Study Abroad and Exchanges



GEO3143 : Community Volunteering: A Geography Perspective

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This is a 'service learning' placement module which requires the student to undertake 70 hours of volunteering. This course aims to give students an opportunity to develop critical understanding of the theories, practices and politics of community-based research and the ethics and governance of community organising and voluntary social and/or environmental action.

Working in small groups, in collaboration with a community-based partner, the placements are intended to give undergraduates a chance to experience research-led and participatory learning and to develop key skills and capabilities of cooperation, team-working, effective communication and personal responsibility.

Alongside the experience of group-work the course aims to give students the chance to reflect independently on first-hand experience of working in a voluntary sector, non-profit or social enterprise setting.

To develop students’ skills in developing, undertaking and reporting on a collaborative research activity.

To give students an opportunity to develop graduate employability skills and gain an insight into Geography-related graduate careers.

This module differs from the NCL career development modules in that these placements are with geography-specific local community organisation, to conduct a defined piece of (team-based) research co-designed with/ for the direct benefit of- the partner organisation. This way the module provides students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills that are immediately relevant to a geography graduate career.

Outline Of Syllabus

Semester 1 and 2 (exact split flexible to suit the needs of the partner organisation)
6 x 2 hour lecture and workshop

1: Introduction to the module; group-work briefing;community development and community organising
2: Collaborative research methods, practice expectations and influence (guest speaker: social enterprise and cooperatives)
3: Co-designing defined research with through group-work (guest speaker: volunteer organisations)
4: Frameworks for developing your proposal. Ethics and safety. Assessment.
5. Identifying different types of VCSE skills, practices and organization.

6 x 2 hour small-group teaching to reflect on and practice ‘soft’ transferable skills specific to group-work, e.g.
Working with consensus decision-making
Cooperative governance
Fund-raising and media issues for non-profit organizations
Critical engagement with volunteering and localism

2 x 2 hour small-group teaching with Careers Service/ Go Volunteer, e.g.
Identifying relevant transferable skills: how to write a covering letter
How to write winning applications
Personal and professional presentation techniques
Interview techniques and professional interaction with placement professionals

12 x 1 hour placement supervision/ consultation

Placement – minimum 70 hours in work place/ community setting

Study sessions – students must attend regular project surgeries with the module leader

Oral presentations, group project de-briefing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00Module leader (and guest speakers)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Careers Service/ Go Volunteer sessions
Guided Independent StudySkills practice170:0070:00Work placement (ML liaison)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching62:0012:00Module Leader
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision11:001:00ML group supervision (fortnightly)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study151:0051:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
GEO2138Community Volunteering: A Geography Perspective
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods relate to the different aspects of this module. The lectures will be mainly for the provision of key information about aspects of the module, notably how the placement works, expectations of collaboration and partnership working and background to the voluntary sector. The study sessions provide small group learning opportunities focusing on key employability skills development, and also preparing for their placements. The drop-in sessions provide an opportunity for students to see the ML to discuss any aspect of the module throughout the academic year.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Work Placement Plan - To be completed and assessed before placement begins
Report2M201500 word Collaborative Research Report - Report defining the research activity and the stages and process of collaboration
Prof skill assessmnt2M20Oral Presentation - Focusing on fieldwork and partnership, identifying and developing graduate skills with the placement
Essay2M502,000 word essay assessing the linkages between the placement and themes in academic geography
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The four modes of assessment for this module provide the opportunity to assess the students in a variety of ways. The community-based placement plan ensures that the placement is well-organised and fits the requirements of the module. It assesses the student’s ability to explain how the placement will work and what they will gain from it. The supervisor’s reports provide them with the opportunity to grade the student’s work within the placement environment, during and at the end of the placement. The oral presentation provides the students with an opportunity to develop their skill set by verbally presenting an assessment of the skills their placement has enabled them to develop, and also assesses their ability to answer questions posed by the marker. This will be similar to the type of competency questions many may face in a ‘real life’ interview situation. The course essay assesses the ability of the student to make connections between their placement and debates and research foci within academic geography.

Reading Lists