New course structures for September 2022 entry

Earth science courses

Why are we amending the structure?

Earth science skills and expertise are critical in tackling today’s challenges of global environmental change. Ranging from locating and extracting the raw materials needed for a green energy transition to understanding climate history through time, the Earth sciences play an active role and provide crucial perspectives. We have recently updated our programme structure to reflect the changing demands.

How we are amending the structure:

During years 1 and 2 all of our Earth science courses are designed around a shared 80-credit core of Earth science modules that will provide a thorough integrated overview of the fundamental processes and their relevance to society. 

For each individual course, this core is complemented by 40 credits of differentiator modules that will provide a distinct perspective for each degree course from either geology, environmental science, ocean science, or geography.

During year 3 the core modules cover 60 credits of honours project and professional development. These are complemented by 60 credits from a range of optional and/or core specialist modules that enable you to tailor your degree to your particular interest.

 

Detailed module information:

Year 1 modules

Core modules 

GEOL1008 (Sustainable Geoscience) – 20 credits

This module provides an introduction to sustainable geoscience and the role of geoscientists in the solution of global challenges and UN sustainable development goals. Introduction to good, professional and ethical scientific practice. The module also introduces the Earth as a system of interlinked spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere), and the unifying paradigms associated with geological time and plate tectonics. 

GEOL1009 (Earth Materials and Resources) – 20 credits

This module provides an introduction to Earth materials (minerals, rocks and resources) and geological structures, focussing on their formation, composition and properties from a theoretical and practical perspective, supported by case study(ies). The environmental and ethical issues associated with resource exploitation will be introduced. Students will be introduced to safe and professional field practice. 

GEOL1010 (Climate, Tectonics and Hazards) – 40 credits

This module provides an introduction to Earth Surface processes and their interactions with plate tectonics, at present and in the geological past. Participants learn how an understanding of Earth surface processes and environments can be used in determining the cause and nature of past and future climate and oceanographic change, and in the understanding, prediction and mitigation of a range of geological hazards.


BSc (Hons) Geology – differentiator module  

GEOL1011 (The Life and Death of an Ocean) – 40 credits

This module will explore the concept of the Wilson Cycle whereby major oceans periodically open and close, causing reconfiguration of the size, shape and position of the continents through geological time. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the interactions between plate tectonics and earth surface systems and palaeontological evidence for past environments and environmental change.


BSc (Hons) Environmental Geoscience – differentiator modules  

ENVS1003 (The Biosphere) – 20 credits

This module introduces students to human impacts on the biosphere and highlights how knowledge of fundamental ecological concepts can be used to understand human impacts and mitigate their effects. You will develop knowledge and understanding of key biological and ecological principles relevant to environmental science and of the nature, composition and diversity of living systems. 

ENVS1008 (Environmental Management and Protection) – 20 credits

This module covers introductory aspects of environmental sustainability. Critical evaluation of social, environmental and economic aspects of the environmental issues faced by our planet and how they may be solved by using regulation, the law, corporate social responsibility, specific European Union directives, impact assessments and environmental management systems.

 

BSc (Hons) Geology with Ocean Science – differentiator modules 

OS102 (Physical and Chemical Processes of the Ocean) – 20 credits

This module provides an introduction to the main physical and chemical processes occurring in the world's oceans and a foundation in key aspects of underpinning science and mathematics. 

OS109 (Introduction to Biodiversity and Marine Ecosystems) – 20 credits

This module will provide an introduction to biodiversity with particular focus on marine organisms. Students will be taught how we name and classify species using a hierarchical system. Students will learn where different organisms live and how they interact in various ecosystems in our oceans. Students will gain a basic understanding of food webs, primary production and marine ecology.

 

BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology – differentiator modules 

GGP1207 (Hydrology and Geomorphology) – 20 credits

Here we begin our overview of contemporary physical geography. The module is structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about the environment. Lectures provide a framework for understanding these themes, and through supporting laboratory classes we explore examples of their local manifestation using quantitative data, graphic and spatial statistical analysis. 

GGP1206 (Environment and Climate) – 20 credits

Here we continue our overview of contemporary physical geography (which begins in GGP1207). The module is structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about environment al processes and change. Lectures provide a framework for understanding these themes, and we explore in more detail local examples in laboratory and practical sessions.


Year 2 modules

Core modules  

GEOL2014 (The Earth Surface and Critical Zone) – 40 credits

This module provides a practical and theoretical understanding to the analysis of the Earth surface and near surface (the Critical Zone), integrating a range of data and analytical methods to explore present and ancient environments. 

GEOL2015 (The Earth’s Interior and Resources) – 40 credits

This module provides a theoretical and practical understanding of the analysis of the Earth’s subsurface. Students learn how to analyse and interpret subsurface data (including geophysical techniques) and geological materials formed in the subsurface, applications of these techniques and knowledge in resource exploration and production, and the impacts of subsurface investigations.


BSc (Hons) Geology – differentiator modules  

GEOL2016 (Ocean Geoscience) – 20 credits

This module develops an in-depth understanding on modern ocean basins and the role the oceans play in Earth’s evolution. Students will build up knowledge on mid-ocean ridge processes, sedimentary environments, palaeoceanography and palaeoclimates (and how these inform models for future environmental change, with an awareness of the limitations of such models), ocean hazards and resources. 

GEOL2017 (The Building of Britain) – 20 credits

This module provides an understanding of key periods in the geological evolution of the British Isles within a plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental context. Students gain a practical understanding of the relationships between tectonic and palaeo-climatic/oceanographic events in the stratigraphic, structural, magmatic, metamorphic and fossil record of Britain and environs, and their relationship to resource/hazard distribution.


BSc (Hons) Environmental Geoscience – differentiator modules  

ENVS2004 (Environmental Issues and Communication) – 20 credits

Through immersion in contemporary environmental issues, this module develops the knowledge and skills necessary to locate, analyse, evaluate and communicate scientific information in a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. Students develop their professional skills, as well as the skills to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and decision makers, from scientific experts to the general public. 

ENVS2003 (Environmental Management and Sustainability) – 20 credits

The module covers areas of knowledge essential for all environmental science graduates: ecological economics, life supporting resources and environmental law.

BSc (Hons) Geology with Ocean Science – differentiator modules 

OS201 (Global Ocean Processes) – 20 credits

This module explores the large-scale distribution and characteristics of water masses and biogeochemical properties throughout the global oceans. Physical mechanisms that drive the global circulation in a changing climate will be investigated alongside their role in determining the transport of chemical constituents throughout the open ocean and in shelf seas. The life cycles and distribution of marine organisms and the structuring of marine foodwebs will be explored. 

OS204 (Tides and Coastal Dynamics) – 20 credits

This module provides an introduction to the characteristics of ocean waves and focuses on how waves and tides interact with the coast and drive the coastal processes that result in shoreline erosion and accretion. 

BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology – differentiator modules 

Semester 1: Choose one of these two geography optional modules: 

Option 1: GGP2207 (Catchment to Coast) – 20 credits

Practically all human-environment interactions take place within river catchments and the coastal zone. To address key environmental challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and sustainable resource management, we need to understand how these integrated systems function. This module provides the process knowledge required to contribute to global and local debates, and includes field and laboratory work. 

Option 2: GGP2206 (Quaternary to Anthropocene) – 20 credits

The Earth has undergone significant and fundamental changes during our current interglacial period (the last ~12,000 years), to the point of a new Geological epoch being suggested: the Anthropocene. This module focuses on deepening students’ understanding of how our planet has moved from one that was nature-dominated to the current culture-dominated environment we inhabit, at both local, continental and global scales. 

Semester 2: 

ENVS 2005 (Weather and Climate) – 20 credits

Understanding weather and climate is essential for developing in-depth knowledge on how climate is changing today and will change in the future. This module will develop intellectual and practical skills in critical analysis of weather and climate data. In addition, an examination of the scientific evidence for current and predicted effects of weather and climate will be addressed.

Year 3 modules - MGeol (Hons) Geology and BSc (Hons) Geology only

Core modules 

GEOL3016 (Geoscience Research Project) – 40 credits

This module involves the planning, data collection, data analysis and manipulation, interpretation and presentation of a substantive piece of original geological research, based around primary data collection by the student. The project may involve field, laboratory, desk-based or combination study.

GEOL3017 (The Professional Geoscientist) – 20 credits

This module delivers an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a professional geoscientist, within the context of environmental and social governance and sustainable development goals. It includes the execution of a multidisciplinary and inclusive team project to address a real-world industrial challenge, integrating a variety of data provided by industry. Teams present their work to a variety of audiences.

Optional modules 

GEOL3013 (Environmental Change In Earth History) – 20 credits

This module evaluates cutting-edge techniques to understand and interpret modern and ancient environmental change. It uses an integrated approach using fossils, sediments and geochemistry to investigate topical and exciting case studies from the geological past and modern systems. The module has important implications for understanding and responding to modern-day environmental change. 

GEOL3014 (Geohazards and Risks) – 20 credits

This module will provide an overview of common and destructive geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions), how they interact together and ways of assessing risk. Physical processes of the hazards will be covered and how they will interact together. Quantifying hazard and risk will be illustrated through case studies. Practicals will have a numerical theme and will link to employability. 

GEOL3015 (Energy Transition Geoscience) – 20 credits

This module gives an understanding of current and predicted energy scenarios, impact of energy use and the role of geoscientists in decarbonisation and meeting global sustainable development goals. You learn how energy resources form (petroleum, geothermal, critical minerals) and theory, strategies and practical skills used in resource exploration, development and production, and evaluation of carbon capture & storage. 

GEOL3018 (Tectonics Through Time) – 20 credits

This module explores the fundamentals of plate tectonics as applied to crustal (magmatic and structural) evolution through deep geological time, including early Earth. We will take a holistic view of several Precambrian and Phanerozoic orogens, compare and contrast tectonic models that have been developed to explain them and consider when plate tectonics as we now understand it became established on Earth. 

GEOL3010 (Engineering Geology) – 20 credits

This module examines the application of earth science techniques and knowledge to civil engineering. Includes desk studies, remote sensing interpretation, database analysis, UK and European Codes of Practice, site investigation design, ground model development, engineering geology in a range of construction situations, and technical reporting. 

GEOL3019 (Neotectonics, Hazards and Resources) – 20 credits

This module involves the study of a tectonically active setting to gain an in-depth understanding of how active tectonics and environmental change interact and have evolved to control the nature and distribution of geological and geomorphological features, natural hazards and resources. The impacts/mitigation of hazards and resource exploitation are evaluated, usually around field data. 


Year 3 modules - BSc (Hons) Environmental Geoscience only

Core modules 

GEOL3016 (Geoscience Research Project) – 40 credits

This module involves the planning, data collection, data analysis and manipulation, interpretation and presentation of a substantive piece of original geological research, based around primary data collection by the student. The project may involve field, laboratory, desk-based or combination study. 

ENVS3012 (The Environmental Professional) – 20 credits

A series of real-world scenarios, which typical professionals in the environmental sector are exposed to, will be considered in an objective, scientific and interdisciplinary manner, taking into account a range of stakeholders. The material and professional development will be supported with guest speakers, seminar and workshops.

 

Optional modules from environmental science 

ENVS3013 (Global Environmental Solutions) – 20 credits

In this module students will take an interdisciplinary solution-based approach to contemporary global environmental issues employing both ecological economics principles and environmental law. 

ENVS3011 (Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation) – 20 credits

The module introduces climate change adaptation and mitigation. Biotic and technological mitigation will be explored and evaluated in the context of different geographical settings.


Optional modules from geology
 

GEOL3013 (Environmental Change In Earth History) – 20 credits

This module evaluates cutting-edge techniques to understand and interpret modern and ancient environmental change. It uses an integrated approach using fossils, sediments and geochemistry to investigate topical and exciting case studies from the geological past and modern systems. The module has important implications for understanding and responding to modern-day environmental change. 

GEOL3014 (Geohazards and Risks) – 20 credits

This module will provide an overview of common and destructive geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions), how they interact together and ways of assessing risk. Physical processes of the hazards will be covered and how they will interact together. Quantifying hazard and risk will be illustrated through case studies. Practicals will have a numerical theme and will link to employability. 

GEOL3015 (Energy Transition Geoscience) – 20 credits

This module gives an understanding of current and predicted energy scenarios, impact of energy use and the role of geoscientists in decarbonisation and meeting global sustainable development goals. You learn how energy resources form (petroleum, geothermal, critical minerals) and theory, strategies and practical skills used in resource exploration, development and production, and evaluation of carbon capture & storage.

 

Optional modules from geology and/or geography 

GEOL3010 (Engineering Geology) – 20 credits

This module examines the application of earth science techniques and knowledge to civil engineering. Includes desk studies, remote sensing interpretation, database analysis, UK and European Codes of Practice, site investigation design, ground model development, engineering geology in a range of construction situations, and technical reporting. 

GEOL3019 (Neotectonics, Hazards and Resources) – 20 credits

This module involves the study of a tectonically active setting to gain an in-depth understanding of how active tectonics and environmental change interact and have evolved to control the nature and distribution of geological and geomorphological features, natural hazards and resources. The impacts/mitigation of hazards and resource exploitation are evaluated, usually around field data. 

GGP3204 (Biological Conservation) 20 credits

This module examinee the pursuit of biological conservation. Drawing on a wide range of case study material, in temperate and tropical, terrestrial and aqueous environments, the module examines the drivers and rationales for biological conservation, and the role of stakeholders, policies, legislation and practices in achieving it.

Year 3 modules - BSc (Hons) Geology with Ocean Science only

Earth science core modules 

GEOL3016 (Geoscience Research Project) – 40 credits

This module involves the planning, data collection, data analysis and manipulation, interpretation and presentation of a substantive piece of original geological research, based around primary data collection by the student. The project may involve field, laboratory, desk-based or combination study.

GEOL3017 (The Professional Geoscientist) – 20 credits

This module delivers an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a professional geoscientist, within the context of environmental and social governance and sustainable development goals. It includes the execution of a multidisciplinary and inclusive team project to address a real-world industrial challenge, integrating a variety of data provided by industry. Teams present their work to a variety of audiences.


Ocean science core modules 

OS303 (Ocean Dynamics) – 20 credits

The module provides an introduction to dynamical oceanography with emphasis on the large- and meso-scale circulation in the world ocean and shelf seas. Topics include geostrophic and wind driven currents, eddies, formation of fronts, upwelling, interactions between water masses, exchanges between shelf and deep seas. Emphasis is placed on quantitative understanding of physical processes and the analysis of field data. 

OS306 (Coastal Geomorphology and Estuaries) – 20 credits

A study of the different geomorphological archetypes of the coastal zone which builds on the student's knowledge of physical processes to describe how the geographical characteristics of these zones develop. The module explores how the characteristics of these zones influence the associated ecosystems and examines how human utilisation of this space contributes to or conflicts with the natural setting.

Optional modules from geology 

GEOL3013 (Environmental Change In Earth History) – 20 credits

This module evaluates cutting-edge techniques to understand and interpret modern and ancient environmental change. It uses an integrated approach using fossils, sediments and geochemistry to investigate topical and exciting case studies from the geological past and modern systems. The module has important implications for understanding and responding to modern-day environmental change. 

GEOL3014 (Geohazards and Risks) – 20 credits

This module will provide an overview of common and destructive geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions), how they interact together and ways of assessing risk. Physical processes of the hazards will be covered and how they will interact together. Quantifying hazard and risk will be illustrated through case studies. Practicals will have a numerical theme and will link to employability. 

GEOL3015 (Energy Transition Geoscience) – 20 credits

This module gives an understanding of current and predicted energy scenarios, impact of energy use and the role of geoscientists in decarbonisation and meeting global sustainable development goals. You learn how energy resources form (petroleum, geothermal, critical minerals) and theory, strategies and practical skills used in resource exploration, development and production, and evaluation of carbon capture & storage.


Year 3 - BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology only

Earth science core modules 

GEOL3016 (Geoscience Research Project) – 40 credits

This module involves the planning, data collection, data analysis and manipulation, interpretation and presentation of a substantive piece of original geological research, based around primary data collection by the student. The project may involve field, laboratory, desk-based or combination study. 

GEOL3017 (The Professional Geoscientist) – 20 credits

This module delivers an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a professional geoscientist, within the context of environmental and social governance and sustainable development goals. It includes the execution of a multidisciplinary and inclusive team project to address a real-world industrial challenge, integrating a variety of data provided by industry. Teams present their work to a variety of audiences.


Geography optional modules 

GGP3205 (Global Climate Change) – 20 credits

This module is concerned with climate and environmental change in the past, present and future. Different timescales of climate change and their potential mechanisms are examined in detail. We critically review the process of future climate change prediction and review societal response options. 

GGX3203 (Work Based Learning in Geography) – 20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for work based learning. Students work with an appropriate host organisation for a minimum of 100 hours, engaged on activities relevant to geographical skills, knowledge and expertise. 

GGX3204 (Big Data & Spatial Analytics) – 20 credits

This module provides an overview of advanced spatial analysis concepts and facilitates practice of data processing and management skills. Data manipulation through programming is introduced and the concept of big data is presented. Themes and practice around the acquisition, processing, analysis, visualisation and application of big data are explored, drawing on examples from across the natural and social sciences.


Optional modules from geology and/or geography 

GEOL3010 (Engineering Geology) – 20 credits

This module examines the application of earth science techniques and knowledge to civil engineering. Includes desk studies, remote sensing interpretation, database analysis, UK and European Codes of Practice, site investigation design, ground model development, engineering geology in a range of construction situations, and technical reporting. 

GEOL3019 (Neotectonics, Hazards and Resources) – 20 credits

This module involves the study of a tectonically active setting to gain an in-depth understanding of how active tectonics and environmental change interact and have evolved to control the nature and distribution of geological and geomorphological features, natural hazards and resources. The impacts/mitigation of hazards and resource exploitation are evaluated, usually around field data. 

GGP3209 (Dryland Change) 20 credits

Drylands comprise 47% of the world’s land surface and are home to > 2 billion people. They are highly susceptible to environmental change (human, climate, tectonic), and preserve archives of that change over human to Quaternary timescales. This module builds expertise in reading the geomorphological record of drylands (process and landform), and examines the challenges of living sustainably with these dynamic landscapes.

Year 4 - MGeol (Hons) Geology only

Core modules 

GEOL5001 (Geoscience Frontiers: Research and Communication) – 20 credits

Topical issues in pure and applied Earth Science provide the context for conveying the basic elements of geoscientific research. Students will get guidance on the research methodologies that underpin geological research, and receive training in generic research skills, such as project planning and management, scientific ethics, funding arrangements, and communicating research to both technical and non-technical audiences. 

GEOL5002 (MGeol Advanced Fieldwork) – 20 credits

This module is based around a series of case study based geoscience problems which require students to find appropriate field and follow-up lab techniques, apply them, interpret the results and report on these results through a series of industry style group and individual presentations and technical workshops. 

GEOL5003 (Advanced Analytical Skills) – 20 credits

This module aims to provide a practical knowledge and understanding of a range of analytical techniques used in the field of geochemistry through a series of case studies. To enable students to synthesis the dataset acquired and allow them to report it through a series of conference style presentations. 

GEOL5004 (MGeol Project) – 60 credits

Advanced, independent research project, normally involving geological field and/or laboratory work. Autonomy will be expected with respect to the design and operation of the project. Professionally presented results will entail rigorous analysis, critical awareness, and current contextual significance.