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GEO2037 : Ireland Field Course

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Andy Large
  • Co-Module Leader: Professor Andrew Henderson, Dr Christine Batchelor
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 35 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


1) Through a stimulating, inclusive and enjoyable trip, give you first-hand experience of active geomorphological processes within a range of dynamic environments in County Donegal, Ireland.

2) Build on your experience of your other Stage 2 Physical Geography modules, especially Geo2137, by developing your skills in the observation, recording and interpretation of landscape-scale geomorphological processes, and to extend and enhance your understanding of land-forming processes and landscape evolution.

3) Provide a broader context for other physical geography modules available to you and to look forward in skills development towards your Stage 3 dissertation.

4) To allow you to develop geographical skills in field-based research. The module will help you understand better the advantages of a variety of field observation and data-gathering approaches (i.e., insights into why you might use one technique over another), and develop an appreciation of the opportunities, practicalities, and challenges of fieldwork.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will consist of a 8-day field visit to the beautiful landscapes of northwest Ireland. Two days of this involve coach travel on the way to and back from Donegal. The fieldtrip is intended to be one of the most enjoyable modules of your time as a student studying Geography and is designed to build your confidence in, and maximise your enjoyment of, fieldwork with an eye to skills needed for Stage 3 Dissertations. We deliberately design the trip to dovetail with your knowledge and skills gained in Geo2137: Key Methods in Physical Geography, and to compliment the more individual research question generation you are doing in Geo2127: Doing Physical Geography Research: Theory and Practice.

Staff-led field days introduce, develop and illustrate the geological and environmental history of Co. Donegal and the key geomorphological concepts relevant to the field course. Field work provides opportunities for student led design and planning of geomorphological research as teams of 4/5 students, and to collect primary data. Training in fieldwork techniques and assistance in project design will be available throughout from staff.

We expect you to take the lead in your fieldwork groups in deciding what methods and techniques to use in investigating land-forming processes and landscape dynamics of southwest Co. Donegal.

5 days (including travel days to and from Donegal) will be staff-led, introducing aspects of geomorphological processes within the study area. 4 days will be devoted to student-designed fieldwork, with your module assessment based on two short projects designed largely on the trip itself by you and carried out in your student groups. Data you collect on the fieldtrip will form the basis of individual project write-ups (80%, 3000 words maximum) and a group oral presentation (20%, assessed by a short, 12-minute presentation on the trip itself).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork88:0064:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1130:00130:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The fieldtrip report (80%) provides an opportunity for you to (1) synthesise, interpret, and critically evaluate primary data and to compare your findings with available secondary datasets and a wide range of literature on geomorphological processes and environmental change for a variety of landscape types in the study area. The written report also requires you to (2) demonstrate the capacity to communicate concisely and effectively both by text and illustrative material, and to report your fieldwork findings in a standard report-writing format.

Group oral presentations (20%) provide the opportunity to present the results of your group's short-duration fieldwork during the trip itself. You will be expected to summarise your field data and reflect on the execution of a short project on a dynamic coastal landscape. The oral presentation will enable you to practice teamwork, organisational and a variety of communication skills.

Students are provided with an extensive and bespoke set of literature before the Semester 2 pre-trip sessions to (a) aid your understanding of the field trip destination(s), and (b) assist in your project planning and in later interpretation of your findings.

Pre-departure for Co. Donegal, all students will complete a short formative i.e., unassessed GIS mapping exercise designed to familiarise them with the region. The mapping exercise will provide additional skills in GIS and is intended that you generate georeferenced base maps of the field area in Donegal. It will assist both fieldwork in Ireland and pre-trip project design by students in small groups. The base map can also be used, if you deem it beneficial to you, in your group oral presentation and/or the individual field report.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152M20Group presentation. To be scheduled by School.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M80Individual field report (3000 words) based on data collected during student-designed project
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Coursework provides an opportunity to (i) synthesize, interpret and critically evaluate a wide range of literature and primary and secondary data concerning geomorphological processes and environmental change in the study area and (ii) demonstrate the capacity to communicate concisely and effectively in writing and through graphical presentations and to report scientific research in an appropriate manner.

2. Field presentations provide an opportunity, within the context of group exercises, to present the initial results of fieldwork, the geomorphological context of the projects and to reflect on the developments and execution of small- scale research projects conducted in unfamiliar surroundings. The group presentation is delivered and assessed on the fieldtrip itself.

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