Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to F600
Tied to F630
Tied to F643
Tied to F644
Tied to F645
Tied to F662


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce fundamental concepts of Earth observation and remote data acquisition.
  • To acquire basic geoscientific data visualization and analysis skills.
  • To gain geospatial skills and apply them to selected geoscience topics.
  • To acquire digital cartography skills and data plotting appropriate to communicating geoscientific datasets to diverse audiences.


  • This module will be a combination of lectures and IT-based practicals to introduce concepts and practice of geoinformatics and data analysis.
  • Case studies will highlight the application of remote sensing and geoinformatic methods to a range of Earth Science topics; including geohazards, resource estimation, environmental assessment.
  • Students will have an opportunity collect their own datasets, plot and interpret their own results.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The fundamentals of geoscientific data, remote sensing and data analysis methods.
  • How to investigate Earth processes using geoinformatic methods.
  • An understanding of the capabilities and limitations of Earth observation methods.
  • Enhanced understanding of selected Earth processes.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • IT skills and in particular a basic competence in GIS and high-level programming software.
  • Basic computer programming skills.
  • How to find/obtain geoscientific datasets and prepare them for analysis
  • Troubleshooting data issues and self-teaching via online forums/help tools.
  • Interpretation of Earth observation datasets.
  • Evaluation of uncertainties associated with particular datasets.
  • Carry out hypothesis driven analysis to understand limitations of results.
  • Preparation and presentation of geoinformatic outputs.
Key Skills:
  • Discipline specific skills: Critical analysis, practical competency.
  • Independent study skills.
  • Communication and presentation skills.
  • IT skills.
  • Entrepreneurial skills.
  • Personal effectiveness.

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

  • The module is delivered through a series of three-hour practical slots, supported by handouts and directed reading.
  • This method is preferred as it provides "hands on" learning and experience of acquiring geoinformatics skills.
  • Formative assessment is provided weekly during the practical sessions together with a formative class test.
  • Summative assessment is made up of in-class assessments through which students can demonstrate practical skills

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Practicals 20 weekly 3 hours 60
Preparation and reading 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Assessment 1 Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Assessment 1 100%
Component: Summative Assessment 2 Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Assessment 2 100%
Component: Summative Assessment 3 Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Assessment 3 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback will be provided in all practical sessions. Formative feedback will be given on the class test.

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