KE5027 - Research and Fieldwork in Physical Geography

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn how to design and conduct physical geography research using the scientific method. This module will prepare you for your dissertation. Specifically, you will learn:

? Key employability skills such as: communication, teamwork, individual working, time-management, critical reading, adaptability, flexibility, synthesis of information and using feedback to improve your work
? How geography has developed as a science historically and theoretically
? Application of the scientific method in Physical Geography
? Evaluating a body of literature to understand a debate and to identify gaps in research
? Developing a research idea from concept to execution
? Advanced fieldwork techniques, risk assessment and ethics

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, practical workshops and fieldwork activities. Lectures are designed (i) to introduce you to key theoretical concepts on the history and philosophy of science, enabling you to understand the context in which science operates; and (ii) to provide the background necessary to help prepare you for your final year Dissertation. Seminars and practical workshops will provide you with advanced research skills to build into your individual research projects, both in the field component of the module and for the planning of your dissertation. The fieldwork activities allow you to synthesise newly acquired academic skills and practice Geographical field techniques in preparation for your dissertation.

The formal scheduled activities will support your individual learning as you progress towards being an independent researcher, although a significant proportion of your time in the second semester will require independent learning as you focus your attention towards designing your dissertation project. On completion of the module, you will have produced a planned research project that is both ethically-sound and health and safety aware.

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 theoretical context in large group settings, but you will develop and apply your Geographical research skills in small group settings. The week-long fieldwork component of the module gives you the opportunity to apply your newly acquired skills to plan and execute a research project and the high staff-student ratio on the field trip gives you the chance to interact with staff one-to-one to support your learning.

Small group learning will help you to hone your Geographical research skills, which you apply in the design of your dissertation research project. In the preparation of your dissertation proposal, you will attend seminars to support your independent research project that introduce you to examples of research ideas and safety and ethical issues. Throughout the dissertation planning process you will work closely with staff to develop and refine your research ideas, normally through detailed one-to-one meetings. Staff members with expertise in a variety of academic subjects will also be available in several drop-in workshops, where you can discuss your ideas in an informal setting.

All learning materials will be made available through eLP, including electronic reading lists. 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:

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
? MLO1: Review and evaluate a range of key issues in geographical research, including their history and scientific context.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
? MLO2: Use and apply a range of geographic field techniques.
? MLO3: Plan and design a well-justified research project.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
? MLO4: Discuss the ethical and moral issues of conducting research, both at home and abroad.
• MLO5: Demonstrate a curiosity for and enthusiasm for aspects of Geographical research.

How will I be assessed?

Field trip group oral presentation (50%): You will complete a series of daily tasks on the field trip for which you are required to keep an annotated notebook. You will receive verbal formative feedback on your notebook, emphasising the importance of keeping good field notes for your assessed project and ahead of your dissertation. You will then undertake a group project at the end of the field trip, which you present as a group oral presentation for summative assessment (MLO 2, 3, 4, 5). You will receive verbal formative feedback on your project throughout the field trip.

Dissertation proposal (50%): A proposal for your final year dissertation project (MLO 1, 3, 4, 5).
You will be given the opportunity to create a draft version to be commented on by your research supervisor. You will also be required to complete a health and safety assessment and ethics evaluation to ensure your research plans are safe and ethically sound (MLO 4). However, this will not be formally assessed.





Module abstract

This module provides you with the skills and experience that underpin your final year dissertation and takes you on a week long residential field course. You will explore key research-informed topics unique to the region. Previously these have included ecosystems, microclimates, geomorphology, stream hydrology, pollution and peatland dynamics. This field course will give you the opportunity to put into practice the concepts presented in lectures. With a strong focus on skills and small group learning, this whole module will build your employability by developing skills in teamwork, conducting independent research, communication and time management. It will also prepare you for carrying out your dissertation at the end of the module.

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 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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