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GEO2127 : Doing Physical Geography Research: Theory and Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nick Cutler
  • Lecturer: Professor Andrew Russell, Professor Darrel Maddy
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To further develop the skills acquired in GEO1096: Geographical Study Skills, to focus specifically on preparing for the dissertation (GEO3099).

To complement and support GEO2137: Key Methods for Physical Geographers.

To explore the discipline of physical geography, including its academic history and scientific framework.

To enable students to develop a physical geography dissertation research proposal.

To explore the links between key skills (those required for a degree) and transferable skills (those required for subsequent careers).

Outline Of Syllabus

•       The scientific method and its application in physical geography research
•       Research approaches in physical geography, including the collection and use of primary and secondary data.
•       Research/experimental design and methods, including developing research questions
•       Presenting physical geography data, including the preparation of diagrams and figures
•       Tackling the Dissertation Research Plan (DRP): literature reviews; developing links with broader theory; structuring a dissertation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00In person lecture. Can be delivered in pre-recorded format if required.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1154:00154:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Pre-recorded lectures (includes secondary data case studies)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading72:0014:00Seminar / 1-to-1 meeting preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching16:006:00In person seminars. Can be delivered virtually if required.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice22:004:00Computer practicals Can be delivered as structured guided learning (independent study) if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00In person. Can be delivered virtually if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision10:300:301-to-1 meetings with DRP mentor. Can be virtual if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk12:002:00‘Dissertation Conference’; can be moved online if required.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars, practicals and tutorials. The semester 1 lectures, related seminars and practicals enable students to develop a working knowledge of key ideas relevant to undertaking geographical research. Pre-recorded lectures develop case studies of secondary data collection and analysis. The semester 2 lectures, seminars and tutorials introduce students to the research process, including the development of their own dissertation research proposals. This mix of teaching enables all components of the theory and practice of independent research to be introduced. It also allows students the time and space to develop their own research proposals, building on content from this and other Stage 2 modules.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401,750 word essay based on Semester 1 lectures
Research proposal2M602,400 word Dissertation Research Proposal
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first assessment tests students’ knowledge of key geographical theories and concepts. This is a necessary set of knowledge to enable the Stage 3 Dissertation to be undertaken successfully. The second assessment – the Dissertation Research Proposal - assesses students’ knowledge, understanding and ability to plan the research process (essential for the Stage 3 dissertation).

Reading Lists