Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module GEOL3447: Earth System and Climate II

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL3447: Earth System and Climate II

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enhance understanding of the interconnectivity between different components of the Earth System and their relevance to climate, with a focus on long-term climate change and its causes.


  • Climate change on geological timescales.
  • Tectonic drivers for climate change.
  • Magmatism and climate.
  • The rock record and ancient glaciations.
  • Proxy records for ancient climates.
  • Future climate scenarios on different timescales.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To describe with reference to boundary and threshold conditions the processes governing climate.
  • To describe how ocean, cryosphere and carbon dynamics influence global climate.
  • To critically evaluate the geological proxies for climate change.
  • To critically evaluate current hypotheses for climate change.
  • To critically evaluate the value of solid Earth and general circulation models in climate simulation, hypothesis generation and testing.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in geological principles, terms, definitions and classifications.
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in the Earth systems science.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Receive, respond to and critically evaluate a variety of information and data sources.
  • Communicate effectively in written and graphical form.
  • Scientific writing.
  • Prepare, process and interpret data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques.
  • Use the internet critically in communication and an information source.
  • Identify individual and collective goals.
  • Recognise and respect the views of other team members.

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

  • The module is delivered through a series of flexible 2-hour class meetings which will include lecture, discussion and practical exercises, supported by handouts, directed reading and web and computer-based assignments.
  • The discussions and exercises form an important component of the module encouraging learning and experience of tackling and solving problems individually in class, on-line and in groups.
  • Guidance on preparation, and science writing skills is provided.
  • Assessment is via a written report, which is based on analysis and interpretation of datasets worked on throughout the term.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
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. 80
Total 100

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Formative exercises will be conducted and feedback delivered as part of in-person sessions.

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