Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to


  • GEOL3022 Dissertation module


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop advanced research skills in Earth Sciences via the completion of a significant piece of individual research.


  • The student will undertake a field, laboratory or data based research project in the Earth Sciences normally reflecting the research interests of staff within the department.
  • Projects are conceived by students in conjunction with staff, risk assessed and supervised by members of staff.
  • Students are expected to attend departmental research seminars to broaden their knowledge of Earth Sciences related topics and improve their presentation skills.
  • Training in health and safety issues, risk assessment is also provided.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Will have acquired subject knowledge and understanding in a focussed area of Earth system science.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired the capability to plan and execute an independent piece of research and communicate the results of this research effectively in scholarly written and verbal forms.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills necessary to plan, conduct and report on a research project.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to collect accurate data, or to source appropriate data.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to critically analyse, evaluate/interpret data.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in citation and appropriate use of the literature.
Key Skills:
  • Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Innovative and creative approaches to problem solving.
  • 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.
  • Use initiative and identify individual and collective goals and responsibilities.
  • Develop 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

  • Students will receive a one hour introductory lecture, and will participate in a series of 2-3 hour workshops on presentation skills, writing skills, and careers.
  • Students will participate in at least 6 one hour supervisor meetings with the research supervisor(s) that cover the research topic, time-management, planning, and research skills.
  • The research project is summatively assessed via the production of a written report and a seminar, usually in the presence of one of the external examiners.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 1 1 Hour 1
Tutorials/Supervisory Meetings 6 3 per term 1 Hour 6
Workshop 4 3 Hours 12
Other (independent study) 231
Preparation and Reading 350
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Report Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research report 100%
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar presentation 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two presentations, one presentation abstract.

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