Understanding the Tropical Forests of SE Asia

Module code: GY3439

The tropical forests of SE Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia) are some of the most diverse in the world in terms of biodiversity and function, with about 20% located upon deep, carbon rich organic peat soils. 

However, these forest ecosystems are also some of the most threatened and disturbed in the world as a result of increasing population, global demand for wood products, agricultural sustainability and socio-economic development. In this module we shed light on the environmental and socio-economic roles that these forests play, the challenges they are facing, and what Geographers can do to provide answers to a number of research questions.

Topics covered

  • Climate of Tropical Forest regions
  • Organic soils
  • Carbon emissions
  • Recent agricultural activity (including palm oil plantations)
  • Forest characteristics
  • Land use and land cover changes
  • Fire as a driver for change in forested systems of SE Asia


  • 9 hours of lectures
  • 6 hours of seminars
  • 6 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 16 hours of tutorials
  • 113 hours of guided independent study


  • Literature review (50%)
  • Data analysis and write-up (50%)