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Study information

Marine and Environmental Science Field Course

Module titleMarine and Environmental Science Field Course
Module codeGEO1421
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Edward Gasson (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module provides early career training in fieldwork techniques that are fundamental to your degree in marine and environmental science. Cornwall is a natural laboratory with an incredible diversity of ecological and physical landscapes that you will have an opportunity to explore with academic staff. Specifically, you will receive instruction on marine science and environmental science techniques including, but not limited to, participant observation, recording field data, field sketching, sampling strategies and basic data handling, which is essential for your future career as a marine or environmental scientist.

The location of the fieldtrip will be in Cornwall, which has many areas designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with a high density of conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). Cornwall contains some of Britain's finest coastal scenery, including Land's End, the Lizard peninsula and twenty-two MCZs, and provides a perfect setting for marine and environmental exploration.


When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations. You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, e.g. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen. Details of specialist equipment, vaccinations and visas that you must supply at your own expense are provided at

Module field trips may have to be moved online/replaced in the event of continued COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing rules.

This module can only be taken by marine and environmental science students and is a pre-requisite for GEO2447 Isles of Scilly Field Course.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module has three main aims. First, to provide you with an opportunity to apply the research-led knowledge gained through lecture-based modules from staff in the department to 'real-world' situations. The content of the module reflects the interconnections between research and teaching by consistent reference to research carried out by the module convenor and colleagues, thus enabling a more joined up pedagogic approach to researching, writing, reading and understanding.

Second, to give you preparatory training in scientific fieldwork techniques during a weeklong intensive module in Cornwall. This module will equip you with a variety of practical and transferable academic skills in areas such as scientific report writing (including referencing), presentations, study skills (including ‘field’ note taking, field sketching and use of the library), experimental design, data handling (using primary and secondary data), display and interpretation, and basic statistical analysis. All of these are necessary skills that enhance performance in all years (assessments, field techniques and research projects) and future work-based environments.

Third, through attending the field trip you will develop a range of professional skills that are essential for your future career development such as

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice with academic guidance),
  • co-production of learning (learning about the views and values of others), and
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Explain the use of general fieldwork in marine and environmental science
  • 2. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of current research in marine and environmental science with reference to textbooks, reviews and research articles
  • 3. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of investigation, analysis and enquiry within marine and environmental science
  • 4. With guidance collect, manipulate and analyse geographical data

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of marine and/or environmental science
  • 6. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 7. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in marine and environmental science
  • 8. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within marine and environmental science
  • 9. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of marine and environmental science with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 11. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 12. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 13. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 14. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements
  • 15. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

The field trip module provides an introduction to the physical and environmental aspects of the local region and coastline. The module includes a number of preparatory, and post-field trip, lectures as well as lectures and seminars conducted in the field. Further, general guidance on general study skills, sampling procedures; safety; presentation skills; data handling and statistics; experimental design; time management, fieldwork note-taking, library and database use, data display and interpretation, essay writing, revision styles are delivered on campus and in the field. The module is initially structured around preparatory lectures, two days of intensive field work in Cornwall, and three days of structured group work, including lectures, workshops, presentations and feedback. 

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 Teaching26Preparatory lectures and fieldwork – data handling and collection. Module field trips may have to be moved online/replaced in the event of continued COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing rules.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Lecture, workshops and help sessions – for poster presentation and data handling exercises
Guided Independent Study120Reading and preparation for poster presentation and research diary detailing data handling exercises

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during fieldtrip sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Fieldwork DairyOngoing throughout the moduleAllWritten

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
Individual Poster Presentation 50 Poster presentation based on day two field day and computer practical (A0) 3-4,7-8,12,15Written
Field Report501000 word report for day one fieldwork) 1-14Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Field reportEssay (2500 words)1-14August assessment period

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 submit a 2500 word essay. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Jones. A. J., Duck, R., Reed, R. and Weyers, J. Practical Skills in Environmental Science (Pearson)
  • Clifford, N. and Valentine, G. (2003) Key Methods in Geography, (Ed) (London, Sage)
  • Kain R. (2006) The South West, (Ed) (London, Collins)
  • Rogers, A. and Viles, H. (2003) Student’s Companion to Geography, (Ed) (Oxford, Blackwell)

Key words search

Fieldwork, diary writing, time management, research design, data analysis

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date