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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2020-2021

Programmes in Science

This page lists any key changes made to advertised undergraduate programmes due to start in 2020-21 in Departments in the Faculty of Science, in light of the global pandemic. Click on the departmental headers for further information about programmes and modules offered in each department.

Unless otherwise indicated, changes under each header apply to all joint and single honours programmes in the department. If there is limited or no information under a header, this indicates that no major changes to advertised content – beyond the move to blended delivery – are planned.

If you are studying a programme or modules in more than one department, please see each departmental entry for relevant information

Please Note: these summaries show changes affecting new entrants to undergraduate programmes starting Level 1 in 2020-21. Any changes to programmes which affect continuing students will be communicated directly by academic departments. New entrants to the Foundation Programme will similarly be contacted directly by Foundation Programme staff.

+Department of Biosciences

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Biosciences.

Fieldwork/Placement opportunities

For 2020-21, we have modified modules incorporating residential or placement activities in light of Covid-19.

At Level 2, our Ecology module which contained a 3-day residential event in UK has been amended to use model data and include some citizen science work.

Our residential field course modules BIOL3161 and BIOL4101, which included a 2 week stay in Africa/Scotland, have been modified to consist of an online field course with some citizen science elements that can be completed remotely.

Due to the lack of availability of school placement opportunities in 2020-21, the Level 3 Module Biology into Schools has been replaced by a comparable Public Engagement in Biosciences module. The module ethos is very similar, and provides students with opportunities to engage with local organisations and explore public understanding of science.

We hope that these residential and placement activities will be able to resume in future years, but we have clear alternative mechanisms for delivery if this is not the case.

Course Delivery (Biosciences modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

We will deliver practical classes on a blended basis. Some practical elements/exercises will be delivered online, as live or recorded activities. These will be supplemented by core practical classes which will take place in the laboratory, with social distancing measures in place. In practice, this may mean some variation from the contact hours specified within individual module outlines. However, our approach ensures that students will gain the practical skills required for study at level 2 across all core modules. Discussion and workshop events will take place via on-line meetings, and tutorials will include face to face meetings where possible, or will otherwise take place online. Lectures will be recorded and delivered remotely.

+Department of Chemistry

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Chemistry.

Fieldwork/Placement opportunities

The MChem Chemistry (International route) and (Industrial route) degrees include placement years at overseas universities or in industry in Level 4. In 2020-21, travel restrictions and company withdrawals have affected the range and duration of some placement opportunities. The range of placements that will be available in subsequent years will be affected by any restrictions imposed at that time.

Course Delivery (Chemistry modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

We will deliver practical classes on a blended basis. Some practical elements/exercises will be delivered online, as live or recorded activities. These will be supplemented by core practical classes which will take place in the laboratory, with social distancing measures in place. In practice, this may mean some variation from the contact hours specified within individual module outlines. However, our approach ensures that students will gain the practical skills required for study at Level 2 across all core modules.

+Department of Computer Science

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Computer Science.

Course Delivery (Computer Science modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

+Department of Earth Sciences

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Earth Sciences.

Fieldwork/Placement opportunities

In 2020-21, all fieldtrips have either been postponed to the Easter holidays 2021 or have been replaced with virtual alternatives. We hope to be able to run fieldtrips during and after the Easter holidays – including the Level 1 trip to the Lake District as part of the Field Studies module (GEOL1051) – but it is possible that future travel restrictions may prevent this from happening. If necessary, we will consider virtual alternatives for any of our planned fieldtrips. Our accrediting body, the Geological Society, has waived requirements for fieldwork for the near future, so any move to virtual fieldtrips will not affect accreditation for any of our programmes.

Course Delivery (Earth Sciences modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

All content of practicals will be recorded. Many practicals will be delivered synchronously (live); some are planned to retain a face-to-face component. The courses will be delivered mainly through a mixture of asynchronous (recorded) lectures, synchronous or face-to-face practical classes, and synchronous or face-to-face tutorials

+Department of Engineering

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Engineering.

Fieldwork/Placement opportunities

First year students would usually complete the Professional Engineering Applications Course (PEAC) towards the end of the academic year. The extent to which the practical elements of this course can be undertaken in the 2020-21 academic year will depend on restrictions in place at the time. However, an online course covering the theoretical elements is in place, and will be used if necessary. Practical experience is core to an engineer’s education so, if practical elements of PEAC cannot run in 2020-21, students will be provided with similar experience at another time during their studies.

The Engineering into Schools module (available as an option in the MEng final year) will not run during 2020-21 due to restrictions on placing students into schools. However, an alternative Public Engagement in Engineering module will run and offers similar learning outcomes alongside an increase in flexibility in the choice of topics.

Course Delivery (Engineering modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

Student learning continues to be underpinned by a range of laboratory experiments conducted in person and remotely, with additional content provided through videos and guidance sheets. First year students usually complete a group design and build exercise. Design activities will run, and students can still expect to complete a practical element. However, the practical elements will be adapted according to restrictions in place at the time.

To ensure that problem solving supports student learning, activities previously conducted in problem classes will become core to the blended lecture and video learning structure, with students seeing problems alongside theory. Students will be able to sign up for office hour discussions with staff.

+Department of Mathematical Sciences

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Fieldwork/Placement opportunities

Due to the lack of availability of school placement opportunities in 2020-21, the Level 3 Module Mathematics Teaching has been replaced by a comparable Public Engagement in Mathematical Sciences module. The module ethos is very similar, and provides students with opportunities to engage with local organisations and explore public understanding of science. We hope that Mathematics Teaching will be able to resume in future years.

Course Delivery (Mathematical Sciences modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

Modules which were previously assessed entirely by examination now include a small (10%) continuous assessment component.

+Natural Sciences

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in Natural Sciences.

Degree Structure

There are no changes to the structure of the Natural Sciences degrees.

Course Delivery

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

Some individual departments have made changes to their modules and delivery methods, and you can see further information on those changes under the various departmental headings on this Science webpage, and on the comparable Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences & Health webpages.

You will also be able to see full descriptions of all of the modules running in 2020-21 from the main Faculty Handbook webpages.

+Department of Physics

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Physics.

Course Delivery (Physics modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

For example, all lectures will be pre-recorded, made available online and supported by online office hours. We expect that practical work will be a structured combination of socially-distanced face-to-face laboratory sessions and supported online activities.

+Department of Psychology

See our full programme regulations for undergraduate programmes offered in the Department of Psychology.

Degree Structure

BSc Psychology and BSc Behavioural Sciences students entering Level 1 in 2020-21 will be able to undertake an additional new optional module Careers in Psychology (PSYC1101). At Level 2 we have combined all 10-credit core modules into 20-credit core modules, and combined the 20-credit core Statistics and Research Methods modules into an integrated 40-credit Advanced Research Methods and Statistics (PSYC2232) module to provide greater cohesion.

Course Delivery (Psychology modules)

In line with Durham’s approach to blended delivery in response to the global pandemic, teaching and learning activities will include socially distanced face to face sessions alongside online delivery during 2020-21.

We intend for online lectures to be typically synchronous (live) to facilitate interaction but recorded to allow students to view them at other times. Where possible tutorials will be presented as face-to-face small group teaching but will move online when dictated by circumstance. Laboratory sessions will be a mix of online and face-to-face sessions together with asynchronous (recorded) online delivery. These online sessions will integrate research methods and analysis.

Learning Resources & Support

We are aiming to get our virtual reality suites, developmental testing facilities, and EEG labs running as soon as safely possible, and still encourage students to participate in experiments in these labs. However, due to social distancing it is expected that these labs will be less accessible and sometimes inaccessible for testings.

This page was last updated on 13th August 2020.