Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 Geography module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an advanced understanding of relationships and feedbacks between erosion, tectonics, and mountain building in active orogens


  • Four introductory lectures on (1) mountains as coupled erosion-tectonic systems, (2) active tectonics in mountain belts, (3) patterns and rates of glacial and fluvial erosion processes, and (4) major feedbacks between tectonic and erosional processes
  • Six discussion sessions, each focusing on 2-3 papers chosen by staff and led by small groups of students. Discussions will be oriented around a set of key questions that each paper sets out to address. Papers will be chosen to reflect disagreement or different points of view within the community on a particular aspect of erosion and orogenesis

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to be able to:
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of knowledge and understanding of (1) the rates, patterns, and major processes of erosion in mountain belts, (2) processes and patterns of tectonic activity, and (3) major feedbacks between tectonics and the Earth surface system
  • Demonstrate recognition of current debates and areas of uncertainty in the subject area
  • Be competent in accessing, assimilating, and presenting literatures of an advanced nature
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
  • Identify and relate the key physical processes that build mountain ranges
  • Appreciate and analyse the interactions and feedbacks between erosion, tectonics, and climate in shaping mountain ranges
  • Evaluate the use of different analytical techniques for studying mountain range evolution
  • Read and critically assess the scientific literature on erosion, tectonics, and climate
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate the ability to read, synthesise, and understand a range of current literature
  • Demonstrate skill in summarising and presenting a complex argument to a mixed audience of staff and students
  • Lead and sustain discussion by focusing on key questions or points
  • Demonstrate the ability to prepare a concise written summary of a complex and multi-faceted topic

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

  • The introductory lectures aim to provide students with an outline of key concepts in the topic area, to introduce and contextualize the literature that they will explore, and to give any relevant examples and case studies. Staff will also give example presentations to indicate to the students what is expected in the student presentations in subsequent weeks
  • The student preparation and reading time is devoted to reading key literature set by staff. Each student will be responsible (as part of a small group) for summarizing and leading discussion on one paper over the course of the module
  • Student-led discussions will allow students to explore, query, and better understand the assigned literature and will also allow them to develop their presentation skills. Staff will oversee and guide the discussion and will summarize the key points at the end of each session
  • Students will be summatively assessed (as part of a small group) on their presentation slides against the criteria laid out in the Geography Undergraduate Guide. This will allow staff to evaluate the students’ ability to read, summarise, and present complex topics from the scientific literature. Formative feedback will be provided on the presentation itself, but no summative assessment will be made on the presentation; this is intended to allow for different levels of confidence in presenting material to a large group
  • Students’ ability to synthesise material from across the entire module, and to prepare a concise account of that material, will be summative assessed via a short written summary of the topics covered in the module. This is intentionally limited to 3 pages in order to encourage students to focus on the key elements and common themes

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 4 Varies 1.5 hours 6
Seminars 6 Varies 1.5 hours 9
Reading and Preparation Time 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Slides connected with group presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Slides connected with group presentation Max 12 slides 100%
Component: Coursework Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework Assignment Max 3 pages A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback will be given on literature presentation and discussion skills

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