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Study information

West Penwith Fieldclass

Module titleWest Penwith Fieldclass
Module codeGEO1506B
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Michael Leyshon (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

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

The location of the fieldtrip has been recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with a high density of conservation areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The area contains some of Britain's finest coastal scenery, including Land's End and the Lizard peninsula, and provides a perfect setting for geographical exploration. We also visit part of the Cornwall and West Devon UNESCO World Heritage Site. This important heritage site preserves the contribution that Cornwall made to the industrial revolution in Great Britain as well as mining practices across the globe.

When participating in field courses, you will need to provide your own specialist personal equipment e.g. a Desktop or Laptop computer that you must supply at your own expense.

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 geography and environmental science students and is a pre-requisite for GEO2460 Environment and Sustainability on the Isles of Scilly.

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 geographical fieldwork techniques during a weeklong intensive virtual module based on the West Penwith area of Cornwall. This module will equip you with a variety of practical and transferable academic skills in areas such as scientific and social 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 undertaking 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 geography
  • 2. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of current research in geography with reference to textbooks, reviews and research articles
  • 3. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within geography
  • 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 geography
  • 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 geography
  • 8. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within geography
  • 9. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of geography 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 human aspects of the local region. The module includes a number of preparatory, and post-field trip, lectures as well as lectures and seminars conducted online. 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 virtually. The module is initially structured around preparatory lectures before a two-day intensive virtual field trip to West Penwith. This is followed by 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

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
Group poster presentation20Poster1-12,15Written and oral
Fieldwork report802000 words1-14Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group poster presentationNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Fieldwork reportEssay (2000 words)1-12August 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 group poster presentation assessment is not deferrable due to its practical nature and the need to work in a group. 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 2000 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

  • Clifford, N. and Valentine, G. (2003) Key Methods in Geography, (Ed) (London, Sage)
  • Deacon, B. (2007) Cornwall: A Concise History (Cardiff, University of Wales Press)
  • Kain R. (2006) The South West, (Ed) (London, Collins)
  • Knight, J. and Harrison, S. (2013) ‘A land history of men’: The intersection of geomorphology, culture and heritage in Cornwall, southwest England Applied Geography 42, 186-194
  • Holloway, S., et al (2003) Key Concepts in Geography, (Ed) (London, Sage)
  • Rogers, A. and Viles, H. (2003) Student’s Companion to Geography, (Ed) (Oxford, Blackwell)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

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

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date