Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 GEOG module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This third year elective module examines global, regional, and local-scale changes in sea-level from the last glacial maximum to the present, projections for the future, how coasts have developed, how they operate, and how they may develop in the future.


  • Driving mechanisms
  • Relative sea-level change
  • Rapid events - including storm surges, earthquakes and tsunami
  • Future sea-level changes - current knowledge, hazards and management
  • The instrumental era of sea-level measurement
  • Coastal responses to sea-level change and coastal management
  • Project work

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to be able to:
  • Comprehend and evaluate the patterns and processes controlling long-term coastal evolution and relative sea-level change, including the methodology of data collection and analysis
  • Describe and explain the causes and importance of rapid events in coastal change
  • Evaluate evidence of historic sea-level change, and the significance of the past to understand the contect of modern and future sea-levels
  • Assess the human / physical interface through emphasis on issues surrounding future climate and sea-level rise
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Identify and evaluate and from the scientific literature the type of evidence that records coastal response to changes in sea-level, sediment supply and energy
  • Analyse and interpret historical sea-level change data
  • Undertake original research in sea-level change science
Key Skills:
  • Examination and analysis of quantitative data sources
  • Students are expected to define a research problem, produce their own research findings, design and illustrate a poster displaying their work, defend this presentation orally, and write a scientific abstract of the work
  • Present a critical synthesis of a particular project
  • Work as a team in the development of a group poster which links directly to an individual poster presentation combining to form the summative assessment
  • Review previous work, assess its quality

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

  • This module uses a range of teaching, learning, and assessment techniques
  • Much of the module is lecture-based, where students will learn about the processes of sea-level change, but also issues and debates at the cutting edge of research.
  • Students complete two data analysis practicals linked to topical issues in sea-level research which provide data analysis skills relevant to the summative research projects. The third practical relates to stakeholder engagement, decision-makring and coastal planning
  • Students complete a group research project at an advanced level which allows them to investigate a debate or specific topic in sea-level research and engage with the opportunities and problems faced by researchers investigating that issue.
  • Each group of students is provided with a set of research projects linked to contemporary issues in sea-level research from which they elect one project for analysis
  • The project work provides an opportunity for advanced level research
  • The module employs formative assessment to help students to develop their project presentation and data management skills, summative assessment to assess advanced understanding of issues in sea-level science, and a summative poster presentation which develops written and oral presentation skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 12 Weekly 2 hours 24
Computer Practicals 3 Term 1 2 x 3 hours; 1 x 2 hours 8
Tutorials (summative project groups) 4 Terms 1 & 2 0.5 hours 2
Self-guided Practicals (group work) 4 Terms 1 & 2 2 hours 8
Summative Presentation (individual) 1 Term 2 0.5 hours 0.5
Preparation and Reading 157.5
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%
Component: Group poster Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group poster (A0 size) 100%
Component: Individual poster presentation Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual poster presentation 15 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Group project presentation to member of staff supervising each group project. Feedback from staff member on project design, content and initial analysis will be provided during the tutorials.

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