Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 4 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOL1081 Further Mathematics for Geoscientists.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • GEOL3151 Earth Structure and Dynamics


  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of the structure and dynamics of the interior of the Earth.
  • To understand how these are investigated and modelled numerically.
  • To understand current research approaches.


  • Heat flow.
  • Composition of the Earth
  • Fluid flow
  • Mantle geodynamics (mantle convection, mantle plumes, subduction)
  • Strength and deformation of rocks
  • Intraplate volcanism
  • Core dynamics and geomagnetism
  • Earth’s evolution through Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic and Phanerzoic

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To understand the processes by which heat is transferred within the solid Earth.
  • To understand the physics behind convection in the Earth.
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of the structure and composition of the Earth across different geological timescales.
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of Earth materials.
  • To understand the physics and nature of mantle plumes, subduction processes, and intraplate volcanism.
  • To understand the origin of the Earth’s magnetic field and the related dynamics of the Earth’s core.
  • The evolution of tectonics throughout the long-term history of the Earth
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Providing key insight and understanding of the physical processes involved in Earth dynamics on a range of skills.
  • Solve numerical problems using both computer-based and paper-based techniques.
  • Critically evaluate the assumptions and uncertainties inherent in a model or analysis.
  • 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 discussion and presentation skills.
  • Develop skills to critically evaluate, and review work with colleagues through discussion.
  • Evaluate and reflect on assumptions and uncertainties in analysis through supervised practical work and summative assessments.
  • Acquire skills necessary for self-managed lifelong learning including independent research, critical analysis, and 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

  • The module is delivered through a mix of lecture and practical sessions, supported by lecture slides, lecture notes, additional supportive reading and web-based material.
  • The practicals provide opportunities to apply principles, concepts and theory to case studies and practical examples.
  • Two timetabled meetings during term designed specifically to promote advanced critical reasoning, scientific research, and scientific writing skills, and writing skills.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills is provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 Hour 10
Practicals 10 Weekly 2 Hours 20
Advanced skills practical sessions 2 Twice per term 4
Reading and study of class lecture notes, preparation for and execution of formative and summative assessments, and background reading both directed and independent. 66
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2000 words 40%
Presentation 60%

Formative Assessment:

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