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SPG8025 : Energy from the Earth

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Neil Gray
  • Lecturer: Dr Martin Jones, Dr Catherine Gandy
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aim of this module is to enable students studying Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management to understand how the post-industrial revolution energy supply has been met largely by the exploitation of fossil fuel energy from the Earth (coal, oil, gas). The module will address the exploitation of these traditional fuels, the exploitation of unconventional sources of fossil fuels, and the evolving technologies for the clean use of fossil fuels. Lastly, the module will introduce the extraction of renewable energy directly from the Earth through the exploitation of nuclear energy, deep geothermal energy, and through ground source heat pump technology.

Outline Of Syllabus

Key geological concepts
• Geological time
• The origin of the Earth, Earth structure and plate tectonics
• Sedimentary organic matter
• Sedimentation and sedimentary basins within the contact of coal and oil source rock formation • Generation and migration
• Trapping petroleum – the reservoir
Sources, extraction and global consumption of coal
Sources extraction and global consumption of oil
Sources extraction and global consumption of natural gas
The concepts of reserves, resources and peak energy
New frontiers for conventional coal, oil and gas
Challenges and risks (economic; environmental) on these new frontiers
Unconventional fossil fuels:
• Coal bed methane
• Underground coal gasification
• Oil shale
• Oil sand
• Shale gas
• Gas hydrate
Carbon Capture and Storage
Fossil fuel burning and climate change
Greenhouse effect
Greenhouse gases
Energy to CO2 ratios for different fuels
Future consumption scenarios – controls, options and consequences
Example IPCC emissions scenarios
Politics of fossil fuels
Nuclear energy
• Nuclear fission
• Nuclear fusion
Geothermal Energy
• Geothermal Electricity Production
• Geothermal direct use
• Ground source heat pumps

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials171:0017:00PiP Lectures- if necessary these will be broken into smaller sections and accessed non-synchronously
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion19:009:00Exam revision and exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Presenting outcomes of research
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00Guided learning of online content.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities16:006:00Researching a topic on energy from the Earth
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Online guided tutorial discussions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Just prior to the course students will have access to a summary of the topics which this module covers, directions to reading on each topic, copies of lecture notes that will be presented in the module and a specification for the assessed research and presentation exercise. Students can then familiarize themselves with the module curriculum through reading and reflection on these materials. Lectures will be delivered during the formal teaching period which will reinforce students’ independent learning and allow opportunities for areas of uncertainty to be clarified in follow up tutorials. A research exercise taken during the course in groups will allow students to practice research, critical thinking and presentational skills, as well as to further deepen their understanding of key concepts.

PiP sessions will be replaced with non-synchronous online sessions if necessary due to the public health situation. Students should consult their individual timetable for up-to-date delivery information.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A60Written exam PIP or if C-19 circumstances require a 24hr take home exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination1M40Assessed group presentation. 20 minutes.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding developed during the pre-school period, and in the intensive week are assessed by a closed book written examination. Knowledge, understanding and skills are assessed by a group exercise during the intensive week. This involves students being tasked with a research challenge which they undertake over a time-constrained period and at the end of which each group presents its outcomes, and has these outcomes challenged by discussion with academics and fellow students.

Reading Lists