KE5009 - Environmental Research and Fieldwork: Overseas

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What will I learn on this module?

This module has three main elements. First, you will extend your knowledge and deepen your understanding of a range of geographical and environmental concepts and issues, gaining real-world “in-the-field” experience. There is a focus on the complexity and interconnectedness of issues and their management. Second, you will gain experience of a variety of research approaches used in studying the environment, ranging from questionnaire design to contaminated land sampling to protected area monitoring. Third, you will develop your ability to design research projects and devise fieldwork and data analysis methods. This will prepare you for carrying out your dissertation in final year. The module also develops your skills in designing research projects, choosing and using a wide variety of geography and environment fieldwork techniques and data analysis and interpretation.

How will I learn on this module?

A one week overseas fieldtrip to Tenerife is at the heart of this module. There are a small number of lectures and seminars in semester 1 that prepare you for the fieldtrip, covering logistics, an introduction to Tenerife’s environment and the environmental impacts of human activities on the island, and designing a questionnaire survey.
On the fieldtrip, the first two days introduce you to the island, visiting a range of sites (e.g. different habitats, land uses, human activities). Then you will gain hands-on experience of a variety of research approaches and fieldwork survey techniques, with guided fieldwork activities and completing a fieldtrip workbook to summarise and reflect on the issues and skills involved. For the last two days of the trip, you will work in a small group to design and undertake a research project, collecting fieldwork data, analysing the data and giving an oral presentation of the results.
After the fieldtrip, during semester 2, you will start planning and preparing for your final year dissertation. You will choose a topic and write up a research proposal for your dissertation project. A series of lectures and seminars, and discussion with a suitable member of staff will help you develop your ideas and write the proposal. The proposal should give background on your chosen topic, specify an aim and research questions, outline the data collection and analysis methods, and assess ethical and health and safety considerations.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

On the fieldtrip you will spend several days with lecturers, with plenty of opportunity for discussing matters related to the module, as well as environmental topics in general. Staff will be on hand as you design and carry out your Tenerife group project. During semester 2 you will have a specific member of staff who will supervise you as you prepare your dissertation proposal, and you will have one-to-one meetings with them to discuss your ideas and plans. There are will also be workshops and seminars where you can brainstorm research ideas with other students and staff.

Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Assess the broad range of methodological approaches to geographical and environmental research, including fieldwork and data analysis.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 2: Use a range of survey techniques widely used within geography and environmental science.
• MLO 3: Design a well-justified research project.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 4: Show awareness of the ethical and moral issues of conducting research, both at home and abroad.
• MLO 5: Exhibit an enthusiastic curiosity for a particular study topic.

How will I be assessed?

Field workbook (20%): a series of daily tasks completed on the first four days of the fieldtrip.(MLO 1, 2, 4)

Group project presentation (30%): a presentation on your group project undertaken in the latter part of the fieldtrip. (MLO 1, 2, 3)

Initial dissertation project proposal (20%): a first version of a proposal for what you plan to do as your final year dissertation project.(MLO 3, 4, 5)

Final dissertation project proposal (30%): a final version of the proposal, taking on board feedback received from the initial proposal and discussion with your research supervisor. (MLO 3, 4, 5)

Health and safety assessment and ethics evaluation (pass/fail): a compulsory pass/fail element to ensure that your dissertation plans are safe and ethically sound. (MLO 4)





Module abstract

This module is the foundation for your final year dissertation project. You get experience of a wide range of approaches to research, mainly on a one week trip to Tenerife. You also develop your ability to design an interesting research project with appropriate and effective methods of data collection and analysis. The end product is a proposal for what you plan to do for your final year dissertation. The research skills in project design, fieldwork techniques and data analysis that you develop in this module will be of great value for a variety of geography and environmental science related careers.

Course info

UCAS Code F751

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

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