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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 4 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

  • GEOL4101 Petroleum Geoscience IV, GEOL4111 Environmental Geochemistry IV, GEOL4171 Paleobiology IV, GEOL3091 Tectonics and Deformation Processes, GEOL4161 Earth Structure and Dynamics IV, GEOL4131 Petroleum Geophysics IV, GEOL4141 Earth System and Climate IV, GEOL4151 Hydrogeology and Geomechanics IV.


  • To develop an advanced understanding of 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 critically assess the relationships between large-scale geophysical observations and the macroscopic rheological behaviour of the Earth.
  • To systematically describe microstructures and relate these to deformation mechanisms in naturally deformed rocks.
  • To develop an advanced understanding of the relationships between grain-scale deformation mechanisms and large-scale lithosphere dynamics.
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 advanced 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.
  • Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Consider received information critically, even that received from a perceived reliable source.
  • Analyse conventionally accepted information based on independent thought.
  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences in written and verbal forms.
  • Put together a short but effective written review of a tectonics and deformation processes topic of the students choosing.
  • Use internet and library resources effectively.
  • Acquire skills necessary for self-managed lifelong learning including independent research, critical analysis, and time management.
  • Identify and work towards targets for personal and academic development.

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.
  • Two timetabled meetings during Michaelmas and Epiphany terms (four total) designed specifically to promote advanced critical reasoning, scientific research, and scientific writing skills, and writing skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecturers 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Practicals 20 Weekly 2 hours 40
Advanced skills practical sessions 4 Twice per term 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 60%
2000-word essay 40%

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.