Module Catalogue 2019/20

GEO2137 : Key Methods for Physical Geographers

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Louise Callard
  • Lecturer: Professor Darrel Maddy, Dr Rachel Carr, Professor Andrew Russell, Dr Andrew Henderson, Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, Professor Steve Juggins, Dr Nick Cutler
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
GEO1020Introduction to Physical Geography
Pre Requisite Comment

N/A

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

N/A

Aims

The Key Methods for Physical Geographers modules core aims are to:

1.       Introduce students to the diverse range of research methods and the resultant data used within the discipline of physical geography.
2.       Explore both conceptual and practical issues in research methodology and the use of research techniques.
3.       Draw connections between learning about tools and techniques for research on this module, and the production of research findings as explored through the range of physical geography modules offered across the Geography curriculum.
4.       Make explicit connection between research methods in physical geography and the development of graduate-level transferable skills.
5.       Give students the confidence and skills to proceed with original data collection and analysis for dissertations at Stage 3.
6.       Give students the confidence and skills to integrate primary data with secondary data for dissertations at Stage 3.

Outline Of Syllabus

In each semester, the module will be delivered by means of lectures and practical sessions which will include ‘mini-lectures’ throughout to provide context and instruction, without undue overlap with the specialism focused stage 2 module contents. Practicals will vary between laboratory, computer, or desk based activities (5 per semester).

A full day non-residential field trip in Semester 1 is designed to introduce students to the diverse range of research methods used across physical geography. Northumberland offers a range of environments (inter alia coast, rivers, wetlands, mountains) but the underlying principle is that the trip locations offered will offer students a similar learning experience and opportunity to gather primary field data for analysis and comparison with available secondary datasets which they will have been exposed to prior to the trip, or will work with post-trip.

The theme across both semesters is ‘Characterizing the Earth’s surface’. Four distinct aspects will be emphasized:

o       Measuring the past
o       Monitoring the present
o       Predicting the future
o       Visualizing landscapes


Through field and practical sessions, students will be introduced to a number of the following:

o       Coring and dating techniques
o       Geochronologies
o       Tectonic geomorphology
o       Biological proxies
o       Quantitative data analyses
o       Geomorphological mapping
o       Basic physical and numerical modelling
o       GIS and remote sensing
o       A suite of geophysical techniques (remote sensing, simple surveying, Ground-penetrating radar, GNSS).
o       Cartographic skills and producing quality maps/figures/tables

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module students will have the knowledge and a firm grasp of the main methodological strategies used in the analysis and interpretation of physical geographical information, and show a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for a range of methodologies including: field, laboratory and process-modelling skills.

1.       Physical geography is intrinsically a field and/or laboratory based subject using a diverse range of methods. From this module you will be more familiar with, and have practised, a range of methods and techniques of research, and have developed a clear insight into the challenges and opportunities of physical geography research.
2.       You will have gained practice in interpreting and analysing information through the deployment of skills specific to the physical geographer, including the use of appropriate information and communication technologies.
3.       You will have been introduced to the principles of research design, methods of analysing and presenting primary and secondary numeric and geospatial data, including retrieval and manipulation of large data sets, inferential and relational statistics, and geospatial technologies such as digital cartography, GIS and remote sensing.
4.       You will better understand the dynamics and rates of change at different temporal and spatial scales
5.       You will have gained experience in evaluating the processes shaping the landscapes of the past, present and future, as an appreciation of temporal change is central to an understanding of the physical world, its development, interaction, feedbacks and interdependences.
6.       You will be aware of the significance of spatial scale on physical processes and their interactions and better comprehend how such processes operate across local, regional and global scales.
7.       You will be better aware of how the scale of study (both spatial and temporal) can impact upon the conclusions that may be drawn from any particular study.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The 2014 QAA Benchmark statements for Geography specify that, to attain ‘excellence’ in subject-specific skills in physical geography, students should be able to:

1.       Critically appraise and reflect on use of the diversity of techniques and approaches involved in collecting physical geographical information.

2.       Critically appraise and reflect on the application of quantitative and qualitative approaches for analysis of geographical data, including excellent and sophisticated application of a range of these approaches.

3.       Demonstrate a mastery of techniques and approaches involved in analysing geographical information (for example techniques for the analysis of spatial information, GIS, laboratory techniques, qualitative and quantitative techniques) and very good judgement of their effectiveness.

4.       Critically evaluate and reflect on the appropriate application of the diversity of specialised physical geographical techniques and approaches.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture71:007:001 x Intro; 1 x fieldwork prep, 5 x specialist content
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1145:00145:00Portfolio completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical142:0028:00Double up sessions required for some
Guided Independent StudyProject work62:0012:00TA available, some double up, room booked
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:001 x one day trip S1 (3 staff @8 hr each with TAs/techs)
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1.       An introductory lecture, field trips (with pre-trip lecture) and mini-lectures within 2 hour practical classes will introduce students to the diverse range of research methods used across physical geography.
2.       A focus on practical experience of methods and techniques rather than lecture based content is required to build transferable skills and usage of methodologies. Sub-discipline specialist applications of the methods and their context are delivered via other Stage 2 modules.
3.       Practical classes, field trips and self-led sessions will explore tools and techniques for physical geography research.
4.       Production of research findings in assessed portfolios will enable explicit connection between key methods in physical geography and the development of Stage 3 research questions towards dissertations in particular.
5.       Teaching methods (amplified through Stage 2 residential fieldtrip modules) will give students confidence to proceed with primary and secondary data collection and analysis for dissertations at Stage 3.
6.       The independent (with TA available, but not TA led) practical sessions are to enable students to work independently to continue with the skills learnt the previous week, but with some support for technical issues.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M20800 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Practical/lab report1M301200 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Practical/lab report2M10400 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Practical/lab report2M10400 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Practical/lab report2M10400 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Practical/lab report2M20800 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The practical sessions will be assessed in each Semester through 6 individual submissions worth 10%, 20% or 30% depending on the complexity of the portfolios each. This will allow:

o       Evaluation of student engagement within the full spectrum of practical classes as well as an appraisal of the students’ engagement with the field and practical components of the course.

o       Evaluation of students’ ability to make, synthesize and interpret independent observations and measurements.

o       Evaluation of student’s ability to integrate, synthesize and interpret justified combinations of primary and secondary data

o       Evaluation of Intended Knowledge Outcomes 4-7 (above).

Timetable

Past Exam Papers

General Notes

N/A

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.