Study Abroad and Exchanges



GEO3136 : Applied Geomorphology and Natural Hazards

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Rationale: All human activity interacts with the physical environment, approaching it as either a resource or a hazard. Increasing population, urbanisation and associated anthropogenic disturbance of natural systems constitute major societal challenges, especially when combined with the impacts of climate change. Increases in societal vulnerability to natural hazards combine with major changes in the earth’s atmospheric, hydrological, cryospheric, oceanic and near surface systems to increase risk to population and infrastructure. Mitigation of the risk associated with natural hazards such as: floods (coastal, fluvial and glacial), slope instability and volcanic eruptions requires understanding of earth surface (geomorphological) processes, geomorphological history as well as a range of systems for earth surface and sub-surface measurement and monitoring.

This module aims to provide you with a detailed understanding of how physical geographical knowledge is used in the management of geomorphological processes and natural hazards.

In order to fulfil the above aims you will:

(1)       be introduced to knowledge of processes associated range of natural hazards and environmental management issues;
(2)       use case studies to demonstrate the value and use of physical geographical knowledge in implementing policies for civil protection and environmental management;
(3)       be introduced to a range of cutting-edge techniques for characterising the earth’s surface and sub-surface;
(4)       undertake a mini research project on an applied physical geography theme; and
(5)       give a presentation on your chosen project

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will consist of an introduction to applied geomorphology and geohazards. Proposed topics that the lectures are likely to cover include:

• Introduction to applied geomorphology and natural hazards (AR)
• Fluvial processes (AR)
• Flood processes and geomorphology (AR)
• UK flood hazards (AR/MP)
• Flash flood monitoring technologies (MP)
• Geomorphological data for flood hazard management (MP)
• Glacier hazards (AR)
• Volcano-ice hazards (AR)
• Surface and subsurface investigation of glacial deposits (AR)
• Surface and subsurface investigation of glaciofluvial deposits, sand & gravel resources, groundwater aquifers (AR)
• Professional Applied Geomorphology (AR & MP)

Practicals: A selection from:

• UK flood hazard mapping (MP)
• Remote sensing of natural hazards (e.g. Laser scanning and LiDAR) (AR & MP)
•       Volcanic hazard mapping (AR)
•       Runout modelling of large rock avalanches/debris flows (MP & AR)


1. Compulsory 1 day field trip to visit a geohazard in N England.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical82:0016:00Require repeat sessions depending on class size
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide an overview of applied geomorphology and natural hazards, and their societal impacts.

Practicals will be used to introduce students to a suite of techniques and methodologies to measure and observe surface and sub-surface properties and processes associated with natural hazards (e.g. landslides, earthquakes, flooding). Students will be trained to process, analyse and interpret these datasets to understand ‘real-world’ geomorphic problems.

Presentations made by students during the workshop/mini-conference will be used to provide an opportunity for students to receive pre-Easter formative feedback on their project prior to the full project report write-up that will be due post-Easter.

Presentations and report writing are critical skills for students who may wish to pursue a career in Environmental Consultancy (i.e. one that applies the skills and knowledge learnt in this module to the real-world). As such, these transferable skills are an integral component of this module.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A60N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M40Applied geomorphology practical & field Skills portfolio (1000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Individual project seminar presentations – to develop oral communication skills and to provide formative feedback on their ongoing project (prior to submission of full report).

Applied geomorphology practical & field skills portfolio assesses student ability to use IT tools (e.g. GIS, geophysical software), to evaluate, analyse and synthesise data (both remotely sensed and field data).

Report assesses the ability of students to present their understanding of a specific applied geomorphological and natural hazard, and to demonstrate their ability to critically evaluate complex arguments, written communication skills and report writing.

Reading Lists