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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Geography


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an overview of why and how river catchments are managed at a variety of temporal and spatial scales, and to understand the water and sediment processes that river management needs to consider. To introduce the basic knowledge needed for careers in river and catchment management


  • Catchment management requires understanding of the flow and sediment processes that operate both in the catchment and in the river channel. Throughout the module, processes will be introduced from a management perspective, and supported with management case studies. Indicative processes include:
  • Catchment hydrological and sediment processes: water flow pathways, the key processes of infiltration, surface runoff, soil and groundwater flows and the spatial drivers of water flow. Management applications could include the generation and management of the sources of flood hazards, how the terrestrial water balance can lead to droughts and water resources issues and diffuse pollution of sediment and nutrients which impact aquatic ecology
  • River channels, flow and sediment transport: basic principles of flow, channel flow at multiple scales
  • Controls on channel morphology, sediment transport processes, interactions between sediment transport, morphology and flow. Management applications could include: channel restoration, the impact of mining on erosion and sedimentation, managing flood hazards under climate change

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students are expected to:
  • Understand why and how river catchments are managed
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the main processes governing water flow and sediment transfer in catchments and river channels
  • Understand the dynamics of catchments and river systems over different space and timescales, and how these can be affected by human interventions, including climate change
  • Critically analyse literature on fluvial and catchment systems
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Apply knowledge of catchment and fluvial systems to evaluate examples of management / engineering
Key Skills:
  • Assess and interpret material presented in lectures and practical sessions
  • Extract patterns from secondary data and observations
  • Demonstrate appropriate competence in numerical analysis, basic statistics and graphical presentation techniques
  • Perform simple calculations in both lectures and practical sessions
  • Present logical written arguments
  • Abstract information from multiple sources
  • Written presentation of key theories and ideas in a structured and organised format

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

  • Teaching: material is introduced in the lecture sessions and supported by in-lecture activities
  • Concepts introduced in lectures are explored in greater depth in the practical sessions
  • Application of concepts are demonstrated by in-lecture activities and practical sessions
  • Assessment: Exam - tests factual knowledge and understanding of concepts
  • Coursework practical reports examine deeper understanding of concepts and their practical application, and capacity for independent research

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Varies 2 hours 32
Lectures 1 Varies 1 hour 1
Practicals 4 Varies 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 159
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%
Component: Practical Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical Report max 4 x sides A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two practical exercises: solutions and model answers posted on Learn Ultra and general feedback summarised in lecture.

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

If you have a query about a specific module or degree programme, please contact the appropriate department.

If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our FAQ webpage. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the FAQ, or a query about the on-line Faculty Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.