Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Successful completion of the compulsory modules defined in the specifications of the programmes offered by the Department of Earth Sciences. For other students whose GEOL3022 (dissertation) research is to be field-based, one of GEOL2191 Fieldwork (Geological), GEOL2201 Fieldwork (Environmental) or GEOL 2241 Fieldwork (Geophysical) as appropriate, plus at least two (2) other Level 2 modules from those offered by Earth Sciences. For other students whose GEOL3022 (dissertation) research is not to be field based, completion of at least three (3) Level 2 modules offered by Earth Sciences where those modules meet those specified for the particular project to be undertaken. • Completion of the Departmental project sign-up and approval process by the designated deadline


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To produce a substantive independent research dissertation based on either a geological mapping exercise [Geology routes] or a computing, field or laboratory project [Climate Science, Environment Geosciences or Geophysics routes]. For other students [Geoscience, Natural Sciences]: dissertation type will be dependent on specific pre-requisites completed.


  • Independent research based upon field, laboratory or computer datasets chosen to suit a student's degree programme and interests.
  • Guidance is given in project selection and preparation, research focus and direction, dissertation preparation and problem solving.
  • Training in health and safety issues, risk assessment and first aid is also provided.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in Earth system processes.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in geological principles, terms, definitions and classifications.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will be able to:
  • (a) conduct independent research.
  • (b) development testable hypotheses.
  • (c) collect and present laboratory, computer or field data.
  • (d) make valid interpretations and inferences from data.
  • (e) develop a justified synthesis and draw conclusions from results.
  • (f) accurately precis published literature.
  • (g) appropriately cite literature and create a research-based report.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills necessary to plan, conduct and report on a research topic.
  • Will have acquired the capability to plan and execute a guided independent piece of research and communicate the results of this research effectively in scholarly written form.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to undertake investigations in a safe and responsible manner with regard to risk assessment, right of access, health and safety regulations and sensitivity to the environment and stakeholders.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to observe, record accurately and account for geological features in the laboratory, on computer and in the field.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to critically synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological data.
  • Will have acquired intellectual skills involved in the preparation and interpretation of maps from field observations and other sources of information.
Key Skills:
  • Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Innovative and creative approaches to problem solving.
  • Use initiative and identify individual goals and responsibilities.
  • 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 information technology packages.
  • Solve numerical problems using computer or non-computer techniques.
  • Use the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information.
  • Acquire skills necessary for self-managed lifelong learning (including independent working, time management).
  • Identify and work towards targets for personal and academic development.

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

  • The module is delivered through a limited number of one hour lectures, directed at project planning, risk assessment, dissertation preparation, first aid training and independent project work.
  • These are supported by handouts, DUO materials and problem solving supervisions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 1 In first term 2 hours 2
Tutorials 6 Scheduled as appropriate to project type 1 hour 6
Other (independent study) 392
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation report 100%

Formative Assessment:


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