Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module GEOL3327: Earthquake Sources and Waves

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL3327: Earthquake Sources and Waves

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOL1081 Further Mathematics for Geoscientists.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of rocks and faults that lead to failure and earthquake rupture.
  • To learn seismological methods used to monitor and characterise earthquakes in current hazard mitigation research.
  • To understand seismic source radiation and propagation of waves and how they reveal the Earth structure on different scales.


  • Earthquake source dynamics.
  • Rock mechanics, brittle deformation and earthquake fault mechanics.
  • Wave propagation and Earth structure.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of the processes that lead to earthquake rupture, namely: Rock brittle failure, Fault slip and fricition.
  • To use seismological data and tools t for monitoring earthquakes and inform hazard mitigation.
  • To understand seismic source radiation and wave propagation.
  • To reveal the Earth structure on different scales using seismic waves.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Manipulate earthquake data to extract key parameters.
  • Determine the state of deformation and stress in rocks and apply rupture criteria.
  • Solve numerical problems using both computer-based and paper-based techniques.
  • Make simplifying assumptions to enable analysis of a complex geological problem or situation.
  • Acquire the skills to synthesise data from a variety of sources.
  • Acquire the skills to analyse, evaluate and interpret geophysical and geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Develop problem-solving skills, initiative and persistence in tackling unfamiliar and challenging questions through supervised practical work and summative assessments.
  • Develop skills to discuss, evaluate, and review work with colleagues through discussion.
  • Evaluate and reflect on assumptions and uncertainties in analysis through supervised practical work and summative assessments.

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 lecture and practical slots, supported by online videos and notes, directed reading and web-based material.
  • The practicals provide opportunities to apply principles, concepts and theory to case studies and practical examples.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills is provided.
  • Assessment will consist of a 12 minute presentation by the student on a selected seismology topic.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 Hour 10
Practicals 10 Weekly 2 Hours 20
Reading and study of class hand-outs, preparation for and execution of formative and summative assessments, background reading both directed and independent. 70
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation 12 minutes 40%
In-class Test 60%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback sessions during and following the practical classes

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