Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • GEOL1101 Understanding Earth Sciences and GEOL1051 Field Studies.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To understand the description and analysis of deformation structures, processes and systems in the Earth, including the relationship between tectonics and surface processes.


  • Measurement and analysis of deformation structures in the field
  • Stress and faulting - hydraulic fracture and fluid flow in faults/fracture systems.
  • Strain - ellipsoids and volume change.
  • Material lines - coaxial vs non-coaxial strain.
  • Stereonets.
  • Fault rocks and shear sense indicators.
  • Crustal deformation.
  • Tectonics: rhelogy and thermal structure of the lithosphere.
  • Collision zones and thrust belts.
  • Rift systems and extensional fault systems.
  • Strike-slip faults and terrane tectonics.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To systematically describe and critically assess the main characteristics of natural deformation systems.
  • To relate natural structures to causative tectonic processes.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in order to apply structural geological principles and methodologies to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret structural geological data.
Key Skills:
  • To develop spatial awareness skills to facilitate three- and four-dimensional thinking and analysis.
  • Prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and software packages.
  • To appreciate how knowledge and techniques gained during the course can have industrial application – e.g. during hydrocarbon or mineral exploration and hence raise students’ awareness of relevant employment opportunities within these sectors.
  • Critical analysis of real datasets.
  • Developing research capability.
  • Engaging in scholarly activities and developing practical competency.
  • Independent learning.
  • Developing IT and information skills.
  • Effectively communicating complex ideas.
  • Creativity and problem solving.
  • Time management.

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

  • The module is delivered through a mix of one-hour lectures and two-hour practicals, supported by handouts and web-based background reading and other materials held on DUO.
  • Assessments, lectures and practicals include research-led, research-based and research-oriented material. Research-led material includes relevant examples from around the world and will introduce students to relevant scientific articles in international, peer review journals.
  • The practicals form an important component of the module allowing hands-on learning and experience of tackling and solving structural problems that help re-enforce key concepts introduced during lectures.
  • Summative assessment is 100% based on a 2-hour written examination.
  • Formative assessment is provided in practical classes including self-assessed tests and revision sessions. Feedback is also provided via modal answers posted on DUO.
  • Guidance on preparation and key skills are provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Practicals 20 Weekly 2 Hours 40
Preparation and Reading 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour unseen written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

Practical assessments.

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