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


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • GEOG4031 Practical Skills in Sea Level Science; GEOG4051 Glacial Geology and Geomorphology: From Process to Application, GEOGNEW05 Erosion and Orogenesis


  • To develop an advanced-level knowledge about flow, sediment and related geochemical processes and use this knowledge to understand the fluvial environment
  • To provide field- and practical-based training in the measurement, analysis and interpretation of the fluvial environment and to use this knowledge to develop conceptual and numerical models
  • Use these models to consider management strategies


  • The core of this module is a three-day field investigation of a UK river system taking an integrated approach to look at flow, sediment transport, geochemistry and management issues. It is augmented by a series of lectures / seminars which provide theoretical and conceptual understanding and workshops which develop skills as appropriate in laboratory methods and quantitative analysis of field data and the interpretation of numerical models. Students will work with staff as a collaborative team, so that the quantitative database developed during the module could ultimately be converted to material of publishable quality. Hence the field-study location will occasionally change according to research priorities. Example catchments include the River Tees (Durham / Cumbria), River Wharfe (Yorkshire) or the Dacre or Derwent (Cumbria).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A thorough understanding of the range of quantitative, process-based fluvial geomorphology, including hydrology and geochemistry where appropriate
  • An in-depth knowledge of current scientific literature
  • Advanced understanding of the professional approaches and styles of data compilation, interpretation and presentation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Plan, design, execute and report at an advanced research level on a team-based investigation of fluvial geomorphology
  • Undertake advanced fieldwork, laboratory analysis and interpretation of numerical models
  • Employ at a professional level a variety of technical and laboratory-based methods for the analysis of hydraulic, sediment and geochemical data. This analysis includes quantitative methods and data modelling
  • Conduct advanced quantitative methods on, and synthesize a complex and large data set, and present project results to a professional standard of potentially publishable quality
Key Skills:
  • Critical analysis and interpretation of data at a research level appropriate to a Masters degree
  • Planning, executing and reporting to a professional standard on intensive field-based investigations in rivers and their catchments
  • Solving problems and making reasoned decisions
  • Communicate effectively and professionally in written and graphical media
  • Apply advanced numerical and computational skills to complex data sets
  • 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 introducing key theoretical concepts
  • Preparation briefing before the field investigation formulates the context for the fieldwork programme, involving familiarization with and synthesis of complex location-based and conceptual literature, acquisition of, familiarization with and preliminary work on secondary data sources, aerial photography and digital elevation models using GIS
  • The field trip allows data acquisition by a co-ordinated investigation team and individually allows the implementation of field skills and best practise in the management of field data recording (including field notebooks) as previously developed at Levels 1-3
  • Post-fieldwork workshops involve primary and secondary data collation, analysis and preparation using numerical modelling and quantitative data analysis
  • Students will present their data and interpretations in seminars, which will be formatively assessed
  • Summative assessment is undertaken on a final project report and on two seminar / workshop practical reports through the year

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture/Seminar 1 Term 1 2 hours 2
Lectures/Seminar (fieldtrip Health & Safety briefing) 1 Term 1 2 hours 2
Lectures 3 Terms 1 and 2 1 hour 3
Fieldtrip 1 Term 1 3 days (7 hours per day) 21
Workshops 8 Terms 1 and 2 2 hours 16
Seminars 4 Terms 1 and 2 2 hours 8
Project Presentation Seminar 1 Term 2 3 hours 3
Self-directed learning 145
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Research 'grant' proposal Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research “grant” proposal (modelled on the NERC grant-application process) 3000 words 100%
Component: Wiki Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Develop a wiki documenting learning process, including field notes and interpretation, and results of the laboratory and workshop sessions (including data worked up as appropriate for use in the research proposal) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on field data records and note taking. Feedback in lectures/seminars through the year. Feedback in laboratories and workshops. Feedback in seminars on the development of the wiki. Feedback on 15-minute project presentation

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