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Unit information: Hydrological Modelling in 2015/16

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Unit name Hydrological Modelling
Unit code GEOGM0200
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jim Freer
Open unit status Not open

Having followed the B syllabus in Years 2 and 3.


The B Syllabus units in Year 4

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit will be considering in detail a series of themes relating to the development and use of hydrological models. Specifically, the objectives are to introduce students to the various recent hydrological models, to provide the techniques and skills necessary for the development of new models and to make them aware of the difficulties and uncertainties, as well as the philosophical issues, associated with applying or developing hydrological models. The unit aims to cover all the fundamental aspects relating to numerical modelling with a focus on hydrological processes. State- of-the-art models and recent concepts will be discussed and the students will be encouraged to develop their own ideas and models. In order to facilitate understanding and bring everything together, two three-hour modelling practicals will be carried out.

The aims of this Unit are:

  • To introduce students to the various approaches in hydrological modelling (conceptually and numerically)
  • To introduce students to the historical developments in hydrological modelling and the more recent hydrological models
  • To provide the techniques and skills necessary for the development of new models
  • To make students aware of the difficulties and uncertainties associated with applying or developing hydrological models including calibration and uncertainty analysis
  • To introduce students to the current philosophical issues and debates surrounding hydrological modelling and environmental modelling in general.

To be introduced to ways we model the future including climate change and landuse change.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  • Use of hydrological models for prediction and simulation and the concepts of calibration
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of different equations and their applicability in hydrological models
  • Appreciate the complexity of hydrological systems and the different ways we can model complex hydrological systems at different scales
  • Know how to conduct and interpret an uncertainty evaluation of models
  • Debate about current philosophical issues in environmental modelling
  • Understand some approaches to modelling change
  • Understand the concepts of hydrological similarity and regionalisation

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • written and verbal communication,
  • numeracy and problem solving,
  • analytical skills,
  • computer modelling skills.

Teaching details

14 x 1 hour sessions (lectures) plus 3 x 3 hour associated computer based practicals

Assessment Details

Percentage of the unit that is coursework: 100%

Consisting of:

Rainfall-runoff modelling and uncertainty analysis practical report 40%

24 hours

Essay on rainfall-runoff model simulation and evaluation 60%

36 hours

Reading and References

  1. Anderson, M.G. and Bates, P.D. (eds) (2001) ‘Model Validation: Perspectives in Hydrological Science’. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
  2. Beven, K.J. (2001) ‘Rainfall-Runoff Modelling: The Primer’. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
  3. Singh, V.P. (ed.) (1995) ‘Computer Models of Watershed Hydrology’. Water Resources Publications, Colorado.
  4. Beven, K.J. (2009) ‘Environmental Modelling: An uncertain future?’ Routledge, Oxon.