Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Fieldwork in Physical Geography

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study unit provides an introduction to fieldwork skills for first year undergraduate geography students. Field skills are fundamental to both physical geography and this study unit will provide a basic set of skills that lay the foundations for the more advanced research methods training.

Students will be involved in a range of field techniques (such as mapping and surveying, aerial photograph interpretation, description and recording and sampling strategies) in order to investigate aspects of physical landscape (such as valley systems, coasts, slope processes, the impact of and management of human activity on the natural environment).

This fieldwork course includes four field sessions related to different aspects of physical geography. Students are assigned field projects related to physical aspects of the Maltese environment and are required to work in groups.

Study-unit Aims:

The aims of the study-unit are to:
1. give the student advanced first-hand experience of physical aspects within an unfamiliar dynamic environment.
2. provide a broader context for process-based, applied physical geography techniques and concepts.
2. involve students in enquiry-based work and apply theory by collecting and analysing data, together with fieldwork discussion.
3. allow the student to develop, more fully, the links between literature-based knowledge and field-based research
4. develop a realistic and critical perspective on the practicalities and limitations of field research within a challenging environment.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Identify and describe a range of processes operating in natural environments through fieldwork sessions in selected sites.
2. analyze patterns of and evidence for recent environmental change through the use of maps, aerial photos and other cartographic tools.
3. improve his/her ability to describe, interpret and record the landscape and landforms using appropriate descriptive and technical terminology.
4. report and discuss issues related to field research, field equipment, sampling strategies and data collection during the field sessions.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. demonstrate transferable skills such as group work, and leadership skills.
2. demonstrate the application of basic field equipment, its correct usage, care and maintenance.
3. demonstrate the correct application of a range of field techniques in appropriate local contexts
4. develop report writing skills through the submission of a field report (working in a team).

Reading List:

Kent, M. Gilbertson D.O., and Hunt, C.O. (1997) ‘Fieldwork in geography teaching: a critical review’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 21 (3), 313 – 332
Holmes, D. and Farbrother, D. 2000. A-Z Advancing Geography: Fieldwork, Geographical Association, Sheffield.
Lenon, B.J. and Cleves, P.G. 2001. Fieldwork Techniques and Projects in Geography, 2nd revised edition, Collins Educational, Glasgow.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
2 Reports SEM2 No 100%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.