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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 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 GEOG module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this course is to provide an overview of peat geomorphology and landscape change; and discuss current management issues affecting peatlands.


  • Introduction – What is peat? Global significance of peatlands
  • Hydrology of peatlands
  • Erosion processes - (water, wind and frost)
  • Slope processes and peat landslides
  • Sediment budgets and landscape change
  • Erosion dynamics and carbon cycling
  • Peatland drainage and burning
  • Peatland restoration and management

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students are expected to be able to:
  • Understand the key characteristics of peat, peatlands and their geomorphology
  • Analyse the linkages between peatland geomorphic forms and processes
  • Evaluate the importance of peatland geomorphology in controlling carbon cycling
  • Critically apply process understanding to current issues affecting upland peatlands and management strategies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students are expected to be able to:
  • Evaluate the range of peatland research methodologies
  • Critically assess scientific approaches to peatland geomorphology
  • Understand how the physical characteristics and material properties of peat influence peatland process
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students are expected to be able to:
  • Order ‘knowledge’ and be able to relate and synthesise key concepts
  • Read critically and make links between lecture-based knowledge and published material (advanced bibliographic skills).
  • Relate lecture-based concepts to real environments and management examples

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

  • This is a lecture-based module with structured discussion sessions and a field trip focussed on the North Pennines (delivered as a one-day field excursion) to look at contemporary peat erosion and management. This is supplemented by a series of online demonstrations of the physical properties of peat which are incorporated into the lecture programme, short spreadsheet exercises, short videos and an end-of-module small group discussion tutorial.
  • Lectures will enable students to gain subject-specific knowledge and understand approaches to studying peatland science.
  • Desktop (video) demonstrations allow students to appreciate the ‘special’ properties of peat.
  • Spreadsheet exercises allow students to develop numeric skills around peat problems
  • The field excursion provides experience of methods of peatland restoration and management .
  • Tutorials provide a discussion forum (review) at the end of the module where students can raise key topics and issues and prepare essay-plan answers. This will prepare students for the summative assessment (exam).
  • Formative assessment is provided through short weekly tests/quizzes throughout the module and the group review tutorial and seminar at the end of the module. These sessions review subject-specific knowledge and provide guidance on structuring exam question to best synthesise key concepts and published material. The summative assessment (written exam) will test subject specific knowledge and understanding; the ability of students to critically analyse scientific approaches in to peatland geomorphology, evaluate key concepts and make links between lecture-based knowledge, published material and field / management examples.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures (S) 2 Term 1 0.5 hours 1
Lectures (A) 8 c. weekly 1 hour 8
Fieldwork (S) 1 1 day 8 hours 8
Tutorials (S) 1 Once 1 hour 1
Tutorial (S) 1 Once 1 hour 1
Seminar (S) 1 Once 0.5 hours 0.5
Drop-in sessions (S) 10 Weekly 0.5 hours 5
Test (formative) (A) 1 Once 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 73.5
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: 'Open Book' Written Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
'Open Book' Written Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

This is provided through question and answer session in module; the interactive classroom demonstrations and/or videos; weekly tests/quizzes; discussion on the one-day field excursion; and in the small group review tutorial / seminar at the end of the module. These sessions provide an overview of the module material and prepare students for the written examination by evaluating exam question essay plans.

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.

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