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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2006 The dynamic environment of the European Alps

10 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Steve Carver

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

Year running 2019/20

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG2007The Dynamic Environment of Mallorca
GEOG2008The dynamic environment of the Western Algarve

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces students to field methods in physical geography, focusing on research issues specific to the alpine environments of the European Alps and is centred around a week-long field trip to the European Alps during the Summer vacation. Preparatory reading (and associated pre-fieldwork assignment) and a lecture introduce the field area and scientific topics. During the first few days of the field trip, students will be introduced to the locale and to a range of different fieldwork skills. These skills will then be put into practice by working in a small group on a project chosen by the group. The group will plan their research, collect field measurements, analyse and interpret them, and write a report on the results and present these


On completion of this module students should have acquired:
1. an understanding of how to plan, collect, analyse and interpret field measurements of environmental phenomena for research in physical geography;
2. knowledge of the geology, landscapes and climates represented in this region of the Eastern Alps past and present, their impacts on (and interactions with) ecology, geochemistry, glaciological and geomorphological processes, and relevance to local issues of resources and conservation;
3. an understanding of how to carry out a project which fulfils a set of aims and objectives, and uses statistical and/or modelling methods learned in other modules.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:
1. have developed an appreciation of the geology, soils, geomorphology, glaciology, ecology, climate, geochemistry and resources in a region characterised by distinctive climatic, geological and ecological gradients;
2. be able to plan research projects involving field measurements, analysis and interpretation;
3. have applied their theoretical knowledge and skills in physical geography and statistical analysis and be able to use these effectively for independent research.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge and skills in planning, taking, analysing and interpreting field measurements for solving research problems in physical geography;
2. Be able to apply statistical and other methods to solving problems;
3. Be able to work together in small groups, negotiate and manage themselves to become an effective team focused on achieving specific goals with the resources and time available;
4. Be able to keep a record of where they have been, what they have done, what they have seen, and how this relates to the theories and methods which they have learned about in lectures, and appreciate the need to relate theory to field observations in order to develop a sound understanding of the landscape, its history, and the events and processes which shape it.


A. Field techniques
1. Geomorphology (e.g. analysis of fluvial and glacial processes, topographic survey)
2. Ecology (e.g. vegetation survey, plant identification, measuring forest dynamics and biomass)
3. Geochemistry (e.g. sampling, measurement, implications for ecology and environmental processes)

B. Example topics
1. Vegetation succession (altitudinal and colonisation of glacial forefield)
2. Glacial geomorphology (e.g. landforms of erosion and deposition)
3. Glacial hydrology (e.g. processes governing accumulation and ablation and water pathways)
4. Snow melt (e.g. heat transfer and melt processes in the snowpack)
5. Geochemistry (e.g. influence on water geochemistry on ecology)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours50.00
Total Contact hours50.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

- Research for field course before the field course (23 hours)
- Completion of field log book during the field class (5 hours)
- Research for group field report (20 hours)
- Completion of group presentation during the field class (2 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored by:
1. pre-fieldwork assignments
2. performance on the field course each day
2. field notebook (checked after first day and midway through the trip)
3. assessed work for the field course.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationOne group presentation (on final project), 15 minutes25.00
Written WorkField notebook25.00
Group Project2,000 word report50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Presentations assessed during field class. Note book given formative feedback during the trip, and assessed when submitted with group report to be handed in before the end of the field class.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/03/2019


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