Module Catalogue 2024/25

GEO3165 : Coastal Environments

GEO3165 : Coastal Environments

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Seb Pitman
  • Lecturer: Dr Christopher Hackney, Professor Andy Large
  • 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 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Code Title
GEO2137Key Methods for Physical Geographers
Pre Requisite Comment

GEO2137 Key Methods for Physical Geographers.

Any student without any of the above module must contact the module leader BEFORE signing up to the module to discuss suitability of prior modules taken to ensure fit.


Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



The coastal zone is one of the most dynamic and rapidly evolving environments that we can observe today, and it is at risk from climate related changes such as increased storms and sea level rise. In this module we provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic interactions shaping coastal environments. Through a multidisciplinary approach, students will explore the key processes influencing coastal zones, including sedimentation, erosion, hydrodynamics, and the impact of climate change. The two key aims are:

(i) To introduce students to the geomorphological processes controlling coastal evolution
(ii) To develop an understanding of the societal impacts of this change and various management approaches to dealing with this change

Through a combination of lectures, fieldwork, and practical exercises, students will gain hands-on experience and develop the necessary skills to contribute meaningfully to the field of coastal science and management.

Outline Of Syllabus

Part 1 (Coastal Processes) considers the geomorphological processes that shape the coastline. This will cover content such as wave generation, sediment transport, coastal morphological change, and in the accompanying computer practicals we will explore how numerical modelling gives us insight into what changes we might see at the coast.

Part 2 (Deltas) will consider both the physical processes but also explore the complexities involved in managing low elevation land. Deltas are integral to global food supplies, fish stocks, water supply, industry, trade and culture. Deltas are under threat from climate change, rising sea levels, industrial farming techniques and pollutants. Drawing on experience from the large Living Deltas project, this part of the course will explore what needs to be done to prevent delta systems from collapsing.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

1) Understand key physical processes that shape the coastline as we see it, including sediment transport, wave dynamics, shoreline evolution, and the impact of geological and climatic factors.

2) Be able to evaluate the importance of multidisciplinary perspectives for coastal management

3) Will have a critical understanding of the socioeconomic and physical impacts of a changing coastline for communities

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

1) Numerically model complex coastal environments

2) Plan and deliver briefs designed to translate science to policy makers

3) Communicate key challenges associated with managing low elevation coastal environments in the face of a changing climate

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture131:0013:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00Computer practicals linked to numerical modelling assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Group seminars to introduce and work on policy brief
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Fieldtrip tied to policy brief assessment
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study197:0097:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will use a mixture of lectures, practicals, seminars and field trip in this module. Lectures provide the background content that scaffolds discussion in the wider course. Computer practicals are used as a means of getting hands on with industry standard software so that you can gain key employability skills such as numerical modelling. The fieldtrip and seminars are structured such that you will see first hand and subsequently discuss some of the challenges facing coastal communities, stakeholders, and policy makers when it comes to managing the coastal zone.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M50Modelling Report
Case study2M50Policy Brief
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Both of the assessments are geared towards employability/consultancy skills. Numerical modelling is a key method in which we can seek to better understand and predict a dynamic system, and so students will write a report based on their own model outputs to ensure they have the requisite skills to model complex environments. Converting this scientific output to something useful for policy makers is a key employability skill, and therefore the second assessment centred on a policy brief assesses students against this skill, and ensures they engage meaningfully not just with the physical processes but also translate this effectively into useful management approaches.


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.