ENVU4E4: The Biosphere

CO-ORDINATOR: Dr Jens-Arne Subke

Before taking this module it is advised that you should have passed:

  • Building Planet Earth (ENV1GE)
  • or Landscape Evolution (ENV2LE)
  • or An Introduction to Ecology (ENV3EC)
  • or Building Planet Earth (ENVU1GE)
  • or Landscape Evolution (ENVU2LE)
  • or An Introduction to Ecology (ENVU3EC)

Module Description

This course forms part of the Environmental Science and Environmental Geography degree programmes taught in the School. Aim of the course is a general introduction to the biosphere, covering general biogeochemical principles, element cycles and energy flow in ecosystems, and interdependencies between the biosphere and the abiotic environment. Lectures will discuss these for all major life zones to provide a comprehensive overview of the governing biochemical processes in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems from the Arctic to the Tropics. The course builds on knowledge of the physical environment, soil processes and ecological principles taught during semesters 1 to 3 (ENVU1GE – Building Planet Earth, ENVU2LE – Landscape Evolution, ENVU3EC – An Introduction to Ecology).

Module Objectives

The course aims to introduce students to the functioning of ecosystems and their component communities at a range of scales from local to global.

Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of biochemical principles and processes governing fluxes of energy, carbon and nutrients at different scales
  • An understanding of the nature and functioning of nutrient cycling in ecosystems
  • An awareness of the impacts of environmental change on ecosystem processes
  • Training in techniques of ecological analysis of soil and vegetation
  • Training in effective use of literature searches and citation of scientific results in reports and essays


Scheduled Teaching: 38 hours
Independent Study: 162 hours
Placements: 0 hours


Coursework: 50%
Examination: 50%
Practical: 0%


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