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At Home on Earth and in the Universe? Humanity’s Big Question

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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The relationship between nature and human nature is key to understanding and valuing the contemporary earth environment. The sciences, technology and arts present us with a visual culture of images containing both truth and beauty.

But the humanities are needed to interpret these and determine our understanding and attitudes towards our planet earth. This interdisciplinary approach provides a public space for architecture, landscape, local and global governance, to react coherently to problems of natural hazards, sustainability, global warming and climate change.

Space exploration, astronomy and cosmology also provide us with perspectives on Earth in a solar system and the universe. They also set up huge questions concerning the human place in the cosmos, of extra-terrestrial life and intelligence.

This course will consider interdisciplinary insights and answers from the sciences, arts and humanities. Topics will include:

A central theme of the day schools will be ‘Landscape and Geomorphology’, the latter indicating a study of the underlying processes whereby the Earth’s surface features are formed. ‘Landscape’ describes the nature of this surface, where humans live in urban or rural environments, and it is the conditions here that principally determine the quality of life and whether we feel ‘at home’.

We will therefore use as the course text the book Landscape and Geomorphology, A Very Short Introduction, Andrew Goudie and Heather Viles, Oxford University Press 2010, £7.00 (cheaper on Amazon). All students enrolling for this course should if possible purchase a copy and bring it along to each class. It provides a remarkably interdisciplinary coverage of most of the topics in the course outline given above. A supplementary reference list of sources will be supplied in each of the day schools. Reading material will also be made available through handouts and on line via Learning Central.

Each day school will employ group work and seminar presentations/discussion using PowerPoint and video.


Anyone with an interest in the fascinating and productive interaction between science, arts and humanities disciplines.


There will be a mixture of short lectures and discussion, the precise proportion to be determined by the needs of the students enrolled. Also we will discuss examples and case-studies. This will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding of the ideas and concepts discussed in the course. Intellectual skills will be encouraged through participation in class discussion, reading and coursework.


Essays or other equivalent written assignments to a total of 1500 words demonstrating an understanding of core elements of the course material

For us, the most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

You will not have formal examinations but you may have class tests. You may be asked to write assignments, keep a course journal or put together a portfolio. Our assessments are flexible to suit the course and the student.


The tutor will recommend key texts and other reading materials.


As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on
(029) 2087 0000.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.


A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices. This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.