Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module GEOL1141: Sustainability

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL1141: Sustainability

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of sustainability.
  • To introduce global issues and concepts around sustainability, with an emphasis on aspects most relevant to Earth Sciences such as water, climate, energy and mineral resources, food resources, and natural hazards.
  • To introduce the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • To focus on nine of the seventeen SDGs.
  • To use research-led teaching from the beginning of the first year.


  • Explanation and discussion of sustainability issues, using geoscience-facing SDGs as a framework for structuring and delivering material.
  • Knowledge and understanding of fundamental aspects and principles of environmental and Earth sciences relevant to sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Overview of global natural resources and their rates of use and replenishment/recycling.
  • Strategies and case studies for sustainability.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Familiarity with sustainability literature, data sources and their formats.
  • Understanding of research methodologies in Earth Sciences, and an appreciation of the specific research foci in Durham Earth Sciences.
Key Skills:
  • Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data sets, including time series analysis, image interpretation.
  • Inter-relation of different branches of science.
  • Writing skills.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Skills to distinguish the quality of data sources.

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

  • Lectures and practical sessions. Practical classes to expand on concepts introduced in lectures. Some sessions may use intersperse short mini-lectures with staged practical activities.
  • Posters will be displayed at a module mini-conference at the end of Term 2. Depending on student numbers, posters might be paired or group efforts.
  • The lectures and practical sessions are supported by handouts, directed reading and web-based material.
  • The practicals provide opportunities to apply principles, concepts and theory to case studies and real-life examples.
  • Guidance is provided on scientific presentation and data handling techniques.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Practicals 20 Weekly 2 Hour 40
Reading and study of class hand-outs, preparation for and execution of formative and summative assessments, background reading both directed and independent, and preparation for summative poster. 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
In class test 20%
Poster 80%

Formative Assessment:

Examples of best practise to be given throughout both terms, including solutions to specific problems and advice on scientific communication for different intended audiences.

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