Dr Des McDougall


Deputy Head of School and Principal Lecturer in Geography

Geography and Archaeology

Contact Details

email: d.mcdougall@worc.ac.uk
tel: 01905 855440


  • PhD: Loch Lomond Stadial Plateau Icefields in the Lake District, NW England (Glasgow, 1998)
  • BSc (Hons) Geography (Glasgow, 1991)


I am a physical geographer with particular interests in glaciers and glaciation, mountain geomorphology, and Quaternary environmental change. These themes feature in both my teaching and research activities. I also have a developing interest in GIS, remote sensing and geomorphological mapping. In addition, I have a substantive management role within the Institute of Science and the Environment.

Research Interests

Whilst I enjoy working in contemporary glacial environments, my main passion is the reconstruction of former glaciers and climate in upland Britain. The period of time I am most interested in is the Younger Dryas (12,900 11,700 years ago), which was the last time glaciers were present in the British Isles. This event is climatologically interesting for a number of reasons: (i) it interrupted the warming that marked the end of the last glacial; (ii) it was characterised by abrupt temperature changes throughout; (iii) its impact was most pronounced in the North Atlantic region, which in turn has led to suggestions that this cooling may have been associated with a major reorganisation of ocean currents. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Younger Dryas is one of the most intensively studied events in the climate record, with research in this area contributing to a better understanding of the mechanisms of rapid climate change.

My own research focuses on the glaciers that developed in the Lake District during the Younger Dryas. This involves geomorphological mapping (using GIS) and fieldwork, and I am probably happiest when deciphering subtle and fragmentary landform evidence in order to reconstruct and visualise past environments! In general, my research has shown that the landform record is somewhat more complex and fragmentary than previously thought. Working in the central Lake District, for example, I was able to show that the valley glaciers reconstructed by earlier workers were actually outlet glaciers draining widespread summit icefields. Following a period when my attention was focused elsewhere on non-research activities, I have returned to the Lake District for a new project (which I am currently writing-up for publication). I am also involved in a supervisory capacity in Danni Pearces doctoral research in the Tweedsmuir Hills (Southern Uplands), and I am about to start a collaborative project in the Lake District with researchers from Durham.


I am Acting Head of Science and the Environment. I also teach on a number of modules, including the Highlands Field Course (GEOG2003), the Mountain Environments Field Course (GEOG3004), Mountain Geomorphology (GEOG2010) and Mountain Glaciers and Landscape (GEOG3017). All these modules benefit to some extent from my research activities, both in terms of subject knowledge and specialist skills. With regards to the latter, having recently developed expertise in the use of GIS for geomorphological mapping, I have spent some time over the last year developing new practical activities that have enabled students to learn these skills in GEOG2010 and especially GEOG3017. Although these exercises are relatively time-consuming to run, contact time is generous at Worcester and resource provision is good.

I am also interested in e-learning, especially the use of virtual fieldwork. The latter can be used in a number of ways, including: preparing students for residential fieldwork; allowing students to virtually revisit field course locations; providing fieldwork opportunities to sites that cannot be visited in person; enabling students to revisit a site virtually at a different time of year. At the University of Worcester, Dr Ian Maddock and I have developed two virtual field courses. The Hazard Mapping Virtual Field Course allows students to develop their skills in identifying and mapping a range of mountain hazards, and the Virtual Hike resource provides a more general introduction to identifying a range of geomorphological features in an Alpine terrain. The latter is especially useful, and helps students prepare for their physical geography residential field course based in the Swiss and French Alps. More recently, I have worked with Dr Alan Dixon in developing Virtual Metu, a virtual field course to the western Ethiopian Highlands where students taking the Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa module can undertake virtual fieldwork and listen to stakeholder interviews.


Current Teaching
Earth Systems, Processes and Landscapes (GEOG1110)
Second Year Residential Course (GEOG2100)
Mountain Landforms, Landscapes and Hazards (GEOG2120)
Mountain Environments Field Course (GEOG3110)
Mountain Glaciers and Landscape Research Project (GEOG3123)
Ice Age Environments (GEOG3124)

Responsibilities (Internal and External)

Staff Governor - University of Worcester Board of Governors [2013 - ]

Audit Committee Member [2013 - ]

ISE Recruitment Committee Chair [2009 - ]

ISE Board member [2008 - ]

Deputy Head of Institute [2016 - ]

Associate Head of Institute [2011 - 2016]

Head of Geography and Archaeology [2004 - 2015]

External Examiner - Staffordshire University [2009 - 2013]

Worcestershire County Council Climate Change Committee [2007 - 2009]


McDougall (2016) Landforms of High Mountains (book review). Mountain Research and Development, 36, 250-251.




Evans, D.J.A. and McDougall, Derek (2015) Bedrock Geology and Physiography. In: The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, pp. 1-8. ISBN 0 907 780 164 ISSN: 0261 3611




Bickerdike, H.L. and Evans, D.J.A. and McDougall, Derek and Vieli, A. (2015) Overview of the Younger Dryas Glaciation in the Lake District. In: The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, pp. 29-64. ISBN 0 907 780 164 ISSN: 0261 3611




McDougall, Derek and Bickerdike, H.L. and Evans, D.J.A. (2015) Glaciation Style and Moraine Development in the Pasture Beck and Hayeswater Valleys. In: The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, pp. 111-128. ISBN 0 907 780 164 ISSN: 0261 3611




McDougall, Derek and Bickerdike, D.J. and Evans, D.J.A. and Vieli, A. (2015) Glaciation in Deepdale. In: The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, pp. 541-254. ISBN 0 907 780 164 ISSN: 0261 3611




McDougall, Derek and Pearce, D. (2015) Little Gatesgarthdale (Honister Pass). In: The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London, pp. 191-200. ISBN 0 907 780 164 ISSN: 0261 3611




McDougall, D.A. and Evans, D.J.A. (2015). The Quaternary of the Lake District: Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London. 268pp




McDougall, Derek (2014) The Climate of Worcestershire. In Maskew, R. (ed) The Flora of Worcestershire. Roger Maskew.




Pearce, D., Rea, B, Bradwell, T and McDougall, D (2014) Glacial geomorphology of the Tweedsmuir Hills, Central Southern Uplands, Scotland. Journal of Maps, 10, 457-465.




McDougall, Derek (2013) Glaciation style and the geomorphological record: evidence for Younger Dryas glaciers in the eastern Lake District, northwest England. Quaternary Science Reviews, 73 (1). pp. 48-58. ISSN 0277-3791




McDougall, D.A. (2001) The geomorphological impact of Loch Lomond (Younger Dryas) Stadial plateau icefields in the central Lake District, northwest England, Journal of Quaternary Science 16 (2001), pp. 531–543.




Rea, B.R., Whalley, W.B., Evans, D.J.A., Gordon, J.E. and McDougall, D.A. (1998) Plateau icefields: geomorphology and dynamics. Quaternary Proceedings. Quaternary Proceedings, 6, 35-54


McDougall, D (2012). Glaciation Style, Paraglacial Reworking and the Geomorphological Record: The Challenges of Reconstructing Younger Dryas Glaciers. (Oral presentation at EGU AGM, Vienna.). Link to abstract.

McDougall, D. (2008) Virtual Fieldwork: Enhancing the Student Experience? (Oral Presentation at the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, Harrogate, July 2008)

McDougall, D. (2007) Hazard Mapping in Mountain Environments: A Virtual Field Course. (Oral presentation at Virtual Fieldwork in the GEES Disciplines: Pedagogy and Technology, University of Worcester, May 2007).

Pearce, D, Rea, B and McDougall, D. (2012) Lateglacial geomorphology in the Tweedsmuir Hills, Scotland - Implications for retreat patterns, glacier reconstruction and chronology. (Poster presented at the EGU AGM, Vienna)

Conference Organisations
Virtual Fieldwork in the GEES Disciplines: Pedagogy and Technology (University of Worcester, May 2007).