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Undergraduate Study

Fieldwork in Geography and Environmental Science

Our field courses are among the most inspirational, rewarding and enjoyable experiences as an undergraduate student at the University of Exeter. They form an integral part of your degree, positioned at the very heart of our teaching in Geography and Environmental Science.

As one of the keystones of geographical understanding, field courses provide you with the ambition and ability to develop and apply the knowledge gained from our world-leading academic staff in the classroom to the central issues, concerns and experiences facing the world around us. They help you gain a greater understanding of how people and landscapes interact, as well as enhance your skills in teamwork and independent thought. 

Each field course is carefully designed to bring theory to life, whether through developing fundamental field techniques in some of the most stunning landscapes the UK has to offer, or honing the more challenging, independent practical research skills that will ensure you develop and flourish as a geographer or environmental scientist.

Exact field course module options are specified on each degree course page.

Field course destinations

Please note that destinations are subject to change. To see where degree courses are based, check the programme pages.

For degrees based at Streatham Campus, Exeter:

The field course focuses on Antwerp as a city of flows. The course gets to grips with this major port city as a key node in flows of globalization, goods, cargo, chemicals, international cultures, urban exploration, and diamonds.

From visits to the cargo port, Antwerp’s diamond trading district, and its historical docks (from where millions of migrants sailed to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), to walks under Antwerp city centre following its covered canal network, the trip engages with the multiple networks and flows that have made it into one of Europe’s key cargo, trading and cultural hubs. Led by staff specialising in urban geography, migration, and industrial chemical flows, the trip will also enable you to test research methodologies including ethnography.

Field course themes:

  • Globalisation
  • Economic geography: flows of commodities
  • Cargo and port geographies
  • Migration and multiculturalism
  • Urban exploration and urban decay

Costs associated:

Transport to and from UK departure airport/Eurostar station Covered by student
Travel to field course destination Paid for and booked by student. Students are able to claim the cost back as travel expenses up to a specified limit*
Accommodation Covered by the university
Equipment (including suitable clothing and footwear) No specialist equipment needed
Subsistence (e.g. meals, snacks and drinks) The accommodation provides breakfast and an evening meal, students are required to pay for their lunches
Other travel (e.g. Metro pass) Covered by the university
Entrance fees Covered by the university
Visas Paid for by the student, if applicable
Vaccinations Not applicable

*The reimbursement cap is tailored for each trip to cover the full flight and transfer cost if you book the recommended flights in a timely fashion, therefore if you follow our guidance, you will not be out of pocket after reimbursement.

Field course costs are approximate and funding provided is subject to change. Please note that this cost is based on 2018/19 prices.

Berlin has been central to many of the key political and urban issues of the last 100 years; at the heart of the turmoil during the rise of fascism; as the symbolic centre of the Cold War; and as a city now that exemplifies many of the key urban issues of the 21st century. Through a series of activities in various sites, both well-known (e.g. the Reichstag, the Berlin Wall, the Jewish museum) and lesser-known (e.g. the Stolpersteine memorials, the neighbourhood of Neukolln), and working in small groups with guidance and advice from academic staff, this trip equips you with the intellectual resources to undertake your own explorations and analysis of this fascinating city.

Field course themes:

  • Political, Urban and Cultural Geography
  • Cold War Histories and Legacies
  • Places and Spaces of Memorialisation
  • Geographies of Re-unification
  • Culture, Economy, and the City

Example itinerary:

Day 1 Kreuzberg
Berlin Wall Memorial
Templehof
Day 2 The Reichstag
Marx-Engels Forum
UrbanSpree
Mauerpark
Day 3 Holocaust Memorial
The Jewish Museum
Day 4 Neukolln
Potsdamer Platz
Project proposals workshop
Day 5 Independent group work
Field trip social in evening
Day 6 Independent group work
Transfer to airport/UK

Please note this is an example itinerary and has been taken from a past field course. Field course itineraries are subject to change.

Costs associated:

Transport to and from UK departure airport/Eurostar station Coach provided from campus to/from Bristol airport
Travel to field course destination Paid for and booked by student. Students are able to claim the cost back as travel expenses up to a specified limit*
Accommodation Covered by the university
Equipment (including suitable clothing and footwear) No specialist equipment needed
Subsistence (e.g. meals, snacks and drinks) The accommodation provides breakfast and an evening meal, students are required to pay for their lunches
Other travel (e.g. Metro pass) Berlin travel card cost is covered by the university
Entrance fees Entrance fees to museums covered by the university
Visas Paid for by the student, if applicable
Vaccinations Not applicable

*The reimbursement cap is tailored for each trip to cover the full flight and transfer cost if you book the recommended flights in a timely fashion, therefore if you follow our guidance, you will not be out of pocket after reimbursement.

Field course costs are approximate and funding provided is subject to change. Please note that this cost is based on 2018/19 prices.

This field trip is for students interested in interdisciplinarity: in how concepts and methods from BA and BSc Geography can be integrated to better address contemporary societal challenges. You will visit the iconic world heritage sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius as well as Naples and the famous Amalfi coast, annotating field notebooks and developing skills in field observation, visual methods and risk analysis among other techniques.

You then conduct and present your own research based on ideas you develop prior to the trip. Past students used this opportunity to further hone interdisciplinary research skills to examine perceptions, behaviours, governance, policy practices and environmental change, connecting with a range of research participants including tourists, residents, hoteliers, tour operators, fishers and local businesses.

Field course themes:

  • Heritage and Tourism
  • Sustainability and human wellbeing
  • Climate change and adaptation
  • Disaster planning, risk and resilience
  • Urban re-development and the neoliberal city

Example itinerary:

Day 1 Students meet at hotel accommodation in Sorrento
Day 2 Morning – Pompeii
Afternoon – Vesuvius
Day 3 Morning – Herculaneum
Afternoon – Naples
Day 4 Morning – Positano
Afternoon – Amalfi
Day 5 Data collection
Day 6 Data analysis day
Poster preparation
Day 7 Poster submission
Group presentations
Day 8 Travel to airport

Please note this is an example itinerary and has been taken from a past field course. Field course itineraries are subject to change.

Costs associated:

Transport to and from UK departure airport/Eurostar station Covered by student
Travel to field course destination Paid for and booked by student. Students are able to claim the cost back as travel expenses up to a specified limit*
Accommodation Covered by the university
Equipment (including suitable clothing and footwear) No specialist equipment needed
Subsistence (e.g. meals, snacks and drinks) The accommodation provides breakfast and an evening meal, students are required to pay for their lunches
Other travel (e.g. Metro pass) Not applicable
Entrance fees Not applicable
Visas Paid for by the student, if applicable
Vaccinations Not applicable

*The reimbursement cap is tailored for each trip to cover the full flight and transfer cost if you book the recommended flights in a timely fashion, therefore if you follow our guidance, you will not be out of pocket after reimbursement.

Field course costs are approximate and funding provided is subject to change. Please note that this cost is based on 2018/19 prices.

The Seville field course explores the city that lays claim to being the birthplace of Flamenco and Tapas, the city’s place in legacies of colonialism and the work underway to transition to a more sustainable and ‘smart’ city. Through working in a group to prepare an independent research project you will develop your project design, analysis and presentation skills in an exciting and dynamic urban setting. The trip encourages you to be curious, critical and questioning about the social, economic and cultural processes operating in an urban landscape.

Students work in groups to undertake projects on themes including:

  • Smart and sustainable cities in an age of climate change
  • Imperial legacy and colonialism in the urban landscape
  • Everyday mobility in the city
  • Geographies of creativity and performance
  • Tourism and ‘consuming places’

Example itinerary:

Day 1 Students meet at accommodation in Seville (PM)
Day 2 Walking tour of Seville
Day 3-5 Field work in Seville and the region
Day 6 Final preparations for assessment
Day 7 Assessment
Day 8 Transfers back to UK

Please note this is an example itinerary and has been taken from a past field course. Field course itineraries are subject to change.

Costs associated:

Transport to and from UK departure airport/Eurostar station Covered by student
Travel to field course destination Paid for and booked by student. Students are able to claim the cost back as travel expenses up to a specified limit*
Accommodation Covered by the university
Equipment (including suitable clothing and footwear) No specialist equipment needed
Subsistence (e.g. meals, snacks and drinks) The accommodation provides breakfast and an evening meal, students are required to pay for their lunches
Other travel (e.g. travel to nearby cities) Covered by student: £10-20 (optional)
Entrance fees Covered by student: £10-20 (optional)
Visas Paid for by the student, if applicable
Vaccinations Not applicable

*The reimbursement cap is tailored for each trip to cover the full flight and transfer cost if you book the recommended flights in a timely fashion, therefore if you follow our guidance, you will not be out of pocket after reimbursement.

Field course costs are approximate and funding provided is subject to change. Please note that this cost is based on 2018/19 prices.

Our second-year residential field course to Slovenia tours the Julian Alps mountain range and focuses on the evolution of alpine landscapes. We will explore a range of environments, processes and landforms through the snow-capped peaks, mountain passes, gorges and river valleys of Triglav National Park. Students will gain first-hand experience of data collection using cutting-edge environmental survey technology, including GIS and drone-based remote sensing. Learning activities during the trip are delivered by academic staff with expertise in rivers, landslides and geomorphology. There will also be opportunities to explore the spectacularly scenic surroundings, with accommodation based near the world-famous Lake Bled and in the Soča Valley.

Field course themes:

  • Alpine landscape evolution
  • Fluvial geomorphology
  • Landslides and alpine hazards
  • Cutting-edge survey techniques
  • Mountain geomorphology

Example itinerary:

Day 1 Students meet at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport
Transfer to hotel in Bled, chance to explore the town and Lake Bled
Overnight stay in Bled
Day 2 Field visit to Lake Bohinj
Walk the Vintgar Gorge
Overnight stay in Bled
Day 3 Travel through Triglav National Park towards Bovec
Visit Vršič Pass
Field visits to Lago del Predil (Italy) and Long pod Mangartom
Overnight stay in Bovec
Day 4 Field visit to Upper Soča Valley
Walk the Soča Trail
Overnight stay in Bovec
Day 5 Field visit to the Soča Valley
Kanin Cable Car (conditions permitting)
Initial field practicals
Evening presentation
Overnight stay in Bovec
Day 6 Field practicals
Evening data analysis
Overnight stay in Bovec
Day 7 Travel towards Ljubljana
Visit Tolmin Gorge and Postojna Cave
Overnight stay in Ljubljana
Day 8 Transfer to Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport

Please note this is an example itinerary and has been taken from a past field course. Field course itineraries are subject to change.

Costs associated:

Transport to and from UK departure airport/Eurostar station Covered by student
Travel to field course destination Paid for and booked by student. Students are able to claim the cost back as travel expenses up to a specified limit*
Accommodation Covered by the university
Equipment (including suitable clothing and footwear) No specialist equipment needed. Weather can be changeable that time of year in Slovenia, particularly when working at a moderate altitude, and so adequate insulation, weather-proof clothing and sturdy walking boots are required.
Subsistence (e.g. meals, snacks and drinks) The University will cover the cost of breakfast and an evening meal at the accommodation/a group meal at a restaurant; students are required to pay for their own lunches.
Other travel (e.g. Metro pass) Covered by the university
Entrance fees Covered by the university
Visas Paid for by the student, if applicable
Vaccinations Not applicable

*The reimbursement cap is tailored for each trip to cover the full flight and transfer cost if you book the recommended flights in a timely fashion, therefore if you follow our guidance, you will not be out of pocket after reimbursement.

Field course costs are approximate and funding provided is subject to change. Please note that this cost is based on 2018/19 prices.

Lying at the edge of the Arctic Circle, Iceland presents a unique environment in which to study glacier geomorphology and climate change over the past 150 years. Its position at 60 degrees North on the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean has led to the development of a spectacular landscape which records contemporary and ongoing glacial, volcanic and fluvial processes. This field course focuses on these processes at field sites in the southeast of Iceland at the edge of the Vatnajökull Ice Cap. During the trip we will be based at a hotel located at the foot of Svinafellsjokull – a glacier in the world-famous Skaftafell National Park.

You will have the opportunity to conduct a research project working in small groups which will include:

  • Glacial geomorphology
  • Glacial hydrology including outburst floods (jökulhlaups)
  • Remote sensing techniques
  • Relative dating techniques
  • Sedimentology

As well as some great physical geography such as Thingvellir, Gulfoss and Geysir, there may be a chance to see the northern lights, and relax in a geothermal pool.

While we seek to make all of our field courses accessible, if you would prefer not to travel internationally we offer two virtual field courses.

Human Geography Virtual Field Course 

This field course is aligned with the New York field course. The module contains alternative material and assessment as a replacement for the residential component. On this module, you will design and undertake a short individual research project based upon one or more aspects of New York City, using documentary and virtual resources, which can include film, audio, and other media. The theme and precise nature of your research project is up to you—in discussion with the Virtual - and New York - field course staff.

Field course themes may include:

  • Vertical geographies
  • The Harlem Renaissance, and the spatialisation of race and culture
  • The parks and parkways of New York
  • Mapping New York City
  • New York on the silver screen

 

Physical Geography Virtual Field Course 

The physical geography virtual field course offers an opportunity for you to develop and apply your research skills in a virtual real-world environment. Cutting-edge data collection methods are presenting a new opportunity for realistic field experiences, which will allow you to develop field and research design techniques without needing to travel for the field trip experience.

Field course themes:

  • Virtual environments
  • Landscape evolution
  • Research Design methods
  • Various data collection methods
  • Data visualisation

For degrees based at Penryn Campus, Cornwall:

Singapore is a bustling metropolis located in a region of high biodiversity right on the equator. It therefore makes an ideal location to explore biodiversity and how humans interact with, influence, and threaten wildlife, from the exploitation of natural resources to aspects such as wildlife trade.

Singapore also comprises a number of comparatively preserved natural ecosystems, from tropical forests through to marine habitats, and has a wide range of biodiversity initiatives and green spaces. Despite intense urbanisation, several ecosystems have also recovered and biodiversity remains high in forests, wetlands, and marine zones (especially for birds, mammals, fish, butterflies, and other invertebrates). Singapore therefore makes an ideal location to study biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and behaviour, and to explore the challenges facing wildlife on global and regional scales.

You will be based in central Singapore and undertake activities both in the more developed regions, learning about threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, and more rurally studying ecology and behaviour, again especially focussing on biodiversity threats and initiatives.

Degrees that offer this field course:

The week-long field trip to the Isles of Scilly is a free field course taken by all first year students studying for Geography and Environmental Science degrees at the end of the first year of study. It is also an option for students studying BSc Human Sciences and BA Politics and Geography. Students take the ferry from Penzance and camp at Garrison Farm on the edge of Hugh Town, St Mary’s.

The module is designed to provide you with background information about the islands, including physical geography, environmental change, economic, political, social and cultural history, as well as the contemporary challenges to be faced by those living on the islands today.

You will also practise a range of research skills so that students develop the skills needed to complete independent research activity later on. The Isles of Scilly are an ideal place to try out a range of methodologies used in geomorphological research, climate science and sustainable development.

Students always have a great time spending time in a beautiful location, and building a stronger community through working together in the field.

Example itinerary:

Day 1 Travel to Penzance
Take the Scillonian to Isles of Scilly
Make camp at Garrison Farm on St Mary’s
Day 2 Orientation to life on Scilly

Introduction to the field course, and overview of the sustainability challenge on Scilly (environment, energy, sustainable management) all day on St Mary’s

Day 3 and 4 Visit the off-islands of Tresco and St Agnes in two groups, swapping over each day

Students learn more about understanding long-term environmental change, quaternary stratigraphy, micro-climates and sustainable development
Day 5 In-depth research day where students choose a project including work on quaternary stratigraphy on St Martin’s, micro-climates on Bryher, ecological management on St Mary’s, managing the marine ecosystem in Scilly and supporting businesses on St Mary’s
Day 6 Students work in groups to lead staff on a short walking tour on St Mary’s, exploring a particular aspect of the island in more detail (for assessment)

Final night celebration with a pub quiz in the evening
Day 7 Return home on the Scillonian to Penzance

Please note this is an example itinerary and has been taken from a past field course. Field course itineraries are subject to change.

Degrees that offer this field course:

Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that contains some of Britain's finest coastal scenery, the West Penwith Field Course module provides students studying either Geography or Environmental Science with the opportunity to explore key ideas in their disciplines.

Cornwall is a natural laboratory with an incredible diversity of cultural, ecological and physical landscapes that each have a fascinating and intertwined story to tell. This short-fat module provides training in fieldwork techniques that are fundamental to degrees in geography and environmental science.

Field course aims:

This module has two main aims: 

  • to provide students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained through lecture-based modules to 'real-world' situations
  • to give students preparatory training in fieldwork techniques.

You will be guided by academic staff throughout the field trip. Specifically, you receive instruction in science and social science techniques including, but not limited to: participant observation, sampling strategies and experimental design, which are essential for your future learning in the department.

Example itinerary:

This is a free field course for both Geography and Environmental Science students. Day one is the same for both sets of students, and on day two the class divides in the separate disciplines.

Geography students
Day 1 Social Histories and Industrial Heritage at Geevor Tin Mine. Nature, Culture and Landscape Assessment on Zeenor Moor.

Day 2

Cornwall as a Site of Representation in St Ives, Contested Natures of the Beach Environment at St Ives/Godrevy, Accounting for Landscape Process and Form in the Coastal Zone at Godrevy.

Environmental Science students

Day 1 Social Histories and Industrial Heritage at Geevor Tin Mine. Nature, Culture and Landscape Assessment on Zeenor Moor.
Day 2  The Perceptions of Scale in Environmental Science, Analysing the Structured Environment, Invasive Species Assessment, Beach Survey at the Cot Valley

Degrees that offer this field course:

Student support

We make every effort to ensure students have the opportunity to experience our field trips and are supported during the process of deciding their field trip destination and embarking on the field trip. Prior to each trip we provide extensive briefings on travel arrangements, accommodation options, equipment and support offered throughout the trip.  

I went on a field course to Naples. The field course was an opportunity to do some real-world geographical study and work with people from the other side of the course, giving me a new perspective on geographical research.

Charlotte

BSc Geography, Streatham Campus

The biggest highlight of my course so far was the field trip to West Penwith, as I built close relationships with my course mates. We shared lots of joy and fun together, and applied the knowledge gained through lecture-based modules to real situations in Cornwall.

Marky

BA/BSc Geography, Penryn Campus

The biggest highlight for me was the Isles of Scilly trip in second year. Although the weather was mixed, it was a brilliant chance to put the skills we had gained over the last two years into practice in a stunning environment. Not only that, but the assessment was fun and different, and the social aspect of the trip was second to none; who can beat dinner on the beach every night?!

Harry

BSc Environmental Sciences, Penryn Campus