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The University of Southampton

SOES6011 Sea level rise and coastal management

Module Overview

The rate of global mean sea-level rise is accelerating and will increasingly threaten low-lying coastal areas in many ways, including raising extreme sea-levels and increasing the frequency of coastal flooding. This course will give you an understanding of why mean and extreme sea-levels are rising with climate change. The main consequences of these changes in coastal area (particular to delta’s, small islands and cities) will be discussed. Finally, the range of different coastal management strategies for dealing with these changes will be described. This course builds on some of the coastal process material covered in SOES2024.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Define the four main components of sea level, namely, mean sea level, tides, storm surges and waves.
  • Describe the main factors that are causing mean-sea level to rise;
  • Discuss how mean sea-level rise, along with changes in tides and storminess, increases the frequency of extreme sea level events and coastal flooding;
  • Describe extreme value analysis approaches for estimating the likelihood of occurrence of extreme sea level events;
  • Identify and analyse the multiple drivers of coastal flooding using the conceptual Source−Pathway−Receptor−Consequence (SPRC) model;
  • Evaluate the challenges faced by delta regions, small islands and cities from mean sea-level rise.
  • Discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of different coastal management strategies for dealing with mean sea-level rise and increases in the frequency of extreme sea-level events;
  • Analyse low frequency (monthly) sea level records from tide gauges and satellite altimetry in order to evaluate year-to-year mean sea-level variability and long-term trends; and
  • Analyse high frequency (hourly) sea level records to estimate the likelihood of the occurrence of extreme sea level events and how these might change with mean sea-level rise.


In weeks 1 and 2 you to will have lectures in the morning, introducing you to concepts of mean and extreme sea level, and coastal management. In the afternoon you will have computer practical’s giving you hands on experience of writing Matlab scrips to analysis sea level records from tide gauges and satellite altimetry. In week 3 you will work in groups to use knowledge gained in weeks 1 and 2 to assess changes in sea level in different parts of the world. At the end of Week 3 you will present your findings as a group and produce an individual written report. The course also features a field trip to the Thames Barrier in London.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This will be an intensive short course of 3 weeks duration. Formal Lectures: 21 x one hour duration. Practical Work: 15 hours of computer practical. Field trip to see the Thames Barrier. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study50
Total study time95



MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation 50%
Report  (2500 words) 50%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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