Study Abroad and Exchanges



GEO2135 : Rivers (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Rationale: Rivers are a fundamental part of the earth’s system. As well as being a major component of the hydrological cycle, rivers transport large volumes of sediment and therefore are major agents of landscape evolution. Although rivers are an important global resource, during floods, they constitute a potent natural hazard. Understanding of rivers is therefore vital for their successful management and reduction of societal risk.

Aims: This module aims to: (1) provide an understanding of how rivers function in terms of processes and resultant landforms/landscapes; and (2) provide first-hand experience of field techniques used to measure river (fluvial) processes and laboratory techniques to analyse fluvial sediment.

This module provides students with the theoretical background relating to a major area of process geomorphology. The module is designed (a) to explore geomorphological processes in significantly greater depth than material introduced in GEO1020 (Introduction to Physical Geography) and in GEO1019 (Physical Geography Field Course); (b) to provide an essential knowledge base and practical and field skills for compulsory field modules in Stage 2 and optional field modules in Stage 3; and (c) to provide essential theoretical background for F800, FH82 and L701 students undertaking dissertation research in modern fluvial systems, complementing the GEO2111 dissertation planning module.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Syllabus will cover a wide range of fluvial processes:
•       Introduction to river systems
•       Origin of river systems
•       Sediment and water sources
•       Fundamentals of water flow in river channels
•       Measurement and monitoring of water flow in river channels
•       Sediment entrainment
•       Bedrock erosional processes and forms
•       Sediment transport and deposition
•       Sediment transport measurement and monitoring
•       Bedforms and sedimentary structures
•       Field description of fluvial deposits
•       Laboratory analysis of fluvial deposits
•       Alluvial channels and bars
•       Role of vegetation in fluvial systems
•       Channel pattern
•       Channel gradient and river long profiles
•       Deltas
•       River channel change through time
•       Role of floods in river systems
•       Long term, large-scale evolution of fluvial systems
•       Human impacts on river channels

•       Field trip briefing
•       Post field data analysis workshops
•       Computer practicals (pre- and post- fieldwork)
•       Grain size analysis practical (post fieldwork)

Two non-residential single-day field trips to the River Coquet, Northumberland (one in each semester).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion155:0055:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1041:00104:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce key concepts across a range of fluvial process and fluvial geomorphological themes, present case studies. Fieldwork will enable students to be trained in the use of specific field data collection techniques which will allow the interpretation of fluvial processes and landscapes. Practical classes will allow students to gain direct experience of analysing both primary and secondary fluvial geomorphological data sets thereby developing skills relevant to the investigation of river systems.

Attendance at practicals and field trips are compulsory. Attendance registers will be taken for all practical sessions and field days. In the absence of mitigating circumstances non-attendance will result in zero for missed components.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A502 hours, 2 questions from 6
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The synoptic exam will examine the lecture-based knowledge gained by students. Lectures, supplemented by student reading, impart the essential knowledge base for this and other follow-on modules (fieldtrips, dissertation) and it is appropriate to formally test this knowledge base.

The report assesses the ability of students to analyze and present a range of primary and secondary field data. The report assesses their ability to relate field results to literature and their development of critical argument. Over all the field report assesses written communication skills and report writing style.

Reading Lists