Module Catalogue 2024/25

GEO2229 : River Catchment Dynamics

GEO2229 : River Catchment Dynamics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Matthew Perks
  • Lecturer: Dr Mark Kincey, Professor Andrew Russell, Dr Christopher Hackney
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Code Title
GEO1020Introduction to Physical Geography
Pre Requisite Comment

Students need to be familiar with key concepts introduced in GEO1020 (Introduction to Physical Geography).


Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



Rationale: Water is naturally transferred and circulated between stores in the earth’s atmosphere, across the earth’s surface, within the pores of soil, and through geological structures. This circulation of water is a global phenomenon known as the hydrological cycle, and is key in driving not just the movement of water, but also dissolved constituents, pollutants, and solid material from the earth’s surface to terminating environments (e.g. seas and lakes). The movement of these materials affect the climate, availability of water resources, aquatic pollution, and propensity for flood related hazards. These are all critical issues for sustainably managing natural resources and mitigating against water-related hazards in the 21st Century.

Aims: This module aims to: (1) introduce you to catchment science, the movement of water and associated material across the earth’s surface, and to demonstrate how this drives river systems; (2) provide an understanding of how human activity can modify catchment processes and river response (e.g. land-use change, dam construction, flood management); and (3) provide experience of techniques used to measure and model catchment processes, and in the analysis of catchment fluxes.

This module provides students with the theoretical background relating to river catchment processes. The module is designed to: (a) explore catchment processes in significantly greater depth than material introduced in GEO1020 (Introduction to Physical Geography); (b) provide essential theoretical background for students undertaking dissertation research on hydrological processes, complementing the GEO2127 dissertation planning module; (c) provide an essential knowledge-base for students wishing to undertake Stage 3 modules relating to hydrology or fluvial geomorphology.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Syllabus will cover a wide range of catchment processes including:

Part 1: Fundamentals of the catchment system
- The hydrological cycle
- Precipitation and evaporation
- Infiltration and soil moisture
- Groundwater
- Runoff mechanisms
- Water conveyance, connectivity, and attenuation
- Regional hydrological case studies: Arid and meltwater environments
- Deltaic catchments

Part 2: Catchment change
- River water quality and pollution
- Fine sediment transfer
- Catchment management and restoration
- Managing extremes: Nature-based and engineering solutions

Practical activities
- 1 x single-day field trip
- Simulating runoff processes
- Simulating drainage basin dynamics
- Delta response to change
- River pollutants
- Data analysis

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. Knowledge of key physical processes occurring across a river catchment.
2. Knowledge of the importance of catchments and rivers within the global climate system and as a conveyor of water and eroded materials.
3. Knowledge of interactions between humans and catchment systems and how this can affect the sustainability of natural resources, the health of aquatic species, and generate or mitigate hazards.
4. Awareness of contested knowledge in the field of catchment science.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Independence in research.
2. Analysis of secondary datasets using mapping and statistical software packages (e.g. GIS, MATLAB).
3. Effective communication and report writing skills.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials30:301:30Pre-recorded lecture materials (introduction to practical’s)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00PIP Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00Completion of 2 x 2000-word essays/reports
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00Computer practical sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1123:30123:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Non-residential, one-day fieldtrip
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce key concepts and theories across a range of catchment process themes along with case studies which are used to illustrate their occurrence.

The first series of computer practical classes will allow students to gain experience of investigating the processes occurring across river catchments. These are designed to facilitate higher-order cognitive behaviour such as assessing and evaluating interactions between multiple variables. Each practical session shares a theme with a lecture and these pairings enable students to delve deeper into the concepts and theories introduced. Prior to each of these practical sessions, a 30-minute lecture is provided to introduce the task and the learning objectives.

The second series of computer practical classes will allow students to gain experience of analysing secondary datasets. These data have been collected to enable detection of changes in catchment processes over time. Completion of these practical sessions will provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills in mapping (GIS) and statistical analysis.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words
Report1M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The synoptic essay 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.

The report assesses the ability of students to analyse and interpret field-data. The report assesses their ability to relate field results to literature and develop an informed and critical argument. The field report assesses formal written communication skills and report writing style.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.