KE4003 - Geography Fieldwork

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What will I learn on this module?

You will learn that fieldwork is an essential and characteristic aspect of geography and you will learn how to conduct physical geography fieldwork or a combination of physical and human and geography fieldwork, depending on your programme of study. Fieldwork is a form of experiential learning which contributes to your curiosity and enquiry about human and/or physical environments. You will carry this out by developing discerning observation and measurement of physical aspects of your environment recognising the importance of scale. You will understand the evolution and significance of the distinctiveness of places and environments including glaciated landscapes and you will be made aware of different approaches to their interpretation. In the BA and BSc programmes you will gain a parallel understanding of the role of spatial linkages in social and physical processes. You will be given opportunities to practise methods and strategies of field research in human and/or physical geography such as observing the impacts of geomorphological processes and conducting human geography enquiries. You will be encouraged to take a critical view of the challenges and opportunities of field-based research and will learn how to use and apply appropriate field based equipment and technologies. For example, understanding how the ‘natural’ environment is anything but natural and is in fact a consequence of human interation with the environment, is an example of such critical thinking.You will take responsibility for your learning and reflection upon that learning and you will recognise the moral, ethical and safety issues involved in all aspects of geographical enquiry. In this module you will learn how to work in groups and you will gain problem solving and presentation skills.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, practical workshops and fieldwork activities. Lectures provide the background for the sites visited together with a broader context for the study. Workshops will allow you to develop familiarity with technology if necessary before you enter the field. The fieldwork activities allow you to practice a number of geographical field techniques in human and/or physical geography, you will create your own sampling plans to produce primary data, and you will reflect on the effectiveness sof the data collection process through written assessment. You will develop skills of observation and measurement and will work in small groups with tutors in the field to develop an enquiry based approach to your learning. You will be able to learn independently from the resources which will be made available on the module eLP site. This module requires you to undertake residential fieldwork in Edinburgh or Northumberland for two days in the first semester and for four days in Scotland or the Lake District in the second semester. Group projects during fieldwork will require you to consider and apply both morale and ethical choices during interviews with the public. Individual projects will require you to understand health and safety considerations when conducting landscape assessments in remote areas.
On completion of the module, your improved ability to link theory, practice and application will serve to enhance your future employment prospects.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

A large proportion of the teaching on this module is supported by staff in small groups and workshops. Lectures provide the context for the fieldtrips in large group settings, but you will also develop and apply your Geographical research skills in small group settings. Your class materials will be further supported by on-line resources available via the module eLP site. These resources include an interactive reading list with on-line access to a number of key articles and aligned with your lecture programme. The week-long fieldwork component of the module gives you the opportunity to apply your newly acquired skills to plan and execute three projects if you are taking the BA and BSc programmes, a human geography project, a physical geography project and a project which combines human and physical geography. If you are taking the BSc Physical Geography Programme you will plan and execute three physical geography projects. The high staff-student ratio on the field trip gives you the chance to interact with staff one-to-one to support your learning.

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:
• MLO1: Recognise and explain the reciprocal nature of relationships between physical and human aspects of environments and landscapes
• MLO2: Employ and evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of fieldwork methods

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO3: Demonstrate field techniques such as observation and report writing
• MLO4: Take responsibility for your own learning and reflect on your learning

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO5: Demonstrate an awareness of health and safety, moral and ethical dimensions in the design and conduct of geographical field investigations

How will I be assessed?

The first fieldtrip will provide you with verbal formative feedback on your capacity to evidence physical and human aspects of environments and landscapes.

For the fieldtrip at the end of the module three projects will be undertaken in the field (two group projects and one individual project). If you are taking the BA or BSc Programmes you will carry out a group project drawing on human geography field techniques, a group project drawing on physical geography field techniques and an individual project showing how human and physical geography field techniques can be used together. If you are taking the BSc Physical Geography programme three physical geography projects will be undertaken. A series of daily tasks for these three projects will be completed on the field trip. Only two of the projects will be assessed summatively, one group project and one individual project. The first group project will be assessed formatively. You will receive verbal formative feedback on all your projects (MLO4, MLO5) throughout the field trip and summative feedback on your written work (MLO1, MLO2, MLO3). The work from the second fieldtrip constitutes 100% of the module mark, consisting of two assignments each worth 50% of the module mark.

Group work is an essential element of this module and the summative assessment strategy is designed to take account of this with a balance between group based and individual assignments. This form of assessment is designed to encourage you to view learning and assessment as a process rather than a one-off, end product.

Summative feedback will be provided in writing for all the coursework. In addition, generic module based feedback will be circulated to you and will be provided in the context of assessment criteria provided to at the start of the module





Module abstract

This module will provide you with the opportunity to study fieldwork in a variety of locations and it will give you the experience of both human and physical geography skills if you are taking the BA programme or the BSc programme. If you are taking the BSc Physical Geography programme you will be given the experience of physical geography skills only. You will be given the opportunity to use technology to develop your learning. The module provides a valuable opportunity for you to develop key transferrable employability skills such as team working, reflexivity, interpersonal skills and project management together with research planning, data collection and analysis. You will be given opportunities to practise methods and strategies of field research in human and physical geography if you are taking the BA or BSc programme such as observing the impacts of geomorphological processes and conducting human geography enquiries. If you are taking the BSc Physical Geography programme you will be given the opportunity to practise methods and strategies of field research in physical geography only.

Course info

UCAS Code F840

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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