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Unit information: Floods, Flows and Erosion in River Basins in 2021/22

Unit name Floods, Flows and Erosion in River Basins
Unit code GEOG20002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Bates
Open unit status Not open

GEOG10003 Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography and GEOG10002 Geographical History, Thought and Practices



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit comprises two elements: ‘Hillslope Hydrology’ and ‘Flood Hazards’ . It will provide a comprehensive introduction to hydrological and erosional processes on hillslopes, and river hydraulic processes relevant to flooding and flood inundation.

Hillslope processes govern the way water is routed to river channels within basins and form the fundamental starting point in the hydrological analysis of a basin. Without understanding processes that govern flow quantities, pathways and timings through slopes we have limited ability to determine flooding processes, biogeochemical transport, and responses of drainage basins to climatic changes. Therefore, this module will focus on hillslope hydrological processes and their impact on basin-scale hydrology, as well as on erosional processes.

Flooding is the world's most frequent natural disaster and is expected to cost the world economy $1Tn by 2050. In the UK alone we spend over £1Bn per annum on flood prevention, and geographers play key roles in managing flood risk within central and local government, the insurance sector, the Environment Agency and in specialist consultancies. This module provides an introduction to flood risk science, and in particular focuses on how flood risk is estimated. The module will give an overview of recent fundamental scientific developments that are transforming our ability to manage floods.


  • To understand hillslope processes affecting the generation of surface and subsurface water flows and their impact on erosion and basin-wide hydrological response
  • To provide an introduction to flood risk, how it is calculated and how it is managed
  • To introduce the basic physical concepts and equations which represent these processes
  • To introduce come of the concepts and methods involved in developing and applying physically-based models of these processes

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Understand the basic hydrological processes at work on hillslopes and in catchments
  2. Learn and understand the hydrologic and geomorphic theory on hillslopes
  3. Understand the relevant driving forces and equations of motion in hillslope hydrology, slope stability and sediment transport / erosion
  4. Learn the governing principles of flow hydraulics in rivers and the processes behind flooding
  5. Understand the basic models used to simulate the above processes and the concepts of model selection, parameterization, calibration and verification

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace
  • practicals; students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

  • One practical report (20%) [assesses ILOs 1-5]
  • One end-of-unit take-home assessment (80%) [assesses ILOs 1-5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOG20002).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.