KE5032 - Practice, Research and Fieldwork

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 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?

You will learn how to develop research projects through a series of lectures and guided workshops at the beginning of the semester. You will learn how to identify suitable research questions and the use of appropriate techniques in answering them. You will also receive lectures to prepare you for the fieldtrips, covering logistics, an introduction to the environmenta and the environmental impacts of human activities on Tenerife and the UK, and on qualitative and semi-quantitative methods through the design of a questionnaire survey.

A one-week overseas fieldtrip to Tenerife, or a week-long UK based day-trips are at the heart of this module. It is your choice whether you wish to do overseas or UK fieldwork – both options contain the same field skills and assessments.
On the Tenerife 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.
If you opt for the UK fieldtrip, you will undertake a series of daytrips in the North East. These will involve visiting a number of different sites and exploring concepts such as: habitats, land uses and human activities. 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. Working in a small group you will then complete a mini research project and present your findings in an oral presentation.
After both fieldtrips, you will reflect and start planning and preparing for your final year dissertation. You will focus in on your chosen topic and write up a research proposal for your dissertation project. This will be supported by discussions with a suitable member of staff, who will help you to 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/UK group project. Upon return, as you start finalising your dissertation research plans you will have a specific member of staff who will supervise and support you, including one-to-one meetings with them to discuss your ideas and plans. There will also be workshops 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%) and group project presentation (30%): the workbook contains a series of daily tasks completed on the first four days of the fieldtrip (MLO 1, 2, 4). A final group presentation undertaken in the latter part of the fieldtrip (MLO 1, 2, 3)

Final dissertation project proposal (50%): a final version of your research proposal, taking on board feedback received from an initial formative 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, or local UK equivalent (your choice). You also develop your ability to design research projects with appropriate and effective methods of data collection and analysis. The end product is a research proposal for what you plan to do for your final year dissertation. The research skills you gain 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 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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