Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The aim of this module is to provide students with fundamental knowledge of hydrological hazards, with a particular focus upon flood and drought risk, its causes, the role of pathways and feedbacks, the changing environmental drivers influencing them, including climate change, and the ways that risks might be investigated and managed as part of a risk management strategy.


  • The module will be divided into four themes
  • 1. Floods, droughts, drivers, sources, pathways and impacts
  • 2. Climate, rainfall and catchment processes, hazard quantification (statistical; rainfall-runoff modelling)
  • 3. River and floodplain processes
  • 4. Vulnerabilities, resilience and management; economic and social drivers of flood risk, approaches to vulnerability assessment, flood risk in catastrophe models

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • 1. Understanding of the primary drivers of flood and drought risk and the interactions between elements of the flood risk system, including feedbacks
  • 2. Understanding of the role played by environmental change, catchment management, and social and economic processes in driving hydrological hazards
  • 3. Understanding of the basics of the hydrological sciences required as inputs to flood risk analysis, and the associated tools used in those sciences.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 1. Ability to undertake return period analysis using the statistical method
  • 2. Ability to model hydrological problems (as an alternative to the statistical method) including awareness of data issues, calibration and validation.
  • 3. Ability to link flood hazard analysis to vulnerability questions, including the data and methods used in vulnerability analysis.
Key Skills:
  • 1. Critical Evaluation of published data and interpretations
  • 2. Technical skills in analysing data
  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to complete written work within word limits
  • 4. Demonstrate advanced essay writing skills

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

  • There are four modes of teaching: i) lectures will provide core understanding, including that associated with the subject knowledge, and the underpinning science and social science to enable acquisition of necessary subject skills; ii) practical exercises will be used to develop the specific subject skills, based around case examples linked to Durham research; iii) workshops will be used to develop student understanding of lecture-based material and to explore key outcomes from practical exercises completed to make sure that subject skills are fully developed, as well as to provide generic training on the identified key skills; and iv) a field day. Independent study will be required of students to deepen their subject knowledge through reading, which will be discussed and developed through workshops, and to develop their practical skills, with practical classes assisting with these.
  • We will assess subject knowledge by asking students to provide a written review of the fundamental elements of a flood risk analysis and the associated limits of such analyses. We will assess subject skills through short practical exercises linked to each practical.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 2 hours 20
Practicals 4 1 2 hours 8
Workshops 3 1 2 hours 6
Field class 1 1 8 hours 8
Independent learning 258
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100% Yes
Component: 4 reports writing up practical exercises Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
4 x reports on practical exercises 4 x 750 word reports writing up practical exercises 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will be provided through; i) providing students with an opportunity to complete an essay plan which they will be given feedback prior to completing a separate sumamtive essay ii) formative practical task set in lecture 1 or 2; iii) written feedback on each practical. 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