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Study information

Study Skills for Physical Geographers

Module titleStudy Skills for Physical Geographers
Module codeGEO1311
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Tom Roland (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Through a combination of small group teaching and scheduled group and independent study, Study Skills for Physical Geographers provides a foundation for all Single Honours BSc Geographers in transitioning effectively to University-level study.

This module allows you to refine existing academic skills and learn new approaches to researching and evaluating contemporary issues in geography. In so doing, you will learn how to communicate academic arguments through oral presentations, academic essays and reports. In addition to learning about essential academic skills such as referencing, reading, effective note-taking, presenting, and data analysis, you will also be supported and encouraged to research and discuss contemporary debates in physical geography through group and individual independent study. The majority of this module is delivered through small group tutorials allowing you to really engage in the subject and to discuss your learning in a more informal and relaxed learning environment. You will lead peer-to-peer discussion sessions and reading groups to support learning on other first year Geography modules and, through additional workshops and lectures, you will gain a better understanding of the resources available and skills you require to excel in your Geography degree at the University of Exeter.

You are required to take at least 30 credits Level 4 (Stage 1) Geography with this module. Flexible combined honours students should note that topics discussed will be based around compulsory BSc Geography modules.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Enable a smooth transition into Higher Education by enabling you to work effectively as a group and individual researcher;
  • Encourage you to engage critically with contemporary debates within Geography;
  • Facilitate an understanding of effective approaches to oral and written communication at University;
  • Raise your awareness of the role you must play in the learning process,
  • Direct your acquisition of a range of generic skills in physical geography which will be beneficial throughout your time at University and later in employment.

This is to be achieved primarily through an integrated series of directed tutorials as a means of developing academic skills, and through peer-to-peer study group sessions to support learning in other Level 4 (Stage 1) Geography modules. The module will therefore provide a foundation for all Single Honours BSc Geographers and a good preparation for modules in physical geography in Levels 5 and 6 (Stages 2 and 3). This module will contribute to the development of an understanding of how core skills contribute and relate to employability potential.

Through active participation in the module, the aim is that you will further develop academic and professional skills, including the ability to:

  • analyse, interpret and evaluate datasets,
  • manage structure (task management, goal setting, developing strategies),
  • manage your time effectively,
  • develop team work and group management skills,
  • develop awareness of the application of coding for data analysis,
  • develop scientific writing skills that are concise and well-supported.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate the research skills required to identify and explore contemporary and ongoing academic debates in physical geography.
  • 2. Understand the key academic skills required to learn effectively on a Geography degree programme, including those associated with academic honesty and practice.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Identify global issues in the contemporary public narrative and recognise the relevance of physical geography to their examination and mitigation.
  • 4. Explain the difference between synthesised textbook knowledge and primary knowledge derived from peer-reviewed research journals.
  • 5. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument by analysing and synthesising relevant information, and evaluating and articulating weaknesses in the arguments of others.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Communicate ideas effectively and fluently by written, oral and visual means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience (e.g. via essays, presentations and short reports)
  • 7. Undertake independent and self-directed group study and learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment.
  • 8. Reflect on the process of learning and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses.
  • 9. Work as a participant and leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives.
  • 10. Enhance IT skills and computer-based data management and analysis (including basic coding).
  • 11. Develop academic skills required to succeed in studying for a degree, including effective note taking, time management, research skills, presentation and personal development planning.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Library use and how to build effective library research skills
  • The relevance of physical geography in contemporary global issues
  • Effective reading and note taking
  • Academic writing and marking criteria
  • Honesty and plagiarism
  • Exeter Personal Development Planning – setting academic and personal targets
  • Report writing
  • Reading group discussions
  • Presentation skills

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Introduction lecture to the module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Online library induction and effective library research tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Tutorials focusing on academic skills for Geography Undergraduates
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Education Enhancement workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Group presentation seminar
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Study group meetings following discussion/reading group or group work session formats
Guided Independent Study50Independent reading and research
Guided Independent Study20Additional, self-directed discussion/reading groups and other study group activities
Guided Independent Study40Writing reports and assessments
Guided Independent Study19Web-based activities

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written tasks and tutorial preparation20 minutes1-11In tutorial sessions orally from both peers and tutor. Cohort written feedback
Essay plan1 page1-11Study group written, oral and peer
Essay1000 words1-11Written, oral and peer

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay401000 words1-8, 10-11Written and oral
Report401000 words1-8, 10-11Written and oral
Group presentation20c. 15-20 minutes (group size dependent)1-11Written, oral and peer
Online plagiarism test (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module; there is no limit to the number of times you can take the test)030 minutes2Online embedded

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8, 10-11August Ref/Def
ReportReport1-8, 10-11August Ref/Def
Group presentationWritten summary of group presentation1-11August Ref/Def
Online plagiarism testOnline plagiarism test2Ongoing until passed

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to re-submit the relevant assessment. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Kneale, P. E. (2011) Study skills for geography, earth and environmental science students, 3rd Edition, London: Hodder Education.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Physical geography, study skills, writing, reading, referencing, presentation, academic tutorial, analysis

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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