Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOL1081, Further Mathematics for Geoscientists.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of the structure and dynamics of the interior of the Earth, how these are investigated and modelled numerically, and to understand current research approaches.


  • Earthquake seismology.
  • Heat flow.
  • Mantle geodynamics.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To understand why earthquakes occur and how they are measured.
  • To understand earthquake magnitudes and source physics.
  • To understand how to apply seismic observations to image mantle structure.
  • To understand the implications of seismic measurements for mantle dynamics.
  • To understand the processes by which heat is transferred within the solid Earth.
  • To understand the physics behind mantle convection.
  • To understand how mantle convection can be studied using observations of heat flow, large-scale topography, and seismology.
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of the structure and composition of the Earth accross different geological timescales.
  • To understand the structure and dynamics of the Earth’s core.
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of Earth materials.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Manipulate earthquake data to extract key parameters.
  • Solve numerical problems using both computer-based and paper-based techniques.
  • Critically evaluate the assumptions and uncertainties inherent in a model or analysis.
  • Make simplifying assumptions to enable analysis of a complex geological problem or situation.
  • Acquire the skills to synthesise data from a variety of sources.
  • Acquire the skills to analyse, evaluate and interpret geophysical and geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Develop problem-solving skills, initiative and persistence in tackling unfamiliar and challenging questions through supervised practical work and summative assessments.
  • Develop skills to discuss, evaluate, and review work with colleagues through peer review and discussion.
  • Evaluate and reflect on assumptions and uncertainties in analysis through supervised practial work and summative assessments.

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

  • The module is delivered through a mix of one-hour lecture and two hour practical slots, supported by handouts, directed reading and web-based material.
  • The practicals provide opportunities to apply principles, concepts and theory to case studies and practical examples.
  • Summative assessment comprises 40% practical work and writing through which students can demonstrate data acquisition, interpretation, reporting; integration and evaluation of complex ideas and multiple datasets; and other key skills.
  • 60% of assessment is an unseen written exam which challenges students to demonstrate grasp of theoretical principles, application of methods, independent learning and time-management.
  • Formative assessment is provided via peer-marked class tests, peer-review and discussion in preparation for summative assessment 3, and DUO tests. Verbal and written feedback will guide students to develop the ability to manipulate earthquake data, extract key parameters, solve numerical problems and evaluate assumptions and uncertainties.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills is provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 Weekly 1 Hour 19
Practicals 19 2 Hours 38
Reading and study of class hand-outs, preparation for and execution of formative and summative assessments, background reading both directed and independent, and revision for summer examinations. 142
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Two-hour unseen written examination 100%
Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Continual assessment 1 25%
Continual assessment 2 25%
Continual assessment 3 50%

Formative Assessment:

Peer-review of short written assignments and a formative test during Epiphany term will feed forwards into summative assessment 3 and the summer examination.

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