MT11CNU-Introduction to Meteorology

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Thorwald Stein


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces key concepts in atmospheric science, and skills in interpreting meteorological data, and provides an introduction to a wide range of topics in meteorology.

The Module lead at NUIST is Xiao Zhang


This module aims to provide the student with a basic understanding of atmospheric structure and composition and the observational network which is used to monitor atmospheric variables. It aims also to provide knowledge and understanding of global mean seasonal patterns of atmospheric variables and their inter-relationships as well as the basic nature of selected weather disturbances and climate phenomena. Additionally it provides an introduction to the forecasting of atmospheric phenomena. Through the practicals, this module aims to introduce and develop skills in the analysis of meteorological observations. With the individual essay assignment, this module aims to introduce and develop transferable skills in communication (writing, presentation, and referencing) and research (critical analysis).

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, the student should be able to:

  • Describe and explain the basic structure and composition of the atmosphere, and the nature and significance of observational networks, including surface and satellite data;

  • Analyse surface and upper air observations to identify fronts, depressions and anticyclones;

  • Explain the basic characteristics of air masses, selected types of weather distur bance and the methods used to predict weather;

  • Identify the main cloud types and understand the processes that produce them;

  • Use a combination of atmospheric data fields to identify the evolution of certain weather systems;

  • Describe the underlying physical mechanisms of selected weather phenomena such as El Niño, hurricanes, the polar vortex, and boundary layer turbulence;

  • Describe the basic components of and assumptions made in numerical models for weather and climate prediction;

  • Describe which models are used for forecasts at different lead times and for different domain sizes, from local to regional to global;

  • Demonstrate how selected weather phenomena may be affected by global climate change.

Additional outcomes:

The application of physical laws and concepts to the atmosphere has a direct link to the parallel course on Weather and Climate Fundamentals.

The individual essay assignment will equip the student with academic skills to prepare for written assignments and independent study beyond UK FHEQ Level 4 (equivalent to year 1 of bachelor’s degree study).

Outline content:

  • Atmospheric composition and structure; Observing the atmosphere; Atmosphere/surface interactions; Global seasonally averaged patterns;

  • Air masses, weather systems and forecasting; Clouds and precipitation;

  • El Nino and its teleconnections, and the MJO;

  • Introductions to climate change, boundary layer meteorology, tropica l meteorology and numerical weather prediction;

  • Synoptic observations and isobaric charts, frontal analysis, weather systems analysis; Enquiry based learning activities;

  • The use of online resources.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Through a combination of lectures and practicals combined with occasional problem-solving sessions (within lecture periods).  In the latter part of the module, enquiry-based learning activities within lecture periods, and group and self-study to prepare for writing the assessed essay.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 76
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study: 104
Total hours by term 200 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 35
Practical skills assessment 40
Set exercise 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

A selection of topics will be provided for the written assignment and students will initially study a single topic in groups and present their topic as a group. Following formative assessment of these group presentations, students will continue researching the same topic, but will submit individual essays for the written assignment.

The set of exercises include a cloud quiz (worth 5%) and two quizzes composed of single choice questions and short answer questions (worth 10% each).

The practical skill assessments include:

1) identifying fronts based on surface observations and satellite images (worth 10%);

2) MATLAB modeling exercise that simulating global warming scenario (worth 15%)

3) identifying cloud base and top in radiosonde data (worth 15%).

Formative assessment methods:

In the second half of the semester, a formative essay (optional) is set for students to practice their scientific writing and familiarise themselves with an essay assignment. A second formative assignment is set for students to present their topic in groups for the individual essay (written assignment).

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Resit examination.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 27 April 2020


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