Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Coastal Geomorphology: Physical Processes and Shoreline Management

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION Coastal geomorphology investigates the evolution of coastal landforms as well as the processes that act upon them. Drivers of coastal change include geology, climate, sea-level changes and waves. These factors help determine the large variety of coastal landforms. In using a systems approach, coastal features are interpreted as evolving with an input of energy and materials that give rise to landforms development in specific temporal and spatial dimension. This aspect will be a recurring theme throughout the study unit. In more recent times, coasts have suffered external pressures due to anthropogenic activity. Given the likely impacts of future climate change (e.g. sea-level rise and increased storminess) it is vital that we understand as fully as possible the resulting coastal changes.

This study-unit is made up of two parts:

1. The first part provides students with an understanding of the dynamic nature of coastal systems, including process-landform interactions. It explores the intrinsic and extrinsic processes associated with landform evolution, and their variability and controls at different spatial and temporal scales. Selected types of coastal environment, within both the local context and Euro-Mediterranean context, will be examined in relation to the geomorphic processes that operate within them and their morphological controls;
2. The second part is a field-trip which seeks to apply and reinforce the lecture-based knowledge within a local setting and examine coastal processes and landforms at a regional and micro-level.

Study-unit Aims:

1. Offer an comprehensive introduction to coastal processes which configure the coastal zone and coastal landforms;
2. Examine a range of coastal processes distinguish between processes operating on hard rocky coasts from those on soft dyanamic coasts;
3. Highlight the links between form and process in the coastal environment over a range of spatial and temporal scales;
4. Explore the processes that drive coastal morphological changes, such as sea-level change, tides and ocean waves and highlight the vulnerable nature of the coastal environment within the context of current global warming debates and with regards to future sea-level rise;
5. Discuss the nature of a range of coastal landforms and examine the links between form and process at a variety of temporal and spatial scales.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. demonstrate an advanced knowledge of coastal processes and resultant landforms through the use of international literature;
2. describe and analyse the risks and hazards associated with human occupancy of the coastal zone, with special reference to the Maltese Islands;
3. exhibit a knowledge of practical skills appropriate for the investigation of coastal environments, with special reference to selected zones on the Maltese Islands;
4. assimilate information from empirical and theoretical sources to interpret and discuss the role of coastal processes in topical planning issue.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. recognise and evaluate the range of processes and resultant landforms found in the coastal zone, including on land and in the nearshore zone;
2. apply logical thought in understanding how different components of the coastal system are linked;
3. critically evaluate the inter-linkages between the operation of different physical processes within the coastal zone on different time and space scales;
4. use a diverse range of specialised approaches and techniques to collect, analyse and present information on the natural coastal environment as well as describe and apply these approaches to address real-world problems.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Bird, E. (2008) Coastal Geomorphology: An Introduction, 2nd edition, Wiley, Chichester.
- Davis, R.A. and Fitzgerald, D.M. (2003) Beaches and Coasts, Blackwell, Oxford.
- Davidson-Arnott, R. (2010) Introduction to coastal processes and geomorphology. CUP, Cambridge. [e-book only]
- Cicin-Sain, B. and Knecht, R. 1998. Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management: Concepts and Practices, Island Press, Washington DC.

Supplementary Texts:

- Haslett, S.K. (2008) Coastal Systems. Routledge: London.
- Masselink, G., Hughes, M. And Knight, J. (2011) Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology (2nd Edition). Hodder and Stoughton: London.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (1 Hour) SEM2 Yes 50%
Fieldwork SEM2 No 50%

LECTURER/S Deguara Joanna Causon
Sephora Sammut

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.