Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
This module is normally only available to second year students registered on either the F840 or recognized Physical Geography major schemes.
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 5 hours of lectures
Practical 20 hours of practical work
Lecture 20 hours
Practical 15 hours of practical work


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Semester 1 1) 2,000 word data report on the physical analysis of sediments 2) Analysis of quantitative data workbook  40%
Semester Assessment Semester 2 1) 2,000 word essay addressing research techniques in physical geography 2) GIS and mapping workbook  40%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Semester 2: Pre-seen exam  20%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of all failed components. Marks for passed components will be carried forward in the recalculation of the re-sat module mark.  80%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Resit pre-seen exam  20%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Describe the scientific method and identify the different types of data/analytical approaches that can be employed for research in physical geography.

Undertake coarse and fine fraction sediment size analysis and use the resultant data to interpret the likely environment of deposition of different samples.

Undertake laboratory procedures to determine soil/water chemistry and interpret the findings.

Apply descriptive and inferential statistics to analyze quantitative datasets.

Produce maps and graphical representations of geographical data, including the use of computer mapping, remote sensing data and GIS.

Brief description

This module is designed to develop the practical skills of physical geography students and equip them to undertake their own independent research project and the end of their second year. The module comprises five sections. The first section introduces research skills in physical geography; this is assessed by a 'research techniques' essay (20%). The second and third sections provide students with first hand laboratory skills through the physical analysis of sediments and the chemical analysis of soils and waters; these are assessed by a 2000 word data report (20%) and a 1.5 hour pre-seen essay exam (20%), respectively. The fourth and fifth sections focus on (i) the analysis of quantitative data and (ii) GIS and mapping; both are assessed by project workbooks each worth 20%.


The module is organized around five sections:

Section 1: Research skills in physical geography (5 classes on odd numbered weeks in Semester 2): scientific method, palaeo data sources, numerical modeling capabilities, measurements in the field, handling and presenting data.

Section 2: Physical analysis of sediments (5 practicals throughout semester 1): basic principles, coarse and fine fraction analysis, environmental discrimination.

Section 3: Chemical analysis of soils and waters (5 practicals throughout semester 2): soils sampling, macro nutrients, organic matter, soil organic carbon, trace elements.

Section 4: Analysis of quantitative data (5 practicals on odd numbered weeks in semester 1): descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, correlation and regression.

Section 5: GIS and mapping (5 practicals on even numbered weeks in semester 2): advanced graphing, time series data, remote sensing image display and enhancement, GIS maps, graphs and contour plots, map production.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The use of statistical analysis, including descriptive statistics, quantifying sampling error and introductory inferential statistics.
Communication By written assessments and graphical information
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent reading
Information Technology Competency in using the internet for sources of information, computer mapping and word processing
Personal Development and Career planning Many of the skills developed through this module are transferable to non-academic contexts and students are made aware of their wider applicability.
Problem solving The ability to convey geographic information by utilizing maps. Statistical treatment of geographic data
Research skills Writing, thinking and the presentation of information
Subject Specific Skills The acquisition, analysis and presentation of geographic data
Team work Team work and group discussion is involved in some lectures and practical sessions.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Chang, K. (2006) Introduction to GIS. Goodwill Primo search Clifford, N. J. and Valentine, G. (2010) Key Methods in Human Geography Sage: London Primo search Clifford, N.J., Holloway, S.L., Rice, S.P., and Valentine, G. (2009) Key concepts in Geography Sage: London Primo search Ebdon, D. (1978) Statistics in Geography: a Practical Approach. Blackwell, Oxford Primo search Rogers, A. and Viles, H. (2003) The Student's Companion to Geography. Blackwell, Oxford Primo search Walford, N. (1995) Geographical Data Analysis. Wiley: Chichester Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5