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


  • GEOL1051 Field Studies.


  • GEOL2081 Geophysical Methods for Geoscientists

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce fundamental concepts of Earth observation and remote data acquisition techniques.
  • To introduce concepts of digital data manipulation, processing and visualisation.
  • To select and apply data manipulation and visualisation methods to example Earth structures and processes, set in a research context.
  • To provide a skills-based training in geophysical data and model presentation for use in contemporary and subsequent modules.
  • To provide data processing, analysis and visualisation training to underpin subsequent dissertation research at level 3 and level 4.


  • This module will be IT-based and enable students to develop skills and software usage experience suitable to the demands of modern geophysical applications.
  • It aims to introduce students to the concepts of sampling and focus on scales of observation from satellite-based through to ground-based observation level.
  • An understanding of the selection of appropriate method of observation will be developed together with the skills of processing, manipulation, display and interpretation of resulting geophysical datasets.
  • An understanding of the processes and concepts behind combined dataset display, interpretation and model creation.
  • Practical applications and examples will include: satellite remote sensing for surface geology, seismic data for resource exploration, earth process geophysical imaging, environmental applications, earthquakes, large-scale surface topography, map projections and 3-D visualization, data reformatting and the use of online data repositories.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will be able to explain visualization techniques to all scale of observation.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in Earth's natural resources and the techniques used to locate and exploit them.
  • Will be able to process and manipulate geophysical data into a format to convey an interpretation to others.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Select and apply appropriate data manipulation and visualization methods for any geophysical Earth Science application.
  • Be able to operate in both a PC- and UNIX-based environment effectively.
  • Be able to confidently use a variety of geophysical software packages.
  • Plot, map, analyze and critically interpret geophysical data and communicate results in an organized and concise fashion.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills necessary to plan, conduct and report on a variety of projects.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in order to innovatively and creatively apply geological principles and IT-based methodologies to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyze, evaluate/interpret geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical forms.
  • Prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages.
  • Self-learn and time manage to meet targets, goals and deadlines.

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

  • Three hour, weekly slot containing practical IT-based activities.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Practicals 20 Weekly 3 hours 60
Preparation and feedback assimilation 140

Summative Assessment

Component: Practical Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical Assignment 1 50%
Practical Assignment 2 50%

Formative Assessment:

Embedded within practical work and coupled with proactive feedback and self-learning mechanisms.

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