Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module GEOL3377: Monitoring the Oceans: Geohazards and Climate Change

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL3377: Monitoring the Oceans: Geohazards and Climate Change

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


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • The overall aim is to provide better understanding of a series of emerging themes in ocean science, related to climate change, geohazards, renewable energy or data telecommunications.
  • It will also outline how new technologies are now being used to monitor the oceans in order to better understand geohazards, or monitor key processes (‘tipping points’) for climate change.
  • A mini-research project aims to provide cutting-edge skills for analysing newly-collected field monitoring data sets from the world’s oceans, whose full significance is not yet understood.


  • The seabed comprises more than 70 percent of the Earth, but we have better mapping data from other planets. Yet oceans will play a key role in future climate change, and we need to understand geohazards to coastal and offshore structures, including for telecommunications and renewable energy.
  • Part I: The first part is a mini research project, which will help to develop GIS and other analytical skills for field data analysis, which would be useful for a wide range of future careers. This mini-project will be based around analysis of a multi-facetted cutting-edge field data set collected recently from the seafloor, and thus link to active research within the department. A guide to different aspects of this mini-project will be provided through the practical classes, including analysis of seabed GIS data sets.
  • Part II: The second part of the module comprises 10 lectures on emerging topics in ocean science, including around climate change, seabed geohazards, renewable energy and data tele-communications. The topics will be chosen to better understand how the oceans could drive future climate change, how we can monitor tipping points. Some topics provide background for a potentially wide range of future careers (e.g. offshore wind, geohazards or telecommunications). There will be directed reading associated with each of the emerging topics and lectures, which will be a key part of the overall content.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To better understand key emerging themes in ocean science, which are linked to climate change, assessing offshore geohazards, renewable energy or data tele-communications.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To understand how seabed processes may affect future climate change & tipping points.
  • To understand a range of offshore geophysical hazards and their potential impacts.
  • To develop skills in GIS, including software that may be widely used in future careers.
  • To develop skills in wider analysis of seabed monitoring and mapping geophysical data.
Key Skills:
  • Critical Analysis
  • Research capability
  • Scholarship
  • Practical competency
  • Independent learning
  • Numeracy
  • GIS skills
  • Literacy
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

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

  • Each 3-hour session will combine a 1-hour lecture on emerging themes in ocean science, with a 2 hour practical session analysing cutting edge-field monitoring data from the seabed.
  • The practical sessions (Part I) will form a mini-research-project, which will be assessed via an essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Teaching and Learning Sessions 10 Weekly 3 hours 30
Reasing 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: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (linked to Research Project Report) 8 pages 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be provided in the series of practical classes linked with the mini research project.

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