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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE2955 Deformation Processes

10 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Sandra Piazolo

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Partial replacement of former SOEE2050 Deformation Mechanisms

Module replaces

L1 core modules for Geophysics BSc

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the origin and characteristics of deformation on Earth and their link to the main geotectonic environments. The students will integrate details of the deformation behaviour and its associated structure with the occurrence and nature of progressive deformation and metamorphism. Students will learn how to record, describe, quantify and interpret deformation structures from small to large scale and to synthesize data in order to develop the geological history of an area.


By the end of this module, students will:
• Have an understanding of the ways in which Earth materials deform from small to large scale building upon level 1 knowledge.
• Be able to link scales of structure and material properties from the field, outcrops, hand-specimen and thin-section by integrating analytical techniques with practical examples
• Be able apply the knowledge of deformation processes and their rheological consequences to understand geological histories.
• Be able to determine rock histories and the sequence of processes to which rocks have been subjected from hand specimen and thin section analysis
• Be able to conduct field-based project work in an efficient and safe manner

Learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
1. Explain the ways in which Earth materials can deform.
2. Link scales of structure from the regional to local, outcrop, hand-specimen and thin-section by integrating analytical techniques with practical examples.
3. Prepare for field-based project work through laboratory and field exercises.
4. Work as part of a group to gather and pool observations across a suite of field observations and Satellite observations to understand geotectonic evolution of an area.

Skills outcomes
Field work skills
Project planning and execution
3D spatial thinking through time
Resilience to adverse condition
Earth Observation
Thinsection Description and Analysis
Ability to interrogate and synthesise complex datasets


Lectures will focus on the following concepts reinforced and explored via weekly practical classes:
- The mechanics of deformation and the formation and description of geological structures and their relationship to stress and strain
- Quantitative methods to derive past stress and strain
- Principle and methods of identification and quantification of incremental strain, kinematics and polyphase and progressive deformation at a variety of metamorphic grades
- Principles of fault and shear zone evolution including the study of microstructures
- Characteristics of fault-fold networks at various scales and in different geotectonic environments (thrust, normal and strike slip regimes)
- Principles of satellite Earth Observation techniques
- Interpretation of geological history by the integration of several geological datasets derived from the field, maps and/or cross-section

Field class (2.5 days):
- Collection, description and interpretation of field data and geomorphological features.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Case Study22.004.00
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Group learning22.001.00
Independent online learning hours15.00
Private study hours30.00
Total Contact hours55.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Private study will be
- Some independent field analysis
- preparation for group assessment
- 2 * 1 hr evening private study during field class,
- independent reading of recommended text books,
- independent revision of lectures and practical notes,
- completing any unfinished work from practical classes.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In practicals, staff and demonstrators provide continuous formative feedback, with occasional exercises run as small class tests under exam conditions with feedback provided afterwards. Model answers and solutions provided for some practical work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group ProjectSynoptic group assignment30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

alternative format assessment for fieldwork available (virtual fieldtrip) A resit would likely take a different form (not group work), but be comparable in learning outcomes

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S2)2 hr 70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

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: 26/05/2022 14:15:15


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