KE3007 - Introduction to the study of Earth System Sciences

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about a variety of concepts and debates that have shaped current thinking and research in the Geosciences. Following an exploration of the subject of geology and physical geography, approaches to investigation, and relationships with other relevant subjects, you will focus on a range of more specific topics, including:
• Earth structure and origin.
• Evolution of continents and oceans - plate tectonics.
• Volcanoes: characteristics, behaviour and hazard mitigation.
• Earthquakes and impact mitigation.
• Earth history and geological deep time.

In addition, you will develop your practical skills and abilities in sediment and rock identification, geological map interpretation, and sedimentological analysis. You will also develop a deeper appreciation of the interaction between physical and human aspects of the environment, thereby demonstrating informed concern about the Earth and its people. Since this is a Foundation Year – focussed module, we offer practical training in the use of datasheet software, GIS, as well as visualization and reporting of results. These skills are highly sought after during later studies and are a demanded by potential employers.

On completion of the module, your improved ability to link theory, practice and application will serve to enhance your future employment prospects.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, practical workshops and fieldwork activities. Beyond timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of interactive learning resources accessible on-line via the module eLP site.

Lectures will be used to introduce and develop key concepts and principles across the range of topics covered on the module; in effect they will act as a framework or scaffolding to support your learning. You will further develop and build your knowledge, understanding, and expertise by engaging with on-line, interactive reading lists made available via the module’s electronic learning platform (eLP). You will develop your practical skills through participation in local fieldwork activities and during interactive practical laboratory classes and workshops. You have the opportunity to enhance your teamwork skills when working in a group for the group project (required for assessment 2).

Formative feedback opportunities in seminars and via the on-line resources will consolidate your learning and help to improve your performance in the module assessments. All involved staff members have an open door policy and are happy to give you individual feedback upon request.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

During laboratory and IT classes and whilst on fieldwork, you will engage in practical activities, interacting closely with teaching staff. For example, you will gain practical experience in sediment, rock, and geohazard identification and geological map interpretation with staff providing direct formative feedback in support of your learning and skills development. You will work in groups on a number of sediment samples to learn about the processes that form these types of sediment, building up to an assessed group report. You will be able to discuss your progress and plans with tutors who will provide formative feedback, enabling you to improve your work and achieve your full potential in the assessment process.

Your class materials will be further supported by on-line resources available via the module eLP site. These resources include an interactive reading list with on-line access to a number of key references and aligned with your lecture programme.

As part of the module assessment, you will undertake a single 24-hour open book, short-answer exam, delivered via the module eLP site. You will be able to access your feedback and marks immediately on completion of the exam. Timely feedback will serve to reinforce your learning and improve your confidence during this relatively early part of your academic career.

Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module. Please note that due to other commitments, we might need 24 hours to get back to you.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Identify different geohazards, environmental and sedimentary processes and concepts, rock types etc.
• MLO 2: Discuss potential factors driving weathering, transport, and sedimentation, thereby showing a deepened understanding of the interrelatedness of different aspects of Earth Sciences.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 3: Conduct hands-on environmental research, present the findings in clear visual and written form.

• MLO 4: Demonstrate key field observational and laboratory-based analytical skills related to sediment dynamics.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Work effectively as part of a team during fieldwork and laboratory work towards presenting final report. Teamwork is vital for most employers, and we focus on this aspect in our training.

How will I be assessed?

We will undertake one on-line 24-hour open book, short -answer exam that will contribute 60% towards the overall module assessment.
The exam will be delivered via the module eLP site and will be supported by a practice test in order to familiarise you with the test system and types of questions. You will be able to access your feedback and marks immediately on completion of the exam. Such timely feedback will serve to reinforce your learning and improve your confidence during this relatively early part of your academic career. The open book exam will cover all material taught up to the date of the exam.

Working in small groups, you will undertake a practical project, incorporating field work, laboratory work, data analysis and presentation skills; this work will be submitted as a group report. The report will contribute 40% towards the overall module assessment. During the project you will receive formative support and feedback prior to the final submission. The group report will assess all MLOs.





Module abstract

This module offers an introduction into Earth Sciences and learning resources. The module focuses on key concepts within the Geosciences and the underlying research and evidence underpinning these. Topics explored include: Earth structure, volcanoes and earthquakes, Earth history and deep time, use of geological resources, identification of basic landforms, sediments, and rock, and the processes that form them. You will also develop practical skills of rock and sediment identification, geological map interpretation, laboratory analysis of sediments, field sampling and note-taking, data analysis, data visualization, and data interpretation. Teaching involves lectures to introduce and develop key concepts and interactive practical classes and fieldwork activities. Your learning will be further supported and enhanced through engagement with a range of interactive online resources available via the module eLP site. To evaluate your learning progress and activity, the module assessment includes an online 24 hour, open book, short-answers exam, and a project-based group report. You will receive formative support and guidance throughout the assessment process enabling you to achieve your full potential.

Course info

UCAS Code F920

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time study or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience

Find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy