Module Information

Module Identifier
EAM4220
Module Title
Investigating Environmental Change: Fieldwork
Academic Year
2017/2018
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 1
External Examiners
  • Dr Catherine Delaney (Senior Lecturer - Manchester Metropolitan University)
 
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 5 x 9 Hour Field Trips
Lecture 3 x 2 Hour Lectures
Lecture 1 x 3 Hour Lecture
 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Hypothesis development and fieldwork research design: To be completed on the fieldtrip (oral presentation)  20%
Semester Assessment Field based project (3000 words)  80%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed/non-submitted coursework components only if the overall module mark is a fail. Fieldwork attendance will be compulsory.   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Identify and articulate research questions or hypotheses derived from a combination of academic literature and site visits

Design and present an appropriate field-based research strategy to collect data to test hypotheses and/or research questions

Collect field data using a variety of techniques and construct data bases for subsequent analysis

Utilise appropriate analytical and statistical techniques to interrogate data sets

Interpret primary data and present preliminary findings.

Produce professional field project reports and give an oral presentation on ideas

Brief description

The module has two sections. The first section involves field investigation of environmental change and hazards, in NE Spain around Zaragoza and Jaca (although the location could be changed in subsequent years if necessary, with minimal effect on the learning outcomes). The second section comprises class-based workshops and seminars to guide students in data analysis, interpretation, presentation and report writing.

To prepare for the fieldwork students will be given a fieldtrip booklet. This will outline the logistical information related to the trip and provide details of the assessment and student-led projects. It is expected that students will have done some preparation before they depart. On-site lectures will be used to introduce problem-solving exercise that will provide experience in designing field-based research projects involving the collection of primary data. Training will be provided in appropriate research design, sampling strategies, replication considerations, and a variety of instruments and techniques (depending on their projects). There will also be an opportunity for students to undertake their own field-based group research project that will involve the collection of primary data. They will be responsible for data collection, management and analysis. Likely project topics include those relating to water supply, agricultural sustainability, soil salinization, soil CO2 efflux, soil erodibility, geomorophological hazards and agricultural abandonment.

Upon our return, a series of workshops will guide students in the analysis, interpretation and presentation of their group field data and the completion of their individual reports.

Content

Section A. Fieldtrip preparation and visit

1. Introduction to the module and fieldtrip.
Students are briefed on the module structure and assignments. Key resources are provided prior to departure. Assignment 1 completed on the trip - development of hypotheses and research design.

2. Residential fieldwork. Duration: One week.
Provides training on research design, sampling strategies and various data collection techniques for a range of geomorphological, soil, vegetation and water variables. After orientation, students are given the opportunity to conduct their own research projects and collect primary data on a range of projects relating to the impacts of environmental and climatic change. This forms the basis for assignment 2.

Section B. Workshops to facilitate data analysis, interpretation and report writing

3. Project workshop No. 1 - Data base management and data presentation
4. Project workshop No. 2 - Data analysis and interpretation
These two sessions are to allow students to work with their field data and to present, analyse and interpret it. Staff will be available to assist and provide guidance.

5. Project workshop No. 3 - Student presentations
In order to provide a milestone to work towards, and to obtain constructive feedback from staff and peers, students present their project findings. This is not assessed, but students will need to demonstrate they have reflected on their feedback and how they have modified their work (or not) as a result in their final assignment 2 reports.

6. Project workshop No. 4 - Putting findings into the wider academic context
7. Project workshop No. 5
After the presentations there are two further opportunities to meet with staff to discuss their work and to compare their findings with previously published studies. The final deadline for completion of assignment 2 will be in the week following the last workshop.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collecting, organising, analysing and presenting quantitative data is central to the module. Students will require a reasonably high level of numeracy to deal with this effectively. Appropriate statistical techniques will be required to analyse the data.
Communication Oral communication will be encouraged throughout the fieldwork and assessed in assignment 1. Students will also present their findings in order to gain feedback prior to completing assignment 1. This is not assessed directly, but students will be required to state what feedback they received and demonstrate they have reflected and acted upon it when completing the report for assignment 2. Written communication of data and concepts is also integral to assignment 2.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be expected to undertake a significant amount of self-directed study, including extensive reading to help them interpret their field data. The latter part of the module is largely self-directed, and students will be required to develop self and time-management skills - with guidance from the module coordinator. The oral presentation undertaken in workshop 3 provides an opportunity to obtain and reflect on feedback from the group on progress.
Information Technology Students will be expected to use information technology in the presentation of their coursework, in preparing the presentations, analysing their data and completing their reports. They will also become familiar with a variety of academic source materials. Some students may choose to use GIS or statistical software in the analysis and presentation of their field data. All are expected to use Excel to interrogate databases, undertake analyses and generate graphical outputs.
Personal Development and Career planning The unit will develop high level skills in project identification, field data collection, interpretation, presentation and analysis. The presentation of information both orally and in written reports, will also be a key part of the module. A degree of numerical competency is also required to evaluate the data. All are transferable skills that will be useful in preparing students for research careers, and positions in environmental consultancies, conservation groups, the Environment Agency and the newly formed Natural Resources Wales.
Problem solving Students will devise their own research questions and testable hypothesis for their field based projects. They will also design a strategy to collect reliable field data.
Research skills This is a field-based skills unit. Students will learn to write objectives, construct hypotheses, devise appropriate sampling strategies, collect a range of field-based data, and how to analyse and interpret the data.
Subject Specific Skills Field-based techniques (depends on project undertaken).
Team work It is expected that field-based data collection will be undertaken in small groups of 2-3.

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 7