Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 38 Location Durham


  • GEOL2231 Igneous and Metamorphic Processes


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop a deep and synoptic understanding of the volcanic system from source to impact, with an appreciation of the essential links between magmagenesis, geochemistry, petrography, physical volcanology, field volcanology, and hazard and risk.
  • To develop the capacity to interrogate field and laboratory data, and to integrate this with understanding gained through classroom learning and from the literature.


  • Magmagenesis and crustal magmatic storage processes.
  • Geochemistry of magmatic volatiles.
  • Physical properties of magma and microphysical controls on magma behaviour.
  • Magma flow and conduit processes.
  • The physics of explosive and effusive eruptions.
  • Pyroclastic dispersal and deposits.
  • Lava flows and domes.
  • Structure of volcanoes and the construction of a volcanic edifice.
  • Volcanic hazards, risks and their assessment.
  • Impacts of volcanic eruptions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understand and interpret the origin and evolution of magma as it passes through the volcanic system, and how its physical and chemical properties influence eruption.
  • Understand how eruptions construct volcanic edifices, and how volcanic emissions impact on human populations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Acquire and develop the intellectual and practical skills to observe, record accurately and account for geological features in the laboratory and in the field.
  • Acquire and develop the intellectual and practical skills to synthesize information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Acquire the intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate and interpret geological data.
Key Skills:
  • To understand and use formal scientific reasoning.
  • Synthesize and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Develop skills necessary for self-managed learning (including independent working, time management).
  • Develop understanding through observation, analysis and interpretation in the field.

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

  • Teaching is delivered via a mixture of lectures and extended guided practical classes, supported by handouts, directed reading, feedback and a one-week residential field trip.
  • The principles of the subject will be re-enforced with laboratory, field exercises and academic literature.
  • Summative assessment is 100% continual and comprises assessed practical work, field work and report writing, through which students can demonstrate their problem solving skills, practical skills and theoretical comprehension.
  • Formative assessment is provided via feedback to practical assignments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 Weekly 1 hour 18
Practicals 15 Weekly 2 hours 30
Fieldwork 1 1 week 70
Preparation and Reading 82
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Filed notebook 20%
Hazard report 80%
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Synoptic practical excercise 100%

Formative Assessment:

Laboratory-based practical exercises and reports.

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