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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG1175 Exploring the Physical Environment

20 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Andy Baird

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The aim of this module is to support the transition to university and develop essential understanding and skills for conducting physical geographical work. These will include critical reading of the research literature, fieldwork planning and data collection, developing awareness of the different research approaches in physical geography, posing and answering research questions, writing research reports.


1. To introduce students to how physical geography is ‘done’. That is, to introduce students to the scientific approaches used by physical geographers when trying to understand the natural environment. Objective 1 will be fulfilled via a residential fieldtrip and a series of tutorials running through both semesters.

2. To introduce students to the reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for university-level study of physical geography. Objective 2 will be fulfilled via tutorials.

3 To introduce students to the skills needed to develop and plan a research project in which simple research questions are posed. Objective 3 will be fulfilled via a residential fieldtrip and tutorials.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this course students should be able to:

1. Identify and explain the differences between observational, experimental, and theoretical/modelling research approaches in physical geography.

2. Identify the research approach used in research papers and discuss the appropriateness of the approach.

3. Write cogently and critically on the research approaches used in a range of contrasting published geographical studies.

4. Demonstrate an ability to plan and undertake field data collection and to keep well-structured, informative, and reflective field notes.

5. Write a scientific report.

Skills outcomes
The subject-specific skills that students will develop include an understanding of how physical geographical research is conducted, critical analysis of published geographical research, planning and undertaking geographical fieldwork, writing well-structured and informative field notebooks, writing essays and reports, and presenting work effectively in small-group settings.


Semesters 1 and 2

Tutorials to facilitate the transition to university, introduce critical reading of research papers, and support the development of writing skills. The tutorials will also support the teaching and learning of the different research approaches used in physical geography.

Residential field work to develop skills in planning geographical fieldwork, collecting geographical data, keeping effective field notes, and reflecting on how geographical research is carried out.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours156.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

On the residential fieldtrip students will be given formative feedback on the first part of their field notebooks, which they then add to and improve over the remainder of the trip before submitting them for assessment. The tutorials contain a range of activities that students receive feedback on from their tutor, including a practice essay designed to help them develop their critical thinking and writing skills.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
FieldworkField notebook like a lab notebook but for a field trip.30.00
Report1500 words30.00
Critique1000 words40.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:56:05


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