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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: Earth Sciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • GEOL2231 Igneous and Metamorphic Geochemistry and Petrology AND GEOL2011 Structural Geology and Tectonics


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To understand the nature, causes, controls and interactions of grain-scale deformation processes within the Earth’s lithsophere and how these are assessed and measured by geoscientists.


  • Fracturing and fracture process zones.
  • Crystal plasticity, diffusive mass transfer.
  • Practical interpretation of microstructures in rocks.
  • Deformation mechanism and regime maps.
  • Heterogeneity.
  • Fault zone weakening.
  • Principles of rock, fault and earthquake mechanics.
  • Deformation experiments and estimating the rocks physical and mechanical parameters.
  • Mechanics and deformation mechanisms of active fault zones: creeping vs. seismic faults.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To systematically describe microstructures and relate these to deformation mechanisms in naturally deformed rocks.
  • To understand how grain-scale processes in the crustal and manle lead to shear localization and weakening behaviours.
  • To understand the relationships between grain-scale deformation mechanisms and seismogenesis in upper crustal fault zones.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills necessary to plan, conduct and report on laboratory projects.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in order to apply geological principles and methodologies to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to observe, record accurately and account for geological features in the laboratory.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological data.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in citation and appropriate use of the literature.
Key Skills:
  • Critical analysis, research capability: Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Practical competency: Prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages.
  • Independent learning, numeracy, IT skills, information skills, literacy.
  • Initiative and drive, innovation and creativity, problem solving.

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 one hour-lectures and two-hour practicals, supported by handouts, directed reading and web-based materials held on DUO.
  • The practicals form an important component of the module allowing hands-on learning and experience of tackling and solving graphical-and-thin-section-based problems that help re-enforce key concepts introduced during lectures.
  • Formative assessment is provided in practical tests with feedback.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills are provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Practicals 20 2 hours 40
Preparation and Reading 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Two-hour unseen written examination 100%
Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 100%

Formative Assessment:

Practical tests with feedback and feedback during project preparation.

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.