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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2080 Earth Surface Processes

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Mark Smith

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24


GEOG1040Dynamic Landscapes

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

An understanding of hydrological processes is fundamental to all forms of water management, and this module focuses on temperate and glacierised catchments. The measurement of different parts of the hydrological cycle is dealt with as well as the hazards associated with hydrological processes, such as flooding. The second part of the module looks at glacial environments, considering how they are changing with climate, the landforms associated with glacier erosion and deposition, and how glacier hydrology and motion interact at the ice-bedrock interface.


The objectives of the module are to:
1. Establish the major hydrological and glacial processes operating in the natural environment.
2. Demonstrate how earth surface processes impact on landscape evolution and natural hazard development.
3. Explain how hydrological and glacial processes change across space and through time and in response to natural forcing.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should be able to:

- Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the hydrological cycle and measurement of its different components.
- Understand some of the risks associated with the hydrological cycle, such as flooding.
- Critically evaluate anthropogenic impacts on the hydrological cycle.
- Outline the principles of glacier mass balance, glacier motion and glacier hydrology.
- Identify the major erosional and depositional processes shaping glacial environments and the landforms associated with them.
- Show a critical understanding of the hazards associated with glacial catchments.

Skills outcomes
Knowledge and Understanding
The diversity of global environments and the operation of, and inter-relationships between physical and biological systems over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales
Patterns and processes of environmental change and their inter-relationships with human activities

Cognitive skills
Abstraction and synthesis of information from a variety of sources
Assessment and critical evaluation of the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies
Critical analysis and interpretation of data and text
Developing reasoned arguments
Solving problems and making reasoned decisions

Practical/professional skills
Plan, design, execute and report geographical research both individually and as part of a team

Interpret and synthesise different types of quantitative and qualitative geographical data

Key skills
Learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations
Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations)
Apply numerical and computational skills to geographical information
Use information technology effectively (including use of spreadsheet, database and word processing programmes; Internet and e-mail)
Identify, retrieve, sort and exchange geographical information using a wide range of sources
Work as part of a team and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others
Manage time and organise work effectively


- Components of the hydrological cycle.
- Hydrological measurement.
- Channel hydraulics and sediment transport
- Hazards in river catchments.
- Glacier hydrology.
- Glacier motion.
- Glacial erosion and deposition.
- Hazards in glacierised catchments (outbursts and avalanches).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours162.00
Total Contact hours38.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study spread over the two semesters involves:
1. Reading to support lectures.
2. Reading research papers/reports in preparation for practical and field work.
3. Reading for, and preparation of, assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Informal question/answer sessions during lectures.
Practical sessions under supervision, before individual write up.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportGlacial geomorphology field report 1200 words50.00
ReportHydrological data analysis 1200 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Re-sit information: If students do not attend the practicals they will be set a report using provided data or an essay by way of re-sit. If they do attend, but fail or do not submit the coursework, they will be allowed to re-sit (the field / data analysis exercises).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 23/02/2024


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