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Study information

Study Skills for Physical Geographers

Module titleStudy Skills for Physical Geographers
Module codeGEO1311
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Sally Rangecroft (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Through a combination of small group teaching, workshops, group work 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 and academic essays. 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 work and individual independent study. The majority of this module is delivered through small group tutorials and workshops allowing you to really engage in the subject and to discuss your learning in a more informal and relaxed learning environment. Through additional workshops, 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 tutorials and workshops as a means of developing academic skills 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 teamwork and group management skills
  • Develop awareness of the application of coding and GIS 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. 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...

  • 2. Identify global issues in the contemporary public narrative and recognise the relevance of physical geography to their examination and mitigation
  • 3. Understand and use scientific knowledge derived from peer-reviewed research journals
  • 4. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument by synthesising, analysing and evaluating relevant information

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Communicate ideas effectively and fluently by written, oral and visual means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 6. Undertake independent study and learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 7. Work as part of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives
  • 8. Enhance IT skills, computer-based data management and analysis
  • 9. Develop academic skills required to succeed in studying for a degree, including time management, academic honesty, and research skills

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:

  • The relevance of physical geography in contemporary global issues
  • Effective reading and note taking
  • Academic writing and marking criteria
  • Honesty and plagiarism and referencing
  • Personal Development Planning – setting academic, personal and employability targets
  • Report writing
  • Presentation skills
  • Quantitative 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 Teaching Activities1Introduction lecture to the module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities8Tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities9Workshops (including computer practicals)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2Group presentation seminar
Guided independent study130Independent reading and research, tutorial preparation, assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan1 page1-4Study group written, oral and peer
Essay1000 words1-6, 9Written and oral

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
Essay601,000 words1-6, 9Written
Group presentation40c. 15 minutes (group size dependent)1-9Written, 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
Essay (60%)Essay (60%)1-6, 9Referral/deferral period
Group presentation (40%)Individual presentation (40%)1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period
Online plagiarism test (0%)Online plagiarism test (0%)2Ongoing 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

  • ELE page: articles and reading lists for seminars will be distributed via ELE, sourced from leading journals such as Science and Nature.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Key words search

Physical Geography, Study Skills, Writing, Reading, Referencing, Presentation, Academic Tutorial

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Available as distance learning?


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