The University of Southampton

GEOG2038 Environmental Modelling for Catchment Management

Module Overview

This module builds on GEOG2039 (Concepts and Methods for Environmental Management) by using the process understanding and conceptual model that have been developed therein to setup and parameterise a GIS based catchment hydrological model to explore ‘what-if’ scenarios of climate and land use change in Poole Harbour. The model will be used to establish how various catchment outputs such as water, sediment and nutrient discharge might change under various scenarios of environmental change on temporal scales pertinent to catchment management plans. Students will use the modelling tool in conjunction with the latest downscaled climate predictions to assess the extent to which the catchment management team needs to incorporate mitigation against change in future plans. The two modules together present a holistic overview of how to develop process understanding within a catchment historical context, use these to develop a conceptual model and subsequently setup a numerical model and use this tool to explore scenarios of change at management appropriate timescales and beyond.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of the module is to broadly enable the cohort to become competent in the setup, parameterisation and execution of an ‘off-the-shelf’ hydrological model. Additionally, a number of skills which are essential for GEOG3018, the dissertation, are also developed.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the key components of a model and the trade-offs that must be addressed when running them.
  • Be able to demonstrate how a model can be setup and run to replicate some observed processes and behaviour (model calibration and validation).
  • Be capable of defining an experimental approach that allows the model to be used to explore scenarios of change in a meaningful and statistically robust way.
  • Have refined literature review techniques in preparation for the dissertation.
  • Be proficient in quantitatively and graphically comparing model outputs to best analyse the response and present the results.


The module will combine theory and hands-on use of GIS and models through the use of a combination of lectures and computer practicals. Specific theoretical content covered includes: • What are models and what is modelling • Spatial and temporal scaling in models • Exploring scenarios of change: experimental design • Hydrological models – where does the water go? • Catchment hydrological management techniques • Climate and land-use change in Poole Harbour Students will also undertake the following practical elements: • Set-up (parameterise) and run an off-the-shelf GIS based catchment hydrological model • Use downscaled climate projections to explore scenarios of change • Assess outputs quantitatively and using high quality plots and figures • Establish the relative magnitude of impacts resulting from catchment management mitigation techniques.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will consist of lecture based theory supported by computer based practical classes. The material will be delivered so that a preceding lecture covers the material relevant to the next practical, ensuring that students are practising what they are hearing in the lecture room. Personal Academic Tutors will support this module through delivery of 3 x supervision sessions in the first half of the course. These sessions will be used specifically to assist students with undertaking assessment 1 (see below) a 200 word literature review. Supervisors will offer 2 x guidance sessions and 1 x feedback session. Subsequently, dissertation supervisors will take over the supervisory role and students will be supported through the completion of their results and discussion whilst simultaneously discussing their own dissertation plans. PGR demonstrators will offer practical assistance and advice during the practical classes and additional small group meetings with module lead academics will be incorporated within these sessions as required to support group presentations.

Independent Study118
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (2000 words) 45%
Experiential and skills building exercises  () 10%
Final Report  (2000 words) 45%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3500 words) 100%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: GEOG2010 AND GEOG2039

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