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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5096M Observing weather and climate: advanced field skills

15 creditsClass Size: 33

Module manager: Ruza Ivanovic

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

Year running 2023/24

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE3790Advanced Environmental Science Field and Research Skills
SOEE3801Fieldwork and tutorials 3

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Through this module, learners will become expert in advanced practical environmental field skills for use in research and industry. Students will be supported to design, build and install field instrumentation; generating, analysing and communicating primary data in the context of published findings. The module includes a residential field course and further hands-on practical work upon returning to Leeds, to test scientific hypotheses and draw original conclusions from the results. Online enrolment does not guarantee a place on this module. No pre-requisite knowledge is required.


This module takes learners through the complete process of designing and executing a field campaign to ‘observe’ or ‘measure’ the environment; from desk to field and back to desk. Students will work in teams to generate and process physical data using a wide variety of expert research techniques in environmental, atmospheric, ecological and climate sciences, at a theoretical level and through practice in the field. They will select and build their own instrumentation, including establishing live data feeds, and they will analyse the results using a variety of computer-based and analogue methods. Students will interpret their data to draw conclusions concerning the natural structure of the atmosphere, local/regional meteorological and climatological features, and ecological diversity; integrating their results with state-of-the-art knowledge from published literature. The field and independent project work will be supported by world leading research staff from the University of Leeds and National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences. Learning will culminate in two capstone research projects (one during the residential field course, and one following the instrument-building workshops in Leeds).

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
1. Construct an appropriate observation campaign and instrumentation to measure environmental variables
2. Evaluate implicit error/uncertainty within those measurements
3. Draw robust conclusions from primary data
4. Independently research, synthesise and critically analyse existing literature
5. Communicate research findings effectively, including appropriate use of bespoke graphics

Skills outcomes:
The module places considerable emphasis on:
• planning, conducting and reporting on investigations, including the use of primary and secondary data;
• acquiring or building and installing appropriate observational instrumentation;
• collecting, recording and analysing data using appropriate research- and industry-standard techniques in the field;
• undertaking field investigations in a responsible and safe manner, paying due attention to risk assessment, rights of access, relevant health and safety regulations, and sensitivity to the impact of investigations on the environment and stakeholders;
• appreciating issues of sample selection, accuracy, precision and uncertainty during collecting, recording and analysis of data in the field;
• analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research;
• preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages;
• collecting and integrating several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses;
• integrating current state of the art knowledge with conclusions drawn from primary data;
• managing a series of tasks as a team and working within a prescribed timeframe.


This module involves a residential field course and further field work, tutorials and workshops in the Leeds area.

Students will study a selection of atmospheric, environmental, and ecological science topics taken from:

1. Practical weather forecasting using synoptic charts and other data.
2. Profiling of the atmosphere using radiosondes and surface measurements to characterise the stability of the atmosphere, state of the boundary layer, and local meteorology.
3. Conducting in-situ and simulated experiments to examine energy balance processes.
4. Profiling local ecology and links to environmental stressors.

Interpretation and inter-connection of the above activities will be augmented through collection of supplementary data from networked archives and published literature.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours61.00
Total Contact hours89.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

There are many opportunities for learners to receive formative feedback, primarily through the time spent with instructors.

During the residential field course, learners will undertake online research, critical thinking and data analysis activities within their teams, where learners will visualise and interpret their data to answer questions on the science topics in the syllabus. Field instructors, including activity leaders and support staff, will be on-hand throughout to actively mentor learners through their research and learning, check their understanding from their answers to the set questions, and feedback on their practical techniques and analytical work. The residential field course will culminate in learners undertaking a capstone research project under the guidance of the instructors, with the results to be presented orally and graphically in a mini-conference on the final day of the field course. Instructors and peers will ask questions of the presenters, and will issue summary feedback (orally) on performance.

In Leeds, a discursive seminar will give learners the opportunity to express ideas and quiz the instructors, while the instructors will also feedback their assessment of what is expressed in a two-way dialogue. During the practical workshops and local field course, instructors will guide learners through the practical steps, providing immediate feedback on technique so that learners develop their skills and have the opportunity to improve. In these sessions, learners will be quizzed informally through discussion on their understanding of the taught material in order to provide useful, immediate feedback for their reports. In these sessions and during the local 1-day field course, instructors will provide the opportunity for learners to discuss their research plans for the independent research project and receive guidance/feedback on their ideas. Instructors will use digital platforms to check in with students throughout the learning journey.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ProjectUp to 2,500 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Re-sit format: same as the initial submission.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 21/09/2023


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