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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 Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 GEOG module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is to provide students with knowledge of management within a catchment through the application of environmental simulation models. The module will focus on a case study catchment and study the role of environmental drivers, pathways and feedbacks, considering a range of catchment derived ecosystem services, such as water resources, but with a particular emphasis upon flood hazard regulation. The impact of floods on an urban area will be considered with a hydraulic inundation model. The module is structured so that the water pathways are modelled from the initial precipitation on the catchment through the fluvial system and on to the flood plain during storm events. The module will consider how integrated catchment modelling can be used to inform catchment management for flood hazard reduction.


  • The module will be divided into three blocks and include:
  • Introduction. Ecosystem Services from catchment systems and management tool available. Environmental simulation models as a predictive tool for understanding catchment hydrological processes.
  • Catchment Modelling. Simulating the transformation of precipitation to streamflow in lumped hydrological models.
  • Flood Modelling. Simulating the inundation of floodplains and the estimation of economic damages from flood events.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • 1. Understanding of the primary drivers of flood risk and the interactions between elements of the flood risk system.
  • 2. Understanding of the basics of the hydrological and hydraulic sciences required as inputs to flood risk analysis and the associated tools used in those sciences.
  • 3. Explain the basic theory and method behind environmental simulation modelling.
  • 4. Assess validity and uncertainty of model predictions.
  • 5. How integrated catchment modelling can be used to inform catchment management planning for flood hazard reduction
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 1. Ability to model both hydrological and hydraulic problems, including awareness of data issues, calibration and validation.
  • 2. Critically assess scientific approaches in catchment management procedure.
Key Skills:
  • Perform simple model simulations and analysis of the quantitative results.
  • Evaluation of model uncertainty.
  • Present logical written arguments.
  • Presentation skills

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

  • This will be a lecture-based course with linked computer-based practical sessions and a presentation-based seminar.
  • Lectures will enable students to gain subject-specific knowledge and understand approaches to studying catchment science.
  • The computer practical sessions will enable hands on experience of applying environmental simulation models
  • Presentations will allow students to integrate different parts of the module within a management context and allow for formative feedback.
  • The summative assessment (report write-up) will test subject specific knowledge and skills

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 c. weekly 1 hour 6
Seminars 1 Once 3 hours 3
Computer-based practicals 5 c. weekly 2 hours 10
Drop-in sessions 1 Once 2 hours 2
Reading and preparation 79
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Modelling Report Max 5 pages A4 (excluding tables, graphs and references) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will be provided through online forum, verbal discussions during the computer-based practical sessions and the drop in sessions and through a group presentation of work. The presentations will enable the students to demonstrate their understanding of the module content, gain experience in the explanation of modelling results. Each student group will receive verbal formative feedback on their presentation.

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.