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Module

GEO2137 : Key Methods for Physical Geographers

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Mrs Helene Gadsden
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Seb Pitman
  • Lecturer: Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, Dr Rachel Carr, Dr Nick Cutler, Professor Darrel Maddy, Professor Andrew Russell
  • 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

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 fieldtrip, laboratory, computer, or desk based activities.

•       Introduction to GEO2137
•       Introduction to GIS and remote sensing
•       Mapping 3D and spatial analysis in GIS software packages
•       Introduction to Matlab and its scripting language
•       Data manipulation and plotting in Matlab
•       Sampling strategy, variability and experimental design

•       Introduction to graphical and statistical methods in physical geography
•       Introduction to using R Studio
•       Statistical analysis including analysing multivariate data
•       Advance graphics in R
•       Fieldtrip to Northumberland coast
•       Lab session


The computer practicals will introduce the student to important concepts, cartographic and analytical skills whilst also providing the student experience using a range of sophisticated software packages e.g. QGIS, ArcGIS, Matlab and R Studio.
The field trip is designed to introduce students to the diverse range of research methods used across physical geography. This fieldtrip will be based on the Northumberland coastline, which offers a range of environments (inter alia coast, rivers, wetlands, mountains). The sites and material collected during the fieldtrip will feed directly into the laboratory work where this material will be sampled and analysed using a range of techniques listed below. If the fieldtrip and laboratory work cannot be run in person than a virtual alternative will be used. The underlying principle is that these virtual teaching environments offer students a similar learning experience and opportunity to understand the methods of primary field data collection for analysis with available secondary datasets which they will be exposed to during the virtual sessions.
The theme across both semesters is ‘Characterizing the Earth’s surface’. Four distinct aspects will be emphasized:
Measuring the past
Monitoring the present
Predicting the future
Visualizing landscapes


Through virtual field and practical sessions, students will be introduced to a number of the following methods:
Coring
Geochronologies
Biological proxies
Microscopy
Quantitative data analyses
Geomorphological mapping
Basic physical and numerical modelling
GIS and remote sensing
A suite of geophysical techniques (remote sensing, simple surveying, GPS)
Sedimentological techniques (field and laboratory methods)
Cartographic skills and producing quality maps/figures/tables

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00PiP lecture material
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture10:300:30PiP lecture material
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1148:00148:00Portfolio completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical82:0016:00In person computer practical
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00In person computer practical
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00In person laboratory practicals (if possible)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical21:002:00In person laboratory practicals (if possible)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities110:3010:30Asynchronous self-guided learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00In person fieldtrip (if possible)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00In person drop-in/surgery session for computer practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time21:002:00Synchronous online drop-in session for computer practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time11:001:00Online synchronous lecture
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. An introductory lecture and mini-lectures 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. The asynchronous guided learning sessions will combine short videos/mini pre-recorded lectures and detailed instruction for each practical component. Sub-discipline specialist applications of the methods and their context are delivered via other Stage 2 modules.
3. Practical classes (online and in-person), fieldtrip and self-led sessions will explore tools and techniques for physical geography research.
4. Synchronous online and in-person (when possible) surgery sessions will be used for real-time demonstrations and to answer students questions related to each component of the module.
5. 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. The teaching methods will give students the confidence to proceed with primary and secondary data collection and analysis for dissertations at Stage 3.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M301200 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Portfolio1M20800 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Portfolio2M10400 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Portfolio2M20800 word equivalent practical/lab portfolio report. Word count reflects non-textual materials also being assessed (figures/tables).
Portfolio2M20800 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 5 individual submissions worth 10%, 20% or 30% depending on the complexity of each portfolio. This will allow:

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

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

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

Reading Lists

Timetable