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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enhance understanding of the interconnectivity between different components of the Earth System and their relevance to climate.


  • Cycles of climate change: evidence and explanations.
  • Understanding present and past climates: moving heat around, forcing functions and feedback, the evidence.
  • Understanding the cryosphere - how ice sheets work.
  • Milankovitch pacemaker.
  • Evidence for rapid climate change.
  • Climate change on geological timescales.
  • The Monterey Event.
  • The rock record and ancient glaciations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To describe with reference to boundary and threshold conditions the processes governing present and past climates.
  • To describe how cryosphere and carbon dynamics influence global climate.
  • To critically evaluate the geological proxies for climate change.
  • To critically evaluate current hypotheses for rapid climate change.
  • To critically evaluate the value of solid Earth and general circulation models in climate simulation, hypothesis generation and testing.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in geological principles, terms, definitions and classifications.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in the Earth systems science.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Evaluate performance.
  • Receive, respond to and critically evaluate a variety of information and data sources.
  • Communicate effectively in written and graphical form.
  • Scientific writing
  • Prepare, process and interpret data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques.
  • Use the internet critically in communication and an information source.
  • Identify individual and collective goals.
  • Recognise and respect the views of other team members.

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

  • The module is delivered through a series of flexible 3-hour class meetings which will include lecture, discussion and practical exercises, supported by handouts, directed reading and web and computer-based assignments.
  • The discussions and exercises form an important component of the module encouraging learning and experience of tackling and solving problems individually in class, on DUO and in groups.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills are provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Tutorials 1 1 Hour 1
Practicals 20 2 Hours 40
Preparation and Reading 139
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
examination 100%
Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
continual assessment 1 50%
continual assessment 2 50%

Formative Assessment:

Tutorial. DUO quizzes. Formative writing assignments.

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