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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE1034 Natural Hazards

10 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Prof Jeff Peakall

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

- How do tsunamis form and why are they so destructive?- What can be done to minimise their impact? - Why is the current response to the Sumatran tsunami wrong? - Why and how was New Orleans flooded? - What might have been different if President Bush had taken this discovery module?- How many Bangladeshi lives could be saved for the same amount of money as the annual subsidy on an EU cow? Come and find out the answers to these questions and hundreds more, across the whole spectrum of Natural Hazards. Such hazards annually take 10,000's of lives and cause billions of pounds of damage. Examine the physical processes that control natural disasters and learn what can be done to minimise the death and destruction caused by these events.Topics covered include volcanoes, earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and meteorite impacts. Two lectures are also included on tsunamis, and the science behind the Boxing Day Sumatra tsunami. We also touch upon the response of societies to natural hazards. We can be 100% certain that thousands of people will be killed by natural hazards during the duration of the course, and we will examine some of these 'current' events during the course. The course gets fantastic feedback: this from 2005/2006, "People not even on this course come along anyway just because it is enjoyable and people speak so highly of it?"Why not just sign up! No previous science background is required.


On completion of this module students should have a broad understanding of:
- the physical processes that control natural hazards;
- the methods of assessing and monitoring natural hazards;
- and societal responses to these events, and the types and magnitudes of natural hazards that have occurred in the geological past.
- the influence of population growth and economic development on the magnitude and frequency of natural hazards will also be obtained.

This broad understanding will be coupled with a knowledge of specific examples.


- Earthquakes: causes, location, detection, hazard assessment and planning
- Volcanic hazards: causes, plate tectonic settings, types and threats, assessment of risks and planning
- Flooding: causes, location and planning responses, large-scale flood alleviation schemes
- Landslides: factors influencing slope stability and instability
- Coastal hazards: causes of erosion, tropical cyclones, storm surges
- The influence of population growth and economic development on natural hazards
- Deep-space impacts: nature of the threat, frequency-magnitude relationships and probabilities
- Environmental change and natural hazards: models, predictions and environmental impact
- Geological disasters: types, magnitudes and effects.

These topics will be supported by case studies which will include many of the major natural hazard induced disasters that have occurred in the past few years, as well as key geological disasters.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

- 3 hours reading per lecture: 48 hours
- Reading on a specific topic to be announced at the start of each year and will be assessed by examination: 11 hours
- Revision time: 25 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

None during course.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/04/2015


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