We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

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


  • GEOL1081, Further Mathematics for Geoscientists


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • GEOL4101 Geological Evolution and Petroleum Systems of The British Isles IV, GEOL4111 Environmental Geochemistry IV, GEOL3151 Earth Structure and Dynamics, GEOL4121 Deformation Processes in the Lithosphere, GEOL4131 Hazardous Geophysical Flows IV, GEOL4141 Earth System and Climate IV.


  • To acquire a fundamental understanding of the structure and dynamics of the interior of the Earth, how these are investigated and modelled numerically, and to understand current research approaches.


  • Earthquake seismology.
  • Heat flow.
  • Mantle geodynamics.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To understand why earthquakes occur and how they are measured.
  • To understand earthquake magnitudes and source physics.
  • To understand how to apply seismic observations to image the global Earth.
  • To understand the processes by which heat is transferred within the solid Earth.
  • To understand the physics behind convection in the Earth.
  • To acquire an advanced level of knowledge and understanding of the structure and composition of the Earth across different geological timescales.
  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of Earth materials
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Manipulate earthquake data to extract key parameters.
  • Solve numerical problems using both computer-based and paper-based techniques.
  • Critically evaluate the assumptions and uncertainties inherent in a model or analysis.
  • Make simplifying assumptions to enable analysis of a complex geological problem or situation.
  • Acquire the skills to synthesise data from a variety of sources.
  • Acquire the skills to analyse, evaluate and interpret geophysical and geological data.
Key Skills:
  • Develop problem-solving skills, initiative and persistence in tackling unfamiliar and challenging questions through supervised practical work and summative assessments.
  • Develop skills to discuss, evaluate, and review work with colleagues through peer review and discussion.
  • Evaluate and reflect on assumptions and uncertainties in analysis through supervised practical work and summative assessments.
  • 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 an Earth Structure and Dynamics 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 lecture and two hour practical slots, supported by handouts, directed reading and web-based material.
  • The practicals provide opportunities to apply principles, concepts and theory to case studies and practical examples.
  • Summative assessment is made up of three practical assessments.
  • Formative assessment is provided via peer-marked class tests, peer-review and discussion in preparation for summative assessment 3, and DUO tests. Verbal and written feedback will guide students to develop the ability to manipulate earthquake data, extract key parameters, solve numerical problems and evaluate assumptions and uncertainties.
  • 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 19 Weekly 1 hour 19
Practicals 19 Weekly 2 hours 38
Advanced skills practical sessions 4 Twice per term 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 135
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continual Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Continual assessment 1 Report 30%
Continual assessment 2 Report 30%
2000-word essay 40%

Formative Assessment:

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.