Postgraduate taught 

Computational Geoscience MSc

GES_Numerical Modelling of Solid Earth Dynamics EARTH5017

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the relationship between deep, planetary interior processes and their surface expression. To do this we will not only discuss the 'how' but also the 'why' of plate motions, subduction, orogeny, and lithospheric deformation including the evolution of topography. Throughout this course we will use numerical models, discussing their applicability and limitations, to integrate geophysical and geological constraints to explore the links between dynamic theory, observations, and interpretations. 


5 weeks. 2 hours of lecture per week and 2 hours or practical per week

Excluded Courses



EARTH50XX - GES_Numerical Foundations of Geodynamics course.


1. Group presentation on a relevant a geophysical topic and an assessment of their associated modelling (30%)

2. Produce an individual report based on group modelling and the associated research on the problem. (70%)

Course Aims

This course applies fundamentals of numerical methods to solid earth processes to understand planetary evolution. We will use open-source, community based numerical models to understand links between the earth's interior and what we observe on the surface. Throughout the course students will be exposed to concepts of model design, benchmarking and scaling. Course technical interests include coding familiarity, exposure to high performance computing (HPC) and skills in post-processing analyses and visualisation.


With the aim to give candidates a full understanding of how and why we apply numerical models as well as the practical skills needed to use and manipulate these models

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and apply the right coding tools and modelling approaches appropriate for the specific tasks 

■ An understanding and appreciation of HPC

■ Apply concepts of continuum mechanics to understand the first order controls on solid Earth processes

■ Design, perform, analyse and interpret numerical experiments in the context of solid Earth processes

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.