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Quaternary geology


Admission requirements

Earth sciences obtained.
For non-Archaeology students: basic knowledge of geological processes and landscapes.


This course provides a global overview of climate fluctuations in various climate zones, as known in the past 2,6 million years. The causes of these fluctuations will be discussed, as well as the way in which this dataset has been obtained (proxy data).
Subsequently, various proxy data will be compared. Especially the causes of the differences between proxies and the consequences for their interpretation of changes in a landscape will be investigated.

The second part of this course will focus on the interpretation of geological and soil maps. These maps provide insight in the dynamics of a landscape. The Netherlands will serve as an example, and practical sessions will be planned in which you will practice and work with maps and soil profiles.

Course objectives

  • To know the causes of the Cainozoic climatic decline and how this is reflected in the geological record;

  • To know the climatic variability in the main global climate zones, with emphasis on the Late Quaternary and Holocene;

  • To understand how environmental information can be translated into climate parameters;

  • To understand the limitations of the various climate proxy records;

  • To understand stratigraphical subdivisions;

  • To understand the difference between geological and soil maps en to use them to extract information needed for a landscape reconstruction.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals;

  • Online BlackBoard assignments with feedback.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14×2 hours of lectures;

  • 2×2 hours of practical sessions;

  • 200 pages of literature;

  • Assignments.

Assessment method

  • Written exam with open questions (60%);

  • BlackBoard assignments (40%).

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.

Reading list

D. Anderson, A. Goudie & A. Parker, Global Environments through the Quaternary. Exploring Evironmental Change. 2nd edition, Oxford University Press (2013). ISBN: 9780199697267.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. J.A. Mol.


Compulsory attendance at practical sessions.