Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • GEOG1232 (Introduction to Geographical Research BSc) or GEOG1222 (Introduction to Geographical Research BA)


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to provide students with essential skills in acquiring, modifying, analysing and displaying geographical data.


  • This module will introduce students to a range of spatial analysis techniques that are at the core of many research applications in physical geography, by drawing on a range of examples from geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology and ecology. The module consists of lectures where the underlying theory and concepts behind different spatial analysis approaches will be taught and practical sessions during which students will apply those approaches using the appropriate software tools. This application of spatial analysis tools during practical sessions will focus on research themes linked to the expertise of staff. Students will be encouraged to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches within the context of different geographical phenomena or processes.
  • This module will:
  • Provide core skills to allow students to use spatial analysis techniques as part of independent geographical research
  • Provide students with an understanding of the principles underlying the representation, measurement, and analysis of spatial phenomena, in addition to appropriate statistical methods
  • Provide students with an overview of core concepts underlying Geographic Information Science and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Provide exposure to research-appropriate software
  • Enable students to visualise and interpret the results of spatial data analysis
  • Make students aware of the different sources of error and uncertainty in spatial data and spatial data processing

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module, students are expected to:
  • Have a broad, integrated knowledge and understanding of spatial analysis methods in physical geography, their principles and appropriate applications
  • Be aware of how best to access, use, interpret and evaluate spatial data within the context of research problems in physical geography
  • Have the ability to select suitable techniques for a given problem
  • Be able to describe, perform and evaluate a variety of spatial data analysis techniques with reference to a number of physical geographical examples
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module, students are expected to:
  • Have a knowledge of the basic principles of geographical information science and systems
  • Be able to create maps and understand the role of map projections when working with spatial data
  • Demonstrate awareness of a range of spatial analysis tools
  • Demonstrate the ability to collect or download spatial data and incorporate it into GIS analyses
  • Input, interrogate, manipulate, and present spatial data
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module, students are expected to:
  • Use industry standard and research-appropriate software packages to analyse spatial data, solve geographical problems and enhance employability
  • Formulate and evaluate questions, and identify and evaluate approaches to problem-solving using spatial data
  • Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise spatial data from a range of sources
  • Interpret and use numerical quantitative and statistical information effectively and appropriately
  • Develop good practice in data management
  • Demonstrate critical analysis and interpretation of data

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

  • Fortnightly online asynchronous lectures will provide an overview of the theoretical background to specific spatial analysis techniques that will then be tackled during the practical component of the module
  • Weekly computer practical classes will introduce students to the techniques of handling geographic information and will give them extensive practical experience to move beyond the theory presented in the lectures. These that are designed to be completed in 2 hours and provide significant opportunities for formative discussion
  • Workshops at the end of the module will be used to answer general, specific and technical questions to support students in their summative project work and to, guide students in the mastery of certain skills
  • Summative assessments will enable students to demonstrate all the key skills and subject knowledge outlined in the ‘Learning Outcomes’ section of this document in order to solve geographical problems. The summative assessments mimic expectations that employers have when wide-ranging spatial data needs to be combined, critically analysed and the findings presented in a clear, concise manner.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Fortnightly 1 hour 8
Practicals 16 Weekly 2 hours 32
Workshops 4 To take place after lectures & practicals 2 hours 8
Student preparation, self-led practical work and reading time 152
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Data Analysis and Report Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Data Analysis and Report 100%
Component: Project Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 100%

Formative Assessment:

· Formative feedback will be provided via regular discussion with staff and demonstrators during practicals and workshops. This will ensure key skills can be appropriately related to subject knowledge. · The Learn Ultra discussion boards will also support learning and in particular to address technical problems with individuals as they work through their practicals and assessments.

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