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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 20 Location Durham


  • At least two Level 2 modules in Earth Sciences; DBS check; successful completion of interview (by module co-ordinator; experienced, qualified science teacher; academic in the Department of Earth Sciences; member of the Science Outreach and Engagement Team).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • BIOL3431 Biology Into Schools, CHEM3081 Chemistry Into Schools, COMP3421 Computer Science into Schools, ENGI4321 L4 Engineering Into Schools, MATH3481 Mathematics into Schools and PHYS3611 Physics Into Schools.


  • To develop a range of key skills in the student and to offer an early taste of teaching Earth Sciences to those interested in pursuing it as a career or for other career pathways where public understanding of science is required.
  • To help students gain confidence in communicating Earth Sciences, develop strong organisational and interpersonal skills, and understand how to address the needs of individuals.
  • To learn to devise and develop Earth Sciences projects and teaching methods appropriate to engage the relevant age group they are working with.
  • To help inspire a new generation of Earth Scientists as prospective undergraduates by providing role models for school pupils.
  • To help teachers convey the excitement of their subject to pupils by showing them the long-term applications of school studies, especially the cross disciplinary relationships of Earth Sciences.
  • To help teachers by providing an assistant who can work with and support pupils at any point on the ability spectrum.


  • A competitive interview system will be used to match students with appropriate schools and a specific teacher in the local area, and each student selected will be given a chance to visit the school they will be working in before commencement of the placement.
  • One day training course on working in schools and with pupils.
  • Series of lectures on key transferable skills.
  • The student will be required to spend half a day (approx 4hrs) a week in the school every week for at least 10 weeks.
  • Tutorials which will provide an opportunity for students to share their experiences.
  • The students will be involved in the following activities in support of their learning and teaching:
  • Classroom observation and assistance: Initial contact with the teacher and pupils will be as a classroom assistant, watching how the teacher handles the class, observing the level being taught and the structure of the lesson, and offering practical support to the teacher.
  • Teaching assistance: The teacher will assign the student with actual teaching tasks, which will vary dependent on specific needs and the student's own ability as it develops over the term. This could include for example offering problem-solving coaching to a smaller group of higher ability pupils, or taking the last ten minutes of the lesson for the whole class. The student will have to demonstrate an understanding of how the level of the knowledge of the pupils they are teaching fits in to their overall learning context in other subjects.
  • Whole class teaching: Students will typically be offered, in collaboration with their teachers, at least one opportunity to undertake whole class teaching, albeit that it may be only for a small part of the lesson.
  • University awareness: Students will represent and promote their academic discipline as a potential university choice to pupils across the social and academic range represented at their partner schools.
  • Special projects: The student will devise a special Earth Sciences project on the basis of discussion with the teacher and module co-ordinator and their own assessment of what will interest the particular pupils they are working with. The student will implement the special project and evaluate it. The student will be required to show that they can analyse a specific teaching problem and devise and prepare appropriately targeted teaching materials, practical demonstrations and basis 'tests' where appropriate.
  • Extra-curricular projects: The student may be supervised by the teacher in helping to run an out-of-timetable activity, such as a lunchtime club or special coaching periods for higher ability pupils. The student will have to demonstrate an ability to think laterally in order to formulate interesting ways to illustrate more difficult scientific concepts.
  • Written reports: The student will keep a journal of their own progress in working in the classroom environment, and they will be asked to prepare a written report on the special project.
  • The teachers will act as the main source of guidance in the schools but, in addition, the students will also be able to discuss progress with the module co-ordinator or a member of the Science Outreach and Engagement Team whenever necessary.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students:
  • Will be able to assess and devise appropriate ways to communicate a difficult principle or concept.
  • Will have gained a broad understanding of many of the key aspects of teaching in schools.
  • Will have an advanced understanding of Earth Sciences through having to explain to others.
  • Will have an advanced understanding of the problems of public perception of science.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students:
  • Will know the responsibilites and appropriate conduct for a teacher.
  • Will know how to give (and take) feedback on Earth Sciences issues.
  • Will be able to undertake public speaking on Earth Sciences generally.
  • Will know how to prepare lesson plans and teaching materials for Earth Sciences.
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students:
  • Will be able to communicate effectively, both one to one and with small groups.
  • Will be able to understand the needs of individuals.
  • Will be able to use interpersonal skills when dealing with colleagues.
  • Will be able to improvise when necessary.
  • Will be able to organise, prioritise and negotiate.
  • Will know how to work with others in teams.

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

  • This module includes an initial training course, lectures, tutorials and a school placement.
  • The initial training course provides an introduction to working in schools and with pupils. The lectures provide the means to give a concise, focused presentation on generic aspects of key transferable skils (e.g. teaching and learning skills and presentation skills). The lecture material will be explicitly linked to scenarios that are likely to arise in the school placement. When appropriate, the lectures will also be supported by the distribution of written material, or by information and relevant links on DUO.
  • The tutorials will provide opportunity for students to share their experiences and to discuss specific issues in Earth Sciences education and the public perception of science, giving them the chance to develop their theoretical understanding and communication skills. Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by approaching the course leaders, either after lectures or tutorials or at other mutually convenient times.
  • The school placement allows the student to develop a range of interpersonal skills and the professional competencies expected of an effective teacher (or a facilitator to others), thus ensuring that the learning outcomes are met. Student performance will be summatively assessed through a Journal of Teaching Activity, an End of Module Report, an End of Module Presentation and a Teacher's Assessment.
  • The Journal of Teaching Activity and End of Module Report will provide the means for students to reflect on their own personal development, on their experience of school and the organisation of teaching and on pupils' science learning, and to demonstrate written communication skills.
  • The End of Module Presentation will enable students to give a practical demonstration of teaching competencies including oral communication skills.
  • The Teacher's Assessment is an independent corroboration of progress, including the student's approach, attitude, appreciation of key educational skills and performance in the Special Project.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
One-day training course 1 6 6
Lectures 4 1 4
Tutorials 6 1 6
School placement 10 1 per week 4 40
Preparation and Reading 144
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Journal of Teaching Activity Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Journal of Teaching Activity 100%
Component: End of module report Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
End of module report 4000 words 100%
Component: End of module presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
End of module presentation 20 minutes including time for questions 100%
Component: Teacher's assessment Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Teacher's assessment 100%

Formative Assessment:

Tutorial discussion of students' experiences; lesson evaluations; informal discussions of student progress with teachers or with the course coordinator when necessary, including interim feedback on design of Special Project.

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

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