KE6032 - Tropical and Coastal Research

What will I learn on this module?

With a strong research focus, the tropical and coastal research module will cover the cutting-edge developments in coastal science. From how to identify seagrass using satellites, to predicting the contents of a rockpool without even looking at it, you will understand the processes that make coastal ecosystems tick.

You will design and undertake two research projects – one using field data that you will collect locally in North Tyneside, and another using secondary data from the Tropics that you will analyse during IT practical sessions. In both cases, you will learn that the same overarching concepts, in coastal science and research design, apply equally in these contrasting coastal settings.
Within a group, you will be given a valuable opportunity to plan and execute scientific experiments of your own in the field. This will be a method of your choosing, on a topic of your choice, for example, microplastics, rockpools, longshore drift, or even footfall at tourist hotspots along the coast. To design your project and discuss your findings, you will engage with cutting-edge literature from the field of coastal science. You will present this research project in a group oral presentation.
You will apply these same concepts in coastal science and research design to undertake your individual research project in a tropical coastal environment. To undertake this project, you will engage with secondary data in order to design and undertake your enquiry. You will undertake this work in a series of IT sessions, and present the project in the form of a professional conference poster.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, IT practical workshops, fieldwork and self-directed study. Lectures will ‘set the scene’ in providing you with knowledge of the key concepts in coastal science and research design. You will be briefed on the major coastal environments, gradients, habitats and drivers of change over these short lectures, which are designed to ensure you have the grounding for the more practical aspects of the module. You will then apply and build substantially upon this knowledge through gaining ‘hands-on’ experience in both fieldwork and IT practical sessions. In addition to timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of interactive learning resources accessible online via the module e-learning portal site. The reading list will allow you to extend this learning and pursue those topics of most interest to you.
Effective teamworking and peer support will be essential as you work collaboratively over a number of field visits to discover something truly novel about the coastal environment. You will be given time to analyse the results as a group, and you will then present these results back to the class in a mini ‘coasts conference’. This process will reflect the collaborative nature of the modern workplace, and the challenges of undertaking scientific research in the field. In undertaking your tropical research project, you will apply these skills and concepts to work on an individual basis during IT practical sessions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by the provision of formal lectures and practicals that will be led by the teaching team. You will engage in small group activities during fieldwork and seminars, which will enable you to benefit from peer interaction and support. During fieldwork sessions, the module tutors will also be on hand to answer questions and support you as required. During lab or IT practicals, staff will also be circulating to answer queries when they arise. In these sessions, you will also interact closely with teaching staff who will provide formative support and feedback on activities leading up to the assessment tasks.
This is an ambitious module, and as such you will be asked to engage extensively with the relevant learning materials beyond simply covering the lecture content. In this regard, reading lists for books and papers will be made available via the library, including in electronic format wherever possible. You will also be supported by the provision of online resources via the module e-learning portal (Blackboard). These resources include lecture and workshop information, an interactive reading list with on-line access to guided reading. Staff teaching on the module have an ‘open door’ approach during normal working hours and are responsive to communication via e-mail to support your learning.

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: Critically engage with debates in the field of coastal science, in the context of both UK and tropical coastal environments.
• MLO 2: Design and execute coastal research projects, both in UK and tropical coastal environments.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 3: Develop an ability to work with coastal data at a professional level, including to undertake primary data collection, and secondary data interrogation.
• MLO 4: Develop an ability to use professional software to analyse and present your data (e.g. ArcGIS, SPSS).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Work effectively individually and as part of a team towards the production of professional work, demonstrating written and data presentation skills.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment 1 (50%): A twenty-minute group presentation of the UK coastal research project, including 15-minutes of slides and 5 minutes for questions from the audience. Students will present the data that they have collected in the field, and associated statistical analyses. The presentation will follow the same format as a conference talk, covering the following sections: introduction / rationale, research questions, study site, methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Feedback will be provided electronically. (MLO 1-5)

Assessment 2 (50%): An individual research poster displaying the Tropical coastal research project. Posters will display analyses of secondary data as undertaken within the practical sessions. Poster structure will (as above) follow that of a conference presentation, including the following sections: introduction / rationale, research questions, study site, methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Feedback will be provided electronically, using Grademark / elp software. (MLO 1-5)

Whilst your summative grades will be provided after final submission, you will receive informal formative feedback as you progress through the module, providing an indicator on your progress.





Module abstract

There are over 600,000 kilometres of coastline around the world and half of the world’s population live within 200 km of the coast. Coasts are of key socioeconomic importance as they are the launchpad of the ‘blue economy’: fishing, shipbuilding, offshore renewables and coastal tourism. Our coasts are also of key ecological importance as they host some of the most dynamic habitats on the planet, and are often characterised by furious competition between species, populations and individuals. Coasts therefore represent an ideal setting to investigate physical and biological processes and, most interestingly, how these processes interact.

The Tropical and Coastal Research module will provide you with a strong grounding in the scientific research of coastal environments. Using examples from the Tropics and the UK, you will work with real datasets to undertake research for yourself. You will learn how to rapidly formulate, design, pilot and execute scientific experiments over several visits to field sites on the North Tyneside coast. You will also apply these skills and concepts to analyse data from tropical coastal environments. This is a hugely valuable opportunity to put the knowledge you have acquired on your degree into practice, answering research questions of your choosing, and represents a fitting culmination to your time at Northumbria.
The work you undertake on this module will be of a professional standard. You will engage with cutting-edge research to design novel and original research projects. You will develop your skills in group and individual work, statistical analysis, geospatial analysis, data presentation, professional poster design, oral and written communication, fieldwork, and the application of coastal research methods.

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

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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