact and combine to shape the Earth system in terms of climate, landscape evolution, and tectonic processes.


Knowledge and Understanding:
  • an holistic understanding of processes and systems that combine to influence the Earth’s geological, atmospheric and chemical evolution;
  • tectonics and landscape development;
  • feedback systems between geological processes and climate;
  • understanding of the processes and controls that govern landscape evolution.
Intellectual Outcomes:
  • critical evaluation of current and competing ideas of geodynamic processes, topographic development, landscape evolution and climate change;
  • analysis and synthesis of these separate lines of investigation into global models.
Practical and Transferable Outcomes:
  • effective use and evaluation of scientific databases;
  • effective communication of information in writing;
  • skills in writing, comprehension of scientific data and papers, mathematical calculation, manipulation of data using relevant software/research techniques, independent study, IT skills.