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Understanding Arid Environments and Library Resources for Students - Oxford Brookes University

Introduction to Arid Environments

This module develops an understanding of the nature and extent of arid environments and their interaction with the global climate systems across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Longterm and short-term variations in climate, the nature and extent ofdrylands, and the rates and types of processes operating in these environments will be explored. Human impacts on drylands (desertification, salinisation, deforestation) and the impact that future climate change may have on dryland systems will also be examined.

The Library at Oxford Brookes University is of primary importance as an information resource whilst you are a student here. The specialist resources for students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences are based on the Headington and Harcourt Hill sites and are supported by a highly qualified team of specialist Academic Liaison Librarians. The Library home page is at and from here you can navigate to the resources you need.

You can find the module reading list online by going to the Library home page, clicking on “Reading lists” on the SEARCH box and entering the module name or number. This will include information about where print books are in the Library and links to e-books, online journal articles and other sources.

Your first priority will probably be to find books on your reading list and this can be done by going to the Library home page and clicking on ‘Books and e-books’, and entering the title, author or other information into the search box.

You will also probably want journal articles on your reading list and these can also be accessed from the Library home page by clicking on ‘E-journals by title’ then entering the title of the journal in which the article appears.

Students completing this module will be given the opportunity to:

1. Attend lectures, discussion sessions and mapping practical to understand the global distribution of drylands and the  climatological drivers of aridity (past, present, future)

2. Undertake personal research and reading into a specific aspect of dryland systems

3. Critically evaluate the methods used to understand the physical processes operatizing in dryland (weathering rates, aeolian processes)

4. Develop insights into how dryland systems can be managed

5. Assessment for this module is in line with the Brookes Assessment Compact with feedback throughout the module.

6. Formative assessment is provided throughout the duration of this module via verbal feedback on student contributions to discussions, and written feedback provided on essay reports.

Exploring Climate Change in Dryland Systems

Choose one essay from the following (max. 2000 words) = 50%. Deadline Weds 1 pm week 11 via Turnitin.

1. Outline the main controversies involved in the desertification debate.

2. Can the processes of desertification be reversed? Outline what techniques and methods are available for desert rehabilitation.

3. Using examples, discuss the contention that climate change in drylands has played a pivotal role in the development of early human populations.

4. What do the various dune types tell us about their formative processes?

5. Evaluate the relative roles of water and wind in shaping arid zone geomorphology.

6. Evaluate to what extent salt is an aggressive agent in the breakdown of rocks and structures in arid regions. What factors can be adopted to combat such problems?

7. Outline the ways in which desert ecosystems are distinctive from those in other environmental/climatic settings.

8. Compare and contrast the processes responsible for geomorphic change on Earth and Mars.

Assessment Criteria

• All points as High A, in addition;

• Work characterised by creativity/originality throughout.

• Outstanding selection of theory in key areas

• Clear identification, analysis and evaluation of the issues

• Knowledgeable and appropriate application to theory

• Evidence of evaluation/justification/critical thought throughout

• Offers an original contribution to scholarship in the field.

• Analytical comment, critical evaluation and independent discussion of a publishable

• Comprehensive coverage of content and theory within the constraints of word limits

• Own ideas developed and fully justified from theoretical frameworks.

• Excellent selection of content in key areas

• Extensive evidence of wide and relevant reading.

• Knowledgeable and appropriate application of theory.

• Evidence of evaluation/ justification/critical thought throughout.

• Clear identification, analysis and evaluation of the issues.

• Comprehensive coverage of content/ theory within constraints of word limits.

• Work which offers a contribution to scholarship in the field through sensitive

• engagement with a full range of critical/theoretical/ historical secondary source s

• Analytical comment, critical evaluation and independent discussion of a high order

• Comprehensive coverage of content and theory within the constraints of word limits

• Own ideas developed and justified from

• Logical, coherent and lucid in all areas.

• Excellent focus on module aims and themes.

• Analytical comment, critical evaluation and independent discussion of a high order.

• Conclusions well-argued and substantiated

• In addition to the B and B+ criteria listed below:

• Examples of creativity/ originality/ imagination/ insight.

Library Resources for Students at Oxford Brookes University

• Offers analytical comment, critical evaluation and independent discussion

• Comprehensive coverage of content/ theory within the constraints of word limits

• Rigorous handling of evidence

• Own ideas developed and justified from theoretical frameworks

• Realistic evaluation of work, with appropriate rationale

• Critical apparatus (i.e. bibliography, references, notes) full and accurate

• Communicative skills of a very high order

• Information reasonably full and accurate, well presented

• Logical, coherent and lucid

• Appropriate selection of content/ theory/ style in key areas

• Clear identification of the issues

• Evidence of wide and relevant reading

• Appropriate application of theory

• Evidence of evaluation/ justification/ critical thought

• Referencing relevant and accurate

• Clear evidence of understanding

• Grammar, spelling and punctuation accurate

• Good focus on module's aims and themes

• Conclusions well-argued and substantiated

• Generally competent thinking and presentation

• Thought given to selection of content

• Identification of main issues of the subject

• Evidence of reading around the subject

• Some application of theory

• Evidence of evaluation/ justification/ critical thought

• Mostly accurate referencing

• Reasonable level of understanding of the topic area

• Some focus on module's aims and themes

• Grammar, spelling and punctuation largely accurate

• Conclusions largely well-argued and substantiated

• Shows an attempt to be logical, coherent and organised

• Appropriate selection of content/ theory but some key aspects may be missed

• Evidence of reading

• Superficial evaluation

• Referencing present

• General understanding of concepts

• Critical thought and rationale for work adequately demonstrated

• Written work is mainly focused on module’s aim and themes

• Meaning apparent, but language not always fluent

• Some inadequacies in grammar, spelling and punctuation

• Question asked is not addressed, thinking confused/ illogical

• Content/ theory inaccurate or inappropriate or disorganised

• Meaning unclear

• Significantly under/ over/ required length as specified in module handbook

• Absence of references

• Critical thought/ analysis/ theory lacking

• Value judgements/ generalisations unsupported

• Appropriate reading not very evident

• Written work does not address module’s aims and themes

• Not sufficiently literate, conclusions insubstantial/ invalid

Presenting coursework for assessment

Your assignment must be presented in the following format:

? It must be word-processed in 11 point Arial font and double-spaced

? All pages must be numbered

? Margins must be as follows: Top: 1 inch, Bottom: 1 inch (2.5 cm), Left: 1.25 inches, Right:

The length of an assignment is limited by a set number of words to contribute towards the development of writing skills and to ensure all work is assessed equitably. We therefore require you to complete your assignments within the number of words specified in the assignment brief. The specified word count refers to the main body of the report and does not include front cover, title page, contents page, executive summary, reference list, bibliography or appendices. The word count does include headings, tables and in-text citations, but not equations or diagrams. Appendices themselves will not be marked. However, inappropriate use of appendices will be taken into consideration when awarding the final mark.

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