Module Catalogue 2020/21

GEO3152 : Applied Fluvial Geomorphology

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Andrew Russell
  • Lecturer: Dr Matthew Perks
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
GEO1020Introduction to Physical Geography
GEO2137Key Methods for Physical Geographers
Pre Requisite Comment

Students on this module will benefit from introductory level knowledge of fluvial processes and forms gained whilst taking Geo1020. Fieldwork and GIS skills training undertaken as part of the Geo2137 module are essential for the fieldwork and data analysis planned for this module.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Rationale: Rivers are a major component of the hydrological cycle and are important agents of erosion, sediment transport and long-term landscape evolution. Over shorter timescales, rivers constitute important natural resources and powerful natural hazards. Understanding of how rivers behave is essential to ensure the provision of water resources, and mitigate against flood hazards. This module builds upon first and second year Physical Geography modules to provide detailed insight into fluvial geomorphological processes and forms.

Aim: This module aims to provide you with a detailed understanding of how rivers behave and how fluvial geomorphological processes are managed across a range of environments.

In order to fulfil the above aim you will:

(1) be introduced to a range of fluvial processes;
(2) understand fluvial process-form relationships in a range of environments;
(3) use fieldwork to gain firsthand understanding of fluvial process-form relationships;
(4) be introduced to a range of cutting-edge techniques and data sources for characterizing fluvial processes and landscapes;
(5) understand how knowledge of flood process can be used to reduce flood risk.

Outline Of Syllabus

Theme one: Floods
•       Introduction to Applied Fluvial Geomorphology
•       Water flow in river channels
•       Flood processes and impacts
•       Flash flood monitoring technologies
•       Case studies of flood hazards and effective management: (1) UK flood hazards; (2) Glacier outburst floods

Theme two: Form and process
•       Sediment transport
•       Erosional processes
•       Depositional processes
•       Depositional forms
•       Proglacial fluvial processes and forms

Theme three: Long-term change
•       River channel change
•       Fluvial archives of environmental change
•       Palaeohydrology

•       Pre-fieldwork acquisition and analysis of secondary data sets
•       Processing of primary data and integration with secondary data
•       Data processing for field project (x2)

Fieldwork will be a key element in the delivery of this module as it will provide an opportunity to test some of the concepts and ideas that we introduce in the lecture series. In small groups, you will collect observations and primary data which will be used in the generation of your field report. Fieldwork will be split into two one-day non-residential fieldtrips to the River Coquet (Northumberland), which will include the following: introduction to field site, installation of monitoring/sampling equipment, channel topographic survey, mapping of fluvial geomorphology and sedimentary structures.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

•       Appreciation of the role of rivers within the global hydrological cycle.
•       Understanding of fluvial processes and the relationship between fluvial process and form.
•       Knowledge of the controls on river channel change over a range of timescales.
•       Knowledge of societal importance of fluvial geomorphology.
•       Demonstrate an understanding of the processes that cause flood hazards and what their societal impact can be.
•       Understanding of how fluvial process knowledge can be applied to the management of rivers.
•       Knowledge of appropriate data sets and data acquisition techniques for fluvial geomorphology.
•       Knowledge of how fluvial deposits can provide an archive of past environmental change.

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       Reading – independent research
•       Field note-taking and organisation
•       Field measurement using a variety of equipment and techniques such as (dGPS, ADCP, E-M Current Meters)
•       Analysis of primary and secondary data sets using ArcMap/QGIS, statistical software packages (R/MATLAB
•       Written presentation skills
•       Team working in the field
•       Report writing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1160:00160:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00Will require repeating if module numbers exceed 25-30
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide an overview of the principals of fluvial geomorphology and its application within a range of environments.

Fieldwork will provide the students with first–hand experience of data acquisition in a dynamic wandering gravel bed river.

Practicals will be used to introduce students to a suite of primary and secondary data sets as well as the techniques and methodologies to detect and measure fluvial geomorphological change.

Report writing skills 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.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M50Applied Fluvial Geomorphology Field Report (2500 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module is assessed by unseen exam and written field report. The exam will test the students’ ability to learn understand and evaluate fluvial processes and form theory under exam conditions. This will test their knowledge of the theoretical material covered in the module. The field report will enable them to apply this knowledge to real world data they have collected and analysed during the fieldwork portion of the module. The field report will also enable the development of transferable skills that may be useful for those students seeking a career in environmental consultancy, as it closely mirrors the type of reports routinely written in these roles.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 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 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.