Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.



Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This is a science-based module aimed at students wishing to develop postgraduate level knowledge about the spatial and temporal distributions and aspects of a variety of hazards. The aim of the module is to provide students with theoretical and practical training in how to understand and quantify the spatial and temporal dimensions of hazard.


  • Spatial and temporal scales of natural and anthropogenic hazards
  • Remote sensing techniques, data sets, and applications
  • Quantification of surface change and time-series analysis
  • Catastrophe modelling
  • Application to hazard response and mitigation

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding of the relevant spatial and temporal scales over which a variety of hazards act
  • Appreciation for the dominant controls on hazard dimensions, and how they vary with the underlying mechanism
  • Critical evaluation of remote-sensing methodologies and common data sets
  • Critical evaluation of methodologies, techniques, and limitations of surface change analysis
  • Understanding of how scale influences societal response to different hazards and the production of vulnerability
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Analysis of remotely-sensed data
  • Quantitative topographic and surface analysis
  • Manipulation of quantitative data including large datasets
  • Catastrophe modelling
Key Skills:
  • Critical evaluation of published data and interpretations
  • Technical skills in the laboratory and effective use of IT
  • Development of research skills – formulating research objectives, logistical planning and measuring outcomes against these objectives

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The first part of the module is concerned with understanding the spatial and temporal dimensions of hazards and hazardous events. Lectures and practicals will be used to discuss the various factors that set the scale of hazards, including their distribution in space, their duration in terms of primary and secondary effects, the relationships between event magnitude, frequency, and location, and the importance of spatial heterogeneity and connectivity. This will be followed by an overview of effective techniques, approaches, and data sets. Particular attention will be paid to new or innovative ways of quantifying hazard, including (but not limited to) new types of sensor, high-resolution data (in space or time), and new platforms. Throughout this first block, the emphasis will be on generic issues, challenges, and approaches to addressing research questions, rather than on the specific advantages or disadvantages of a particular method or data set.
  • The second part of the module is centered around a self-guided project using one or more of the data sets and techniques discussed in part 1, supported by workshops for exchange of ideas, generic quantitative techniques, and individual assistance. Project topics will be chosen from a list provided by staff, and may vary from year to year depending on availability of staff and appropriate data sets. Projects will be presented and discussed, and formative feedback given on the presentation, at the final module meeting.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Varies 2 hours 20
Practicals 5 Varies 3 hours 15
Workshops 4 Varies 2 hours 8
Self-directed learning 257
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Report Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 3000 words 100% Yes
Component: Practicals Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical 1500 words max for each practical lab report 34% Yes by alternative report
Practical 1500 words max for each practical lab report 33% Yes by alternative report
Practical 1500 words max for each practical lab report 33% Yes by alternative report

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on practical exercises 1 and 2, and discussion feedback on project presentation. NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University