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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3135 Urban Transformations Field Class

20 credits

Module manager: Asa Roast

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications


This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG3050Helsinki: Urban growth and sustainability
GEOG3064Field Research Project
GEOG3135Urban Transformations Field Class
GEOG3145Exploring the Mediterranean Migration Crisis

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides a broad outline of human geography fieldwork methods and analysis. Over the course of the semester we will become more familiar with fieldwork as a methodology for geographic knowledge production and analysis of spatial relationships. This will take place through a series of discrete field classes (all taking place within the UK), which will address key questions of urban transformations: what changes created the urban environment we have today, what processes are now transforming this environment, and what transformations will continue in the future? We will also consider the spatial relations and politics which underly these transformations: who is driving these changes, who will benefit from them, and who will lose out? We will examine a range of distinct urban locations around the UK and record what types of ‘urban futures’ are anticipated and created by the changes taking place within them. There will be a strong emphasis on student-led epistemology in these locations: this module is ultimately about learning the practical methods necessary for students to record data about the places we visit, and the analytical skills needed to produce meaningful geographical knowledge out of this data. Lectures will familiarise you with key concepts, topics and methodologies; while a combination of day-long and extended multi-day field classes will provide you with the opportunity to engage in fieldwork activities.


Through an extended period of comparative fieldwork comprising day trips and residential stays, the key aims of this module are to provide students with:
- a real world appreciation of the changing geographies of urban environments in the UK
- an understanding of how historical and geographical context shapes the opportunities and challenges facing UK cities
- a critical insight into the impact of central-local state relations, financial logics, land ownership, economic processes, housing demand, demographic change, and social movements on the nature and direction of urban transformations
- the opportunity to explore contemporary urban debates about regeneration, gentrification, public space, the housing crisis, retail, planning, financialisation, health, sustainability and decarbonisation
- an understanding of the purpose and use of comparative analysis in urban geography and fieldwork;
- an ability to undertake independent field research, take field notes, plan projects, and produce multimedia-based research reports

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, the student should have acquired:

1. An understanding of key theories within human geography, especially those regarding urban change;

2. An appreciation of the role of academics, local government, social enterprises, activists and artists in shaping and contesting the transformation of the economy, politics, and culture of cities;

3. An understanding of key policy debates around contemporary urban changes in the UK comprising planning, housing provision, public-private partnerships, public space and local democracy;

4. Awareness of issues around the design and practicality of field-based research, particularly in relation to photo and audio data, observation, ethnography, ethics and collaboration;

5. Skills in the identification, collection and representation of a variety of information and data sources derived from fieldwork;

6. An understanding of the practical application of concepts and methods learnt in the classroom.

Skills outcomes
QAA subject-specific skills

- spatial awareness and observation
- abstraction and synthesis of information
- developing a reasoned argument
- assessing the merits of contrasting theories and explanations
- preparing effective maps, diagrams and visualisations
- primary data generation, collection and recording, and the use of secondary data sets (both quantitative and qualitative)
- critically evaluating, interpreting and combining different types of geographical evidence (for example texts, imagery, archival data, maps, digitised and laboratory data)
- analysis and problem-solving through quantitative and qualitative methods
- planning, designing and executing a piece of rigorous research or enquiry, both independently and in groups, including the production of a final report
- conducting fieldwork and field data collection
- employing a variety of interpretative methods (for example, participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and auto-ethnography)
- employing a variety of social survey methods (for example structured interviews and questionnaires, non-participant observation and transect walks)
- taking responsibility for learning and reflection upon that learning
- recognising the moral, ethical and safety issues involved in all aspects of geographical enquiry

QAA knowledge and understanding
- understand the complex relationships between natural and human aspects of environments and landscapes.
- the concept of spatial variation
- an appreciation of temporal change
- a critical awareness of the significance of spatial and temporal scale
- distinctiveness of place
- knowledge of the main dimensions and scales of economic, social, political and environmental inequality and difference
- knowledge and critical understanding of the diverse manners of representation
- principles of research design
- geographical knowledge and understanding
- field skills


The module syllabus is drawn from the following themes and topics:
• Fieldwork methods: participant observation, ethnography, collaboration, urban fieldwork;
• Multimedia methods: photography, audio recording, representation, dissemination through photo essay and podcast;
• Comparative urban studies: thinking about cities comparatively, comparative analysis, ethics;
• Collaboration with social enterprises and activists;
• Baseline and comparative one-day fieldtrips in Leeds and elsewhere in Northern England;
• Extended residential-based fieldtrip in UK;
• Documenting urban transformations: methodological challenges of fieldwork and reflecting on data collection approaches.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours141.00
Private study hours0.00
Total Contact hours59.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will take the following forms:
c45 hours for general reading to prepare for and supplement lectures and seminars;
c45 hours spent reading in preparation for field trips and recording field notes;
c51 hours reading to prepare research and conduct the assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will submit a project proposal early in the semester after they have completed the first set of lectures, seminars and fieldtrips. This will provide them with specific formative feedback on their research project.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioProject report and supporting materials100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 13/03/2023


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