Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to F802
Tied to F804


  • Sea-Level Change and Coastal Evolution (GEOG3191)


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This is a science-based module aimed at students wishing to develop postgraduate level knowledge about the discipline of sea-level science, including field methods of sea-level reconstruction, and knowledge of recent and abrupt changes in sea level that create hazards for society.


  • The module is concerned with understanding sea-level changes during the geological past, over the past few hundred years and the context for future changes and hazards. The module uses a science-based approach to examine global, regional and local changes in sea level both gradual and abrupt. Learning and teaching follows a hands-on approach with methods and techniques of sea-level reconstruction learnt through a 3 day residential field class, associated workshops and practical classes. These are supplemented by lectures to develop understanding of the key themes. Students work with staff as a collaborative team, so that the quantitative work secured during the module will ultimately be converted to a report that would be suitable for potential publication; hence the field study location will occasionally change according to research priorities.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding of the mechanisms causing, and evidence for, sea-level change; past, present and future
  • Critical evaluation of proxy methods of measuring sea-level change
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Plan, design, execute and report research appropriate to Masters level on a team-based investigation of sea-level reconstructions and techniques used to develop reconstructions
  • Undertake advanced fieldwork and laboratory analysis of material collected in the field and interpret results in the context of previous work
  • Employ at a professional level a variety of technical and laboratory-based methods for the analysis of modern and fossil sediments to reconstruct sea-level changes
  • Conduct advanced quantitative methods on the field and laboratory data, synthesize the data together, and present project results at a professional standard ready for publication in a scientific journal
Key Skills:
  • Critical analysis and interpretation of data at a research level appropriate to a Masters degree
  • Plan, execute and report to a professional standard on field-based investigations
  • Communicate effectively and professionally in written and graphical media
  • Identify, retrieve, interrogate and assimilate complementary data from primary and secondary sources

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

  • Core lectures covering key concepts.
  • Preparation workshop before the field investigation formulates the context for the fieldwork programme, involving familiarization with and synthesis of previous literature, acquisition of, familiarization with and preliminary work on secondary data sources and aerial imagery.
  • The field trip allows data acquisition by a co-ordinated team and individually allows the implementation of new field skills and best practice.
  • Post fieldwork practicals and workshop involve primary and secondary data collation, analysis and preparation using quantitative data analysis.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 4 Term 1 2 hours 8
Pre-fieldwork workshop 1 Term 1 3 hours 3
Field trip 1 Term 1 3 days (8 hours per day) 24
Practicals 6 Terms 1 and 2 3 hours 18
Workshop 1 Term 2 2 hours 2
Self-directed learning 145
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Practical Report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical Report 1 (field data) 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Oral feedback during fieldwork and practicals.

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