Abstract Drowned landscapes are important archives documenting palaeoenvironmental response to abrupt climate and sea-level changes characteristic of the Quaternary. Analysis of high resolution geophysical and core data has revealed preservation of fluvial, coastal, shallow marine and periglacial deposits on the continental shelf in the eastern English Channel, thus providing an ideal field site to test the application of optical dating to a variety of depositional environments presently submerged beneath the sea. A stratigraphic model detailing the sequence and nature of sedimentary processes operating on the shelf in relation to post-glacial relative sea-level change is presented as a framework to test the reliability of optical ages. The single-aliquot regenerative-dose protocol was applied to 1 mm aliquots of fine quartz sand and individual aliquots were rejected following the criteria proposed by Wintle and Murray (2006). All samples demonstrate a range of intrinsic sensitivities with a sufficient number of grains giving enough light to enable reliable estimation of De. Different age models, CAM and MAM-3, were used to establish palaeodose and the robustness of these age models was tested using a bootstrapping technique. Coastal sediments show evidence of incomplete bleaching limiting confidence in age estimates. Quartz deposited in fluvial, periglacial and shallow marine environments is suitably bleached and OSL sensitive to enable reliable estimates of De. Changes in environmental dose must be considered when interpreting ages from sediments that have experienced repeated relative sea-level cycles. Ages in the range of 107.8 ka to 5.3 ka were calculated that are remarkably consistent with the stratigraphic model, thus demonstrating the successful applicability of optical dating to drowned landscapes.