UCL Summer School


Urban Geoscience: the London Perspective

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session Two
Module leader
Dr. Sudeshna Basu, Professor A.P. Jones
Standard entry requirements
Assessment method
Exam (20%), Coursework (30%), Essay (30%)
Download syllabus (PDF)

Module overview

Urban geoscience encompasses the geological aspects of the built environment in the context of construction materials and, the underlying bedrock that affects the stability of built structures. In London, the relevance of these aspects are evident.

For example, landslips can disrupt rail services and, non-uniform expansion and shrinkage of underlying clay sub-soil results in cracks in buildings. Water resource is another important consideration in the growing urban context. The nature of groundwater contaminants have changed with time with reports of caffeine and nicotine (British Geological Survey, 2007). Fluctuation of groundwater level depends on flow, recharge and discharge and must be closely monitored. Growing urbanisation also implies that the cities are increasingly becoming repositories of valuable materials that should be targets for recovery by urban mining. These critical aspects of urban geology are evident for London and will be explored, but also relevant to other expanding cities in the world.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be able to identify and know common rock types and their properties used for construction in London
  • Have knowledge of bedrock and soil cover in relation to suitability for construction sites
  • Be able to read and understand basic information from geological maps available in the public domain (British Geological Survey)
  • Understand underlying causes of fluctuating groundwater levels in terms of aquifer rock properties, rainfall and usage.
  • Be able to apply concepts of urban geoscience and scope of urban mining for London, to other cities.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • Exam (20%)
  • 1,000-word coursework (50%)
  • 1,000-word essay (30%)

Module leader

Dr. Sudeshna Basu is a senior research associate in the department of earth sciences and a teaching fellow in the department of chemical engineering. Her research experiences in geology/geochemistry complements her strength as a teacher in related fields. Her teaching responsibilities involve students from multidisciplinary backgrounds. As a part of her teaching she covers aspects of urban geology involving a trip to British library with her students. She is also experienced in leading students for field trips in UK and abroad. Dr. Basu is a fellow of Higher Education Academy, UK.
Prof. A.P. Jones from the department of earth sciences has more than twenty five years of research and teaching experiences. He co-delivers the ‘Earth Resources and Sustainability’ module in the department, some aspects of which will be relevant to the proposed module.

Application information

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