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 in North-East England, 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, example topics include 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 an 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 report.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, IT practical workshops, fieldwork and self-directed study. You will be briefed on the major coastal environments, gradients, habitats and drivers of change over a number of short lectures and IT practicals, 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 in the form of a short conference presentation. 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. You will distil these findings down into a report written to a professional standard and tailored to the needs of a conservation authority.

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, and 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%): An individual presentation of a research project conducted on the British coast. 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. (MLOs 1-5)

Assessment 2 (50%): An individual report synthesising the results of a Tropical coastal research project. Analyses of secondary data undertaken within the practical sessions will be presented in a report format aimed at a conservation authority. Feedback will be provided electronically. (MLOs 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

The world’s coastlines extend to over 600,000 kilometres in length. They play host to some of the most dynamic habitats on the planet, where furious competition between species, populations and individuals is the norm. With over half of the world’s population living within 200km of the sea, coasts are also of key socioeconomic importance as the launchpad of the ‘blue economy’: for fishing, shipbuilding, offshore renewables, and coastal tourism. Coasts therefore represent an ideal setting to investigate physical, biological, and ecological processes and, most interestingly, how these processes interact with human activities.

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 from Great Britain, 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 coastlines of North-East England. 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.

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, oral and written communication, fieldwork, and the application of coastal research methods. Your work will be of a professional standard.

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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