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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Natural Hazards (EASC08011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe restlessness of our planet is a consequence of the dynamic processes that operate over time both within it, on its surface and in its atmosphere. The dynamic character of the Earth System is not only responsible for our own existence, but also for inevitable natural hazards. This course will introduce the Earth System as a basis for characterising and understanding natural hazards, their causes and consequences. The major types of natural hazard will be described, analysed and assessed in terms of their underlying causes as well as their socio-economic and environmental impacts. This course capitalises on natural synergies between subsurface, surface and human dimensions of the Earth System. Hazards to be considered will include earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanic hazards (local, regional and global scale), meteorological hazards (hurricanes, tornados, dust storms, El Nino, flooding and coastal erosion), topographic hazards such as landslides, and hazards arising from climate change. The evidence for past natural catastrophes and hazards, recorded in natural archives, will be described along with remote sensing methods for documenting current hazards and hazard risk. The principles and application of risk assessment and analysis will be considered with respect to case studies. The Course comprises 20 lectures supplemented by a series of laboratory classes, together with a directed programme of reading. The Course is assessed by degree examination together with a course project and class exercises.
Course description Weeks 1-2: Introduction (Dr. Eliza Calder)
L1-L4: Our Restless Earth and Natural Hazards.
The basic character and features of the Earth as a site for natural hazards. Plate tectonics, sites of earthquakes, volcanism and tectonic activity versus areas of little activity. Definition, types of natural hazard, broad features and characterisation in terms of causes and effects.
Risk and Risk Assessment in relation to Natural Hazards. Risk of occurrence versus risk associated with impact on humanity and environment.

Weeks 3-5: Meteorological Hazards (Dr. Ruth Doherty)
L5-L10: Meteorological Hazards.
Introduction: the main climate-/weather-related hazards in context of all natural hazards. Natural climate variability effects on the distribution and magnitudes of these hazards. How might (anthropogenic) climate change affect these hazards? Tropical cyclones and their prediction. Mid- latitudes storms and weather warnings over the UK. Floods and flood warnings. Heatwaves and droughts.

Weeks 6-7: Volcanic Hazard and Risk and Hazards associated with Slope Instabilities (Dr. Eliza Calder)
L11-13: Volcanism, its physical and chemical phenomenology; types of volcanoes and eruptions; Products of eruptions (lava, pyroclasts, gas); hazards, proximal and distal in accordance with volcano and eruption types; regional and global atmospheric effects.

L14. Hazard associated with surface topography and slope instability.
Landslips and slope collapse; links with earthquakes, volcanism and weather.

Weeks 8-10 Earthquake Hazards and Tsunamis (Dr. Andrew Bell)
L15-L20. Earthquake Hazards and tsunamis
Earthquake phenomenology: properties of seismic waves
The earthquake source: working out earthquake size and focal mechanism
Earthquake hazard: how do we quantify the hazard for planning and protection?

Week 11
Revision (Dr. Eliza Calder and Dr. Andrew Bell)
L21 - Overview and questions (ESC).
L22. - Overview and questions (AB).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This is an introductory level 8 course. It is aimed at students with at least some science background.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  130
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment details
Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

The Course comprises 20 one-hour lectures that are supplemented by a series of 10 one-hour practicals (tutorial and feedback) together with four hand-in exercises, a course project and directed programme of reading.

The Course is assessed by:
(a) a two-hour degree examination (50%)
(b) 4 hand-in exercises (30%)
(c) Course project (20%) on one of 3 prescribed topics.

Degree examinations
There is a 2-hour Degree examination in December.
- The total degree marks are made up of the Degree Exam in December (50%), course project (20%) and from practical exercises (30%).
- The overall pass mark is 40% but in order to pass the course your marks in the exam and the coursework must each be at least 40%. A mark of »50% in one component will not compensate for a mark of «30% in the other. It will not be possible for you to resit the coursework components and so your existing coursework marks will be used for resit purposes. This means that you will not be able to pass the resit exam if your aggregate coursework mark is «40% (i.e. you will have to resit the whole course).
- Example exam papers are available to help with your revision.
- The School is empowered to withdraw your right to sit degree examinations if you have persistently failed to carry out the work of the course without good reason. Persistent failure to attend lectures, failure to attend practical classes or to hand in reports on time will be taken as evidence of inadequate performance unless an acceptable reason is given: normally a medical certificate is required in case of illness.

Assessment deadlines
Each class exercise will be completed over two practical sessions and will be handed in on completion. The first of these will be for formative feedback, the subsequent 4 exercises will be part of the course assessment. The exercises will be handed in, in hard copy, to the Teaching Office in the Grant Institute, every second Monday by 2pm.
Feedback The initial class exercise, during the first practical session, will be a formative feedback assignment. Further feedback can be obtained from the staff immediately at the end of the lecture, and/or staff and teaching assistants throughout the practical sessions.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Natural Hazards2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students will be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the main natural hazards and therefore be capable of recognising, defining and describing the variety and diversity of natural hazards that affect the Earth's surface environments. Students will be capable of explaining the relationships between geohazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanism, slope collapse), active tectonic processes expressed on the Earth's surface and underlying processes in the Earth. They will also be able to understand and explain the relationships between meteorological hazards and the underlying physical processes operating in the atmosphere. Using routine techniques in natural hazard analysis (natural and historical records and remote sensing of present-day images) students will develop an appreciation of the incidence and significance of impacts as hazards both at present and in the past. An appreciation of the basic principles of risk will be developed and then applied to determine the risk associated with specific types of natural hazard, in order to appreciate the complexity of dealing with these issues at the professional level. Each student will submit a course project addressing key issues in Natural Hazards.
Reading List
Keller, EA and Blodgett RH., Natural Hazards - Earth¿s Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes, Pearson Prentice Hall (2nd edition, September 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Timetable

Semester: Semester 1
Lectures: Tuesdays 12:10 - 1.00pm Teviot LT - Doorway 5

Fridays 11:10am - 12.00pm Teviot Lecture Theatre - Doorway 5
Week1, week 3 - week 10

Fridays 11:10am - 12.00pm - Lecture Theatre G.03
Week 2 only

Practical class: Thursdays 10-12pm Room 2.02 Drummond or Fri 9-11am Room 2.02 Drummond.
Tutorial: n/a
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Eliza Calder
Tel: (0131 6)50 4910
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Muir
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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