Polar Environments module (GE32026)

Learn about how the Earth's Polar regions are responding to climate change, geopolitical and socio-economic factors, and how those changes affect us all.

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The Polar regions are rich in natural resources and linked strongly to the global climate system such that what happens in the Polar regions affects us all.

In this module, you will first learn about the rapid changes in the Arctic and Antarctic regions in response to climate change, and the far-reaching implications now and into the future.

We will also delve into the high political stakes involved as a consequence of potentially competing claims over resources and territory, as well as obligations to mitigate the effects of climate change in these sensitive regions.

Dundee boasts strong historical connections with Polar regions, which have included a once-thriving whaling industry, the building of ships capable of surviving Polar seas and ice pack (including RRS Discovery), and a crucial role for the city in the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’.

Frankly, you will be in the right city to study these environments! 

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • investigate the physical setting (including geology, landscape, and climate), and human dimensions (including exploration, resource exploitation, and geopolitics) of Polar environments, and their relevance to society
  • understand how Polar regions are responding to climate change and human activity
  • explore the connections between Dundee and the exploration and/or exploitation of Polar regions

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • abstract and synthesise information about Polar regions drawn from different disciplines
  • use both quantitative and qualitative information from a variety of sources
  • evaluate, interpret, and combine different types of geographical evidence (texts, imagery, archival data, maps, digitised, and laboratory data)
  • develop key skills in the analysis of research literature
  • summarise and articulate complex arguments in simple and effective ways
  • develop independent thinking

Assignments / assessment

  • Assessment 1: Cryosphere data report (25%)
  • Assessment 2: Scottish-Polar connections Poster (25%)
  • Unseen exam (50%)

Teaching methods / timetable

  • Lectures
  • Guest lectures from external speakers
  • Computer workshops
  • Museum and archive visits


This module is available on following courses: